Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is getting the jump on proposed national regulations by banning fake Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander products out of respect for Indigenous people.
Inauthentic items will be phased out at the markets from July 1 next year before new laws – signalled by the Productivity Commission – potentially to come into effect in late 2023.
Selling inauthentic Indigenous products was out of step with contemporary Australian values and expectations, and many would be surprised it was going on in 2022, market chief executive Stan Liacos says.
The Productivity Commission found two in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-style souvenirs sold in Australia have no connection to Indigenous people.
“Selling inauthentic products isn’t just disrespectful to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and dishonest to customers, it also undercuts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and legitimate artists who are trading in authentic items and trying to make a living,” Mr Liacos said.
“We’re not waiting for new national laws to come into place – we’re acting now.”
The market would take a collaborative approach to phasing out the products, given traders weren’t knowingly doing the wrong thing, Mr Liacos said.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp pushed the market’s management towards making the move.
“By preventing the sale of these inauthentic products at Queen Victoria Market, we are creating opportunities for the sale of authentic items that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and show greater respect to traditional landowners,” she said.
The ban acknowledges the significance of the market’s site and its surrounding area to the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation, who are the land’s Traditional Owners.
It is part of a broader effort to gradually improve the variety and standard of merchandise sold at the market.