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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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The AIATSIS Collection

  • What is in the AIATSIS Collection?

    The AIATSIS Collection is the world's largest collection dedicated to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories. It includes published books, journals, and pamphlets, as well as unpublished manuscripts, maps, sound recordings, films and video recordings, photographs, artworks, and objects. AIATSIS calls these collection items.

  • How can I search the Collection?

    You can search for items in the AIATSIS Collection, using Mura, the Collection catalogue or search through records and images for some other media types. 

    Some larger unpublished collections have a finding aid, which is a descriptive listing of what is in a collection of papers, sound recordings, or films and videos. A link to the finding aid is in the catalogue record.

    See our Mura User Guide for further information about how to search for items in the collection.

  • What if I can’t find what I’m looking for in the AIATSIS Collection?

    The AIATSIS Collection is not a complete collection of work authored by or about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and studies. If you cannot find a particular title, try searching Trove to locate the item at your local, state or university library.

  • Can I access collection items at AIATSIS?

    The Stanner Reading Room is located at AIATSIS, Canberra. The majority of published items held in the collection are readily available for public access in the Reading Room.

    Rare published items may be accessed on request depending on the condition of the item.

    Unpublished items may be subject to access and use conditions. Their catalogue records provide information about these conditions in the Access field. If you want to access unpublished items, you will need to complete an Indemnity form. You may also need to gain permission from depositors, copyright owners or community representatives, which may take some time. We encourage you to contact us before visiting.

  • I can’t visit AIATSIS. Can I get copies of items sent to me?

    A copy of parts of a published item can be sent to you subject to copyright law.

    Copies of unpublished items in the collection may be sent to you depending on the access and use conditions (see below). Please use the

  • Why do some items in the AIATSIS Collection have access and use conditions?

    Items in the AIATSIS Collection may have conditions that mean only some people may view, listen to and/or have a copy of them. There are a number of reasons why. For example, some items:

    • contain culturally sensitive content;
    • are restricted to men or women only;
    • are restricted to specific community groups or families;
    • contain personal information or genealogical information; and/or
    • the depositor or creator of the collection material would like to be informed of and/or approve access to their items.

    For further information please refer to the AIATSIS Access and Use Policy. 

  • How do I ask for access to or copies of items in the Collection?

    You can make a request for access to or get a copy of items in the Collection by completing our online request form. 

    When making a request, we encourage you to send us one of the following:

    Please also tell us the names of the particular people, languages, places or subjects you are interested in.

    Note that fees may apply.

  • Can I borrow items from the Collection?

    Unfortunately, no. The published items in the AIATSIS Collection are reference items which means they cannot be loaned out to the general public.

    If you would like to borrow published items, search Trove to check if you can borrow a copy from your local, state or university library.

    Unpublished items cannot be borrowed but a copy may be provided to you subject to access and use conditions.

    Requests for exhibition loans can be made by sending an email to

  • What is the ROMTIC program?

    Our return of material to Indigenous communities (ROMTIC) program recognises the importance of providing copies of collection items to the communities from which they originated. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians can receive free copies of up to twenty collection items per financial year relating to their cultural heritage or their family. Normal collection copying fees will apply to any further additional copies.
    We also encourage people to check what is in the collection from year to year as new items are added and digitised.

  • What is an ABI catalogue record?

    ABI stands for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index. The ABI is an index of personal names that have been published or mentioned in materials held in the AIATSIS print collection. The ABI can be searched via our Collection catalogue, Mura. The index may be useful for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are researching their family history. 

Education and training

Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Family history

AIATSIS Map and other products

Proof of Aboriginality

Indigenous Research Exchange

  • What is the Indigenous Research Exchange grant program?

    AIATSIS is committed to ensuring greater involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in setting research priorities, leading research projects and determining the appropriate collection and use of data about communities. The Indigenous Research Exchange grant program has funded 32 projects that:

    • support high quality, impactful, Indigenous-led research; 
    • improve the accessibility and availability of quality robust research and evidence-based solutions
    • support organisations (outside of research bodies) to participate in research activities that will have relevance and impact beyond the community and project.

