The Museum has a comprehensive suite of policies and plans. These are monitored and reviewed at regular intervals and made publicly available on the Museum’s website. Three of the Museum’s published policies or plans require reporting of activities or performance in the Museum’s 2015–16 Annual Report: the Reconciliation Action Plan, the Indigenous Australian Art Charter of Principles for Publicly Funded Collecting Institutions and the Customer Service Charter.
Reconciliation Action Plan 2015–16
In May 2015 the Museum launched its Innovate: Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2015–16. The Museum has made a commitment to report on RAP activities in its annual report. Its vision for reconciliation is to work closely with communities to create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to contribute to, and participate in, the Museum’s programs. The Museum strives to show respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to value their culture and histories and to be inclusive and welcoming to all. The Director and senior executive members champion the Museum’s RAP, and participate as members of the RAP Working Group together with staff from all divisions of the Museum. The RAP Working Group includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people. The current RAP will be extended into the 2016–17 financial year. The RAP Working Group met twice during the reporting period, and has contributed to, or coordinated, the following activities against RAP targets:
- The Museum celebrated National Reconciliation Week 2016 by holding a barbecue for staff on 3 June 2016, Mabo Day. The establishment of the Peter Yu Award, to recognise staff who make a significant contribution to the implementation of the RAP, was announced at this event. This award was named in honour of the outgoing Council member Mr Peter Yu, who was also the inaugural chair of the Museum’s Indigenous Reference Group. The Museum also engaged in a range of social media activities to mark National Reconciliation Week and Mabo Day.
- The Museum’s recruitment section includes RAP information in its ‘new starter’ packs and induction sessions for new staff.
- The Museum continues to acknowledge and promote significant anniversaries and events through social media and online, including through the Defining Moments in Australian History project and webpage.
- Throughout 2015–16 the Museum celebrated the cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the following: collaborating in the Encounters project, which included a major exhibition and international conference; launching the Encounters Indigenous Cultural Workers Scholarships program, in partnership with The Prince’s Charities Australia; consultation with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over the development of the new orientation space for the First Australians gallery; touring the One Road: Aboriginal Art from Australia’s Deserts exhibition to Japan; launching a new graphic-panel display of works from the Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists exhibition, for supply to Australian diplomatic posts around the world.
- During 2015–16 protocols for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country ceremonies were developed, and consultation was undertaken in regard to incorporating Welcome to Country in local languages in the Museum’s Main Hall and the redeveloped Forecourt.
- In regard to retail merchandise obtained from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and suppliers, an Indigenous procurement policy was developed and procurement practices were reviewed.
- In September 2015 the Museum advised the Australian Public Service Commission that it was nominating an Indigenous employment target of 5 per cent. The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people employed by the Museum has remained static during the reporting period: 12 employees, representing 4.97 per cent of Museum staff.
One of the key commitments in the Museum’s RAP is continued support for the Museum Indigenous Network (MINmin). Membership of MINmin is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. The purpose of MINmin, as expressed in its mandate, is to support Indigenous employees in their role at the Museum, both socially and in the workplace. MINmin recognises the unique challenges that face Indigenous Australian museum professionals and works towards creating positive and collaborative futures for Indigenous employees in the cultural sector. During 2015–16 MINmin has been involved in several activities, including:
- holding regular get-togethers to discuss personal and work-related issues affecting MINmin members
- hosting NAIDOC celebrations for staff and other cultural institutions’ Indigenous networks
- contributing to the redevelopment of the First Australians gallery Orientation Space
- participating in the RAP working group to ensure that the Indigenous perspective is taken into account in all the group’s discussions and actions.
Diversity Action Plan
The Museum’s commitment to promoting a diverse workplace culture as embodied in the RAP is further evidenced in its commitment to developing a workforce of employees who reflect the broad spectrum of Australian communities. Through the Diversity Action Plan, the Museum develops and implements strategies to ensure that the Museum celebrates and values diversity, creates a fair and respectful workplace culture, and builds and retains diverse capabilities and experiences. The Museum has progressed a number of diversity initiatives this year, including:
- ongoing, proactive support and return-to-work programs for ill and injured staff
- embracing a flexible workplace environment that caters for staff needs
- identifying and creating special measures or identified positions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- embedding accessibility considerations into projects
- increasing staff awareness of accessibility issues
- encouraging staff to participate in multicultural activities and celebrations.
Indigenous Australian Art Charter of Principles for Publicly Funded Collecting Institutions
The Museum endorsed the Indigenous Australian Art Charter of Principles for Publicly Funded Collecting Institutions (the Charter) by publishing it on its website.
The Museum has embedded the obligations and commitments outlined in the Charter into all relevant areas of museological practice, most notably through the incorporation of due diligence and consultation requirements in its collection acquisition procedures, and through the development and adoption of the Indigenous Cultural Rights and Engagement Policy and Principles.
In March 2015, the Museum’s Council approved the Indigenous Cultural Rights and Engagement Policy and Principles. This represented a groundbreaking new policy for the Museum, building upon and complementing existing policies and practices. Indigenous cultural and intellectual property refers to Indigenous people’s rights to their heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression. Through the adoption of the Indigenous Cultural Rights and Engagement Policy and Principles, the Museum formally recognised Indigenous cultural and intellectual property (ICIP) rights and committed to a set of principles to guide its engagement with Indigenous peoples and their cultural heritage.
These principles aim to:
- recognise and respect Indigenous peoples’ rights to access, maintain and control the use of their cultural heritage
- outline how the Museum engages with Indigenous peoples, their cultural heritage and its associated rights, including through appropriate interpretation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage within the Museum
- give public acknowledgement to the value of ICIP and to reinforce the Museum’s support for the recognition of ICIP rights
- establish a transparent feedback and complaints process regarding the Museum’s engagement with Indigenous peoples and its dealings with ICIP.
The Indigenous Cultural Rights and Engagement Policy and Principles is publicly available on the Museum’s website, and a training package has been developed to raise awareness and engage staff in understanding and applying the principles where relevant to their work.
In October 2015 the Museum conducted two workshops for a broad cross-section of Museum staff. Further workshops will be delivered as part of an ongoing training and awareness program.
Client Service Charter
The Museum’s Client Service Charter is available to the public on the Museum’s website. The Museum has committed to publishing a summary of its performance against the charter each year in its annual report.
During 2015–16 the Museum received 560 written comments from visitors using the Visitor Feedback form or social media, which was about 113 per cent higher than the previous year. The increase is attributable to the inclusion of social media comments and an increase in feedback relating to exhibitions. Most feedback comments took the form of general remarks, questions or suggestions.
Approximately 65 per cent of feedback was positive, referring to the Museum’s staff, services, galleries and exhibitions. Negative feedback accounted for about 14 per cent of comments and related to exhibitions, programs, services or facilities.
The Museum received 530 emails through firstname.lastname@example.org compared with 859 received in 2014–15. These emails covered a range of enquiries related to Museum Cafe bookings and venue hire, school and educational tours, conservation of items, object donations, historical event/object curatorial research, requests for copyrighted audiovisual media, and retail in-store and online products.