What is in the AIATSIS collection?
The AIATSIS collection holds the world's largest collection dedicated to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories. It includes published books, journals and pamphlets relating to all topics about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as unpublished manuscripts, maps, sound recordings, films and video recordings, photographs, artworks and objects.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?
Search for collection items using the AIATSIS Collections Catalogue Mura, which can be accessed from the AIATSIS Collection platform.
Some larger unpublished collections have a finding aid, which is a descriptive listing of what is in a collection of papers, sound recordings or films and videos.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.
Many images of art and objects in the collection can also be found on the AIATSIS Collection platform.×
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 people and studies. If you cannot find a particular title, try searching Trove to locate item/s at your local, State or university library or archive.×
Can I access items in the AIATSIS collection on site at AIATSIS?
The majority of published items held in the collection are readily available for public access from the Stanner Reading Room located in the AIATSIS building in Acton, Canberra. (https://goo.gl/maps/UiN8aC1zwRB2).
Rare published items may be accessed on request depending on the condition of the item.
Unpublished items may be accessed on request subject to access and use conditions. Their catalogue records provide information about access and use conditions in the Access field. Access to unpublished items is best arranged before you visit, as these are subject to access and use conditions which may be determined by the depositor, creator, and/or communities which the content depicts.
If you want to access unpublished items you will need to complete an Indemnity form. You might also need to gain permission from depositors, copyright owners or community representatives, which might take some time. Therefore, clients are encouraged to contact AIATSIS before visiting AIATSIS.×
I’m not located near AIATSIS. Can I get a copy of material/s from the collection?
A copy of items in the collection may be sent to you depending on any access and use conditions made by the depositor, creator, and/or communities which the content depicts.
Unpublished items may be accessed on request subject to access and use conditions. Their catalogue record information about access and use conditions in the Access field.
If you would like to have a copy of unpublished items, you need to complete an Indemnity form and/or gain permission from depositors, copyright owners or community representatives. Only then can AIATSIS provide you with a copy.
A copy of part of published items can be sent to you subject to copyright law. For further information about copyright, please visit the Copyright Council website×
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;
- Ae 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 Access and Use Policy: AIATSIS Collection (PDF, 555KB).×
How do I ask for access to or copies of items in the collection?
You can make a request for access to or a copy of items in the collection by completing a request form.
Search the online catalogue Mura and provide the Call number and / or Item number (identified in the finding aid), Title, Author and Access conditions on the request form or copy catalogue records into the request form. When searching Mura you can make a list of items which you can send to yourself and copy to your request.
For requesting copies of parts of print published items please also include page numbers in your request.
Information about fees associated with copies can be located on our website.×
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 check TROVE to see 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.×
What is ROMTIC?
ROMTIC means Return of material to Indigenous Communities/Clients. This special AIATSIS 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 copies of 20 collection items per financial year, relating to their cultural heritage or their family, free of charge. Above this amount, normal collection copying costs apply.
AIATSIS also encourages 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 index can be searched via our online catalogue, Mura. The index may be useful for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are researching their family history. See further information about the ABI.
Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture
How do I get a copy of the AIATSIS map?×
I would like to use the AIATSIS map in a publication?
If you would like to use the AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia in a publication you must get permission from the Aboriginal Studies Press. See further information about copyright permission and forms.×
Who are the traditional custodians of my area?
In order to find information on traditional custodians of a particular area please contact the local area council or Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC). Also try searching the Yellow Pages using the keywords ‘Aboriginal’ in the “Business type or name” box and add a place name. Or try a web search for ‘Aboriginal’ and the place name. You could also try the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations to locate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations within a particular area.×
How do I arrange a tour of AIATSIS?
AIATSIS welcomes community interest in learning about the Institute and its collection. We can tailor tours for a variety of groups. Please contact our Public Programs team for enquiries or to make a booking email@example.com.×
I would like to engage with Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander persons for my studies or work, can AIATSIS help?
AIATSIS cannot help with referral services for engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or individuals. We recommend that people wishing to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get in touch with their Local Aboriginal Land Council or other local Indigenous organisation(s). See Who are the traditional custodians of my area?×
How can I get my family’s birth, death or marriage certificate?
AIATSIS is not a repository of registered births, deaths, or marriages. If you are looking for Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) records of family members, we recommend that you contact with the BDM registry for the State or Territory that your family lived in. For more information, please see our Birth, Death and Marriage records web page.×
How do I obtain a certificate of proof or confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage?
AIATSIS does not ask you to provide a letter of confirmation to identify as an Indigenous person in order to access our services. However, you may be asked to provide proof or confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage when applying for Indigenous-specific services or programs.
Government agencies and community organisations usually accept three ‘working criteria’ as confirmation of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage:
- being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent,
- identifying as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person,
- being accepted as such by the community in which you live, or formerly lived.
For more information please visit Finding Your Family.×
I’m interested in DNA testing for confirming Aboriginality.
AIATSIS does not provide such a test. You may wish to read the section on Genetic testing and Aboriginality for a discussion on using DNA testing for such a purpose.×
Can AIATSIS create my family tree for me?
AIATSIS does not provide this service. The AIATSIS collections may assist you with your family history research. Our collections include information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families, communities and places. Our Family History Unit can also help you to find information in our and other collections across Australia. For further information please see Finding you family.×
Where can I buy an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Flag?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags and merchandise can be purchased directly from Flag Worlds.
For more information about the Aboriginal flag please visit Aboriginal Flag.×
Where can I get information on Local Aboriginal Land Councils or Prescribed Body Corporates?
The Australian Government website has some information and links on Aboriginal Land Councils.
Extensive information about Prescribed Body Corporates can be found on the PBC website.×
How do I find and use word(s) in an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language?
We recommend reaching out to your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community groups, community organisations or Land Council for advice. AIATSIS does not advise clients on the appropriate use of Aboriginal language terms.
You can search for languages by name or location with our AUSTLANG which is available from the AIATSIS Collection platform.
First Languages Australia also has resources to help identify what languages different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak in parts of Australia.×
What is the difference between 'Welcome to Country' and 'Acknowledgement of Country', and why is it important?
A 'Welcome to Country' and 'Acknowledgement of Country' precedes an activity such as of an official gathering, meeting, speech or formal occasion. These statements recognise the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australian culture and history and show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
A 'Welcome to Country' is an important ceremony done by a Traditional Owner, custodian or Elder of the land where the event is taking place. A 'Welcome to Country' can be performed through a speech, dance, song or ceremony. A 'Welcome to country' helps visitors recognise the traditional owners, their culture and history.
An 'Acknowledgement of Country' pays respect and acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land. An acknowledgement can be performed by anyone, not only a traditional custodian the land on which the event is being held.
For further information please refer to the document, https://www.reconciliation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Welcome-to-and-Acknowledgement-of-Country.pdf (PDF) published by the Reconciliation Australia.