     The current grant program is fully expended. Any new rounds will be announced on this website. 

  • Yumi Sabe - Indigenous Knowledge Exchange platform

    What is Yumi Sabe?

    Yumi Sabe is a central online portal for Indigenous data discovery and research. It will highlight Indigenous-led research and provide a culturally safe place for knowledge (data and evidence).

    What is the purpose of the Yumi Sabe?

    To make research findings more accessible, more contestable and more usable. The platform will make data and evidence available and accessible to communities and other stakeholders.

    What research/data will be available on the platform?

    The Exchange is currently investigating research and data sets that can be made accessible through the platform. Yumi Sabe will provide access to:

    • AIATSIS research and data sets
    • Project findings and outcomes from the Indigenous Research Exchange Grant Program
    • Other relevant Indigenous data repositories
    • Indigenous research or data that is deposited into the platform by other organisations, communities or individuals

    Research findings to be available on the platform include (but are not limited to):

    • Project reports
    • Qualitative and quantitative data
    • Frameworks
    • Models of best practice
    • Recordings
    • Images/video
    • Publications
    • Conference/workshop presentations

    Data will only be shared and made accessible where permission has been granted by the respective copyright and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) holders.  

    How is research being kept safe on the platform?

    The platform is being developed with consideration of the highest standards in regards to IT security and cultural safety. The platform build is guided by Indigenous expertise to ensure best practice in data management, governance and access protocols. More information on security and safety strategies will be provided as they are finalised. 

    Will I be able to deposit my research on the platform? And who can access it?

    Researchers, organisations and individuals will be able to offer their research and data for inclusion on the platform once it has been tested and launched. The aim is to continually add new research to build on the evidence base. 

    Access to research and data on the platform will follow protocols that are being developed by the Exchange. Indigenous data governance, ICIP and the management of sensitive data will be the overarching principles of the platform to protect the rights of copyright and ICIP owners. For this reason access conditions will be determined by the owners of the data to ensure access is culturally appropriate – only those with permission will be able to access sensitive data.

Research ethics

  • Does the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee accept external applications?

    Yes, the committee welcomes applications from external organisations (fees apply).

  • How long will it take to assess my application?

    Applicants will receive an outcome within ten (10) working days after the committee meeting.

  • What jurisdiction does AIATSIS ethics approval cover?

    Ethics approval granted by AIATSIS applies nationally and to cross-jurisdictional research. In most cases, approval from the AIATSIS committee is adequate.

  • Do I need approval from other Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs)?

    Depending on the nature of the project, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities may request additional approval from their local or preferred Human Research Ethics Committee. In projects relating to education or health, ethics approval may be required from relevant education departments, health departments or hospitals for each jurisdiction. The AIATSIS committee can provide further advice on this.

  • Do I need letters of support?

    Letters of support are typically always required for all projects involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An applicant may use other means to provide evidence of support by demonstrating the project has been discussed with relevant stakeholders, the stakeholders understand the implications of the project and the stakeholders agree the project is worthwhile. 

  • How do I submit a variation?

    Variations to approved applications must be submitted to the Co-Chairpersons for review and approval. Depending on the complexity of the variation, it may be reviewed in-session by the full Committee.

    To progress a Variation Request, please submit:

    • A Variation letter addressed to the Committee Co-Chairpersons. (see template below)
    • The revised Ethics Application form with tracked changes applied.
    • Relevant supporting documents with tracked changes applied.

    Variation Requests for approved projects that were allocated a REC# can be submitted through the AIATSIS Research Ethics Platform. All projects that were allocated an EO # will need to email their Variation Requests to the Secretariat of the AIATSIS REC.

  • Where can I direct my complaint?

    Complaints relating to research projects approved by the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee can be directed to the Executive Director of Research and Education and/or the Co-Chairpersons of the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee.

    Executive Director of Research and Education 

    Ms Mandy Downing and Mr Chris Bourke
    Co-Chairpersons, AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee 

Visiting AIATSIS

Last updated: 23 January 2024