Melbourne’s iconic Queen Victoria Market will ban the sale of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander products and honestly, how this isn’t common practice across the country is beyond me!
The decision has come after the Productivity Commission in August found two out of three “Indigenous” styled souvenirs sold in Australia (like boomerangs, for example) are fakes that have no connection to First Nations communities.
There are new laws planned to protect authentic First Nations art and products off the back of the commission. However, those won’t go into effect for at least another year.
So, the Market has taken the issue into its own hands and decided to ban the sale of any inauthentic First Nations products in its venue. Go off!
Queen Victoria Market CEO Stan Liacos said selling knock-off Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander products isn’t just out-dated AF, it’s disrespectful and harmful to local First Nations businesses too.
“Many people would be surprised that this kind of thing is going on right across Australia in 2022,” he said.
“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.
“We’re not waiting for new national laws to come into place — we’re acting now.”
Liacos said the ban was also part of the market’s effort to acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land the Market occupies.
Queen Victoria Market plans to work closely with traders to phase out any knock-off products by 1 July 2023.
“We’ll be taking a collaborative approach,” Liacos continued.
“We know our traders aren’t knowingly doing the wrong thing and we’ll be supporting affected businesses to transition their product mix.”
According to Liacos, the knock-off ban is also part of wider effort to slowly improve the the type of merchandise sold at the Market, which is line with customer feedback. But the market wants to make sure that it does so in a way that helps traders become better, too.
“While we remain committed to ensuring there will always be a wide range of products available at the Market to suit all budgets, today’s announcement is part of a range of improvements to modernise the Market while protecting those things that make it much-loved by locals and visitors,” he said.