Protocols are reinforced by a formal written agreement. An agreement has important benefits for all parties, as it provides clarity on all aspects of the project. It can also provide communities with the confidence to continue to publish materials since, through an agreement, communities feel they can control the content and use of works published in their languages. Indigenous communities are sometimes hesitant about working with consultants, but communities can also be empowered through a well-negotiated agreement. For consultants, an agreement defines the expectations of the community and makes clear the role of the consultant(s) in the project.
The Arts Law Centre of Australia has developed a model agreement which is easy to use and in plain English. The model agreement is free of charge, is available from the FATSIL office or can be downloaded from the website www.fatsilc.org.
An agreement needs to be signed by a person or organisation that is recognised by the law. For example, companies, Aboriginal corporations, incorporated associations, co-operatives and individuals can sign agreements. An Indigenous community itself, unless it is incorporated, does not have legal status. If your community or organisation is not already incorporated, contact the Office of the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations for details on how to do this.1
Any formal agreement must be supported by good consultation and the following of protocols, together with trust and good faith in working relationships. Respect, honesty, rapport, and careful listening to what the community has to say are important bases of any formal written agreement.
1 Contact details of the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations can be found at the end of this booklet.