About The Code

The Indigenous Art Code (the Code) aims to ensure fair trade with Indigenous artists.

The Code:

  • establishes a set of standards for commercial dealing with Indigenous visual artists;
  • provides a benchmark for ethical behaviour; and
  • builds greater certainty for consumers that the artworks they buy come through ethical processes.

Commercial art dealers located in Australia or internationally, including art centres, galleries and individual dealers can show their commitment to fair and transparent business dealings with artists by becoming a Dealer Member of Indigenous Art Code Limited (IartC) and a signatory to the Code. Find out more about becoming a Dealer Member.

IartC membership is also open to Indigenous artists and any organisation or individual who is not involved in commercial dealing with artists but would like to show their support for the Code and be involved in IartC. Find out more about Indigenous Artist membership and Code Supporter membership.


The Code – an update April 2015

As a result of the Australian Government’s 2007 Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Indigenous visual arts and craft sector, it was recommended that the Indigenous arts commercial sector be given the opportunity to self-regulate via a Voluntary Code of Conduct, and that, if after two years persistent problems remain, consideration should be given to moving to a prescribed code of conduct under the Trade Practices Act 1974 (now the Competition and Consumer Act 2010).
In November 2012 after two years of operation, Indigenous Art Code Limited (IArtC Ltd) submitted a Report of the IArtC Ltd to the Federal Minister for the Arts recommending a Prescribed Code of Conduct for the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry. The report stated that

“There continues to be significant unethical and unfair treatment and exploitation of Indigenous artists by some dealers in the Industry.  While the majority of dealers have acceptable professional standards and operate in good faith when dealing with Indigenous artists, the misconduct identified in the Senate Report persists and there is an unacceptable level of exploitation of Indigenous artists.  The nature of the misconduct has not changed significantly since the Senate Report was published in 2007.”

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC has confirmed The Federal government has “decided not to pursue alternative regulatory options at this stage” and “would like to see the Code continue in its voluntary capacity to allow it more time to build on its strengths”.

What next?

The Indigenous Art Code Ltd (Code) has a significant role in ensuring fair trade with Indigenous artists.

The Code:

  • Establishes a set of standards for commercial dealing with Indigenous visual artists;
  • Provides a benchmark for ethical behaviour; and builds greater certainty for consumers that the artworks they buy come through ethical processes.

The IArtC is committed to maximising the effectiveness of the existing voluntary Code and will continue to promote and support best practice in the industry and associate the Code brand with best practice.

Education and information focussed on the consumer

IArtC has determined that one of the most effective strategies to raise the awareness and efficacy of a voluntary Code involves enhancing its utility and appeal to consumers of Indigenous art.

The Indigenous Commercial Visual arts industry exists because people want to purchase Indigenous art. The IArtC will work to educate and inform consumers on purchasing Indigenous art ethically, providing a structure for dealers to promote ethical practice, respecting the significant contribution Indigenous artists make to the Australian Visual Arts sector and economy.

Given the very limited resources of the IArtC (there is one full time staff member supported by a board of directors) it is critical that the organisation is supported in its endeavors by a committed and active membership base. Together with our membership base, we are looking to upgrade the quality of information we provide to consumers. It is intended that the IArtC website will be gradually updated to reflect this focus. In addition IArtC intends to work on adding value to its members by being a practical resource, providing more information about dealer members and their business models.

Review membership requirements.

‘IArtC is currently reviewing, among other things, the criteria that an applicant must satisfy in order to be admitted as a member of the Code – whether that be as an artist member, dealer member or code supporter member. While this review is underway, the directors of IartC will not be admitting any new members of the Code. We aim to complete this review by July 30, 2015.

A membership drive will follow reflecting the Code’s focus on building greater certainty for consumers that the artworks they buy come through ethical processes supporting fair trade with Indigenous artists.

If there is information you require please contact Gabrielle Sullivan 0438 637 862 or gabrielle@indigenousartcode.org


Welcome from the Chair

The Indigenous visual arts industry has seen enormous growth over the last decade. It represents a significant part of Indigenous Australian culture which is proving not only intriguing and beautiful to the non Indigenous world—both here in Australia and overseas—but has become a valuable commodity which has the potential to provide significant benefit to Indigenous artists, their families and communities and Indigenous Australian people as a whole.

The majority of the Indigenous visual arts industry is doing the right thing – making fair deals with artists, being clear and transparent throughout those deals and providing support where needed. However, as the Senate Report Indigenous Art – Securing the Future highlights, there are still examples of unethical, misleading or unconscionable behaviour, which exploits individual artists, affecting not only them but their families, communities and the entire industry.

The Code is a significant step towards securing ethical trade for the industry. It establishes a set of industry standards, provides a benchmark for ethical behaviour and gives consumers greater certainty that the artworks they buy come through ethical processes.

IartC is a public company, limited by guarantee, which provides the governance and legal framework to administer the Code. In joining IartC, Dealers commit to upholding the Code. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I invite all individuals and organisations engaged in commercial trade with Indigenous artists to show their commitment to a strong and fair Indigenous visual arts industry by applying to join IartC.

It is worth pointing out that the approval process for applications will take a broadly inclusive approach.  This is very deliberate, as it is not the intention of the Code to form an exclusive club, but to raise the standards across the whole of industry. Only once a Dealer has signed up and committed to uphold the Code, can their behaviour be assessed by the requirements of the Code. In this way, we hope to change the behaviour and raise the standards of the industry as a whole – making those who choose to continue to act outside of these standards or deny the worth of the Code, more visible and more accountable for their practices.

The Board also invites Indigenous artists and supporters of the Code who are not engaged in commercial dealings with Indigenous artists to join IartC and work with us to build a strong and fair Indigenous visual arts industry.

IartC is grateful to have the backing of the Australian Government through endorsement and financial support for the next two years and appreciate the additional support committed by the Cultural Ministers Council to assist us with promotional and educational activity. It is now up to us, the industry to make the Code work.

Richard  England

 © 2015



  • 06.3.2014

    The latest newsletter is available here.  IartC Newsletter – March 2014

  • 16.9.2013

    The IartC Chair, Mr Ron Merkel QC is pleased to announce the following outcomes from the IartC Annual General Meeting held on Friday 6 September. More

  • 22.4.2013

    An update from the Chair, Ron Merkel QC, on developments towards a mandatory code of conduct in relation to Indigenous artists and art.


  • 09.1.2013

    It is with great sadness that we mark the death of Billy Missi (Pal’n) who passed away on 22 December 2012. More