Enhance and Enable - Indigenous Knowledge Consultations 2021

Closed 31 May 2021

Opened 23 Feb 2021


Our Enhance and Enable Indigenous Knowledge Consultation Report 2021 is now available. This summarises stakeholder feedback and next steps. In our report, we are pleased to be able to feature the painting "Yuliyin Marradhal Yandhul" meaning Past, Present and Future created for IP Australia by Dalmarri Pty Ltd.

In our 2021 consultations we sought feedback on four options to enhance Australia’s IP system to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to benefit from and protect their Indigenous Knowledge (IK): 

  1. Establish an Indigenous Advisory Panel – provide a formal Indigenous voice to IP Australia. 
  2. Enhance the process for trade marks and designs – support IK owners to benefit from, and consent to, the use of their IK. 
  3. Declare the source of IK in new innovations – encourage transparency and recognition of IK owners 
  4. Explore interest in authenticity labelling – promote Indigenous products. 

We connected with Traditional custodians, Indigenous business owners, academics, and other stakeholders, through written submissions, survey responses, focus groups, webinars, and one-on-one conversations. We sincerely thank all stakeholders who took the time to engage with us.  

This consultation is now closed. Join our mail list to receive updates as the work progresses.

The following non-confidential submissions were received during our 2021 consultations: 

To find out more about IP Australia’s work to support IK, visit our IK Project webpage.

Got a question? Email us at IKProject@ipaustralia.gov.au and we’ll get in touch.

What is Indigenous Knowledge?

We use 'Indigenous Knowledge' or ‘IK’ as a term to cover a range of knowledge held and continually developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes:

  • Traditional Cultural Expressions – or ‘TCEs’ are sometimes referred to as 'folklore' and include languages, music, performances, songlines, stories, dance, symbols, designs, visual art, crafts and architecture.
  • Traditional Knowledge – or ‘TK’, refers to knowledge resulting from intellectual activity in a traditional context and includes know-how, practices, skills and innovations. This can be in a range of areas such as agricultural, scientific, technical, ecological, medicinal and biodiversity-related knowledge. It includes knowledge about genetic resources.
    • A ‘genetic resource’ can be any biological material, including plants, fungi and animals. In some areas within Australia, the informed consent of the local Indigenous community is a precondition for permission to collect a genetic resource for commercial purposes, which may include research.

Even though the word ‘traditional’ is used to describe these concepts, they are not static; they are continually used and built upon.

Webinar Recordings

Intersted to learn more about IP and IK? As part of the 2021 consultations we ran two webinars that you can still access.

Webinar - Developing your Unique Brand: First Nations Language and art in trade marks

Recording  available here.

As a First Nations business owner, do you want to use language or art in your branding? Are you looking for answers on what to protect and how? This webinar covers the basics about trade marks, what they protect, and the unique considerations that apply when using First Nations art and language in your branding.

Webinar   Indigenous Knowledge: Opportunities in the IP System

Recording available here.

Our short webinar on IP rights covered the basics about patents, plant breeder’s rights, trade marks and designs. We also explore how the IP system can help protect IK.

Why your views matter

Our aim is to enhance the intellectual property system to help enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to benefit from and protect their Indigenous Knowledge.

IP Australia consulted on (1) an Indigenous Advisory Panel, (2) trade marks and designs measures and (3) a disclosure requirement for patents and plant breeder’s rights following from what we heard in 2018-19 consultations. We have adapted these ideas to reflect what we heard and using additional feedback from this consultation will move to implement these changes.

Consultation on labelling for authentic Indigenous products was part of the response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ Report on the impact of inauthentic art and craft in the style of First Nations peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives will guide the changes we make.


  • Innovators/Business
  • IP attorney profession
  • Applicants/Rights holders
  • Thought leaders


  • Patents
  • Trade marks
  • Designs
  • Plant breeder's rights
  • Indigenous Knowledge