In early December 2018, new regulations for the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage (PMCH) Act 1986 (Cth) came into force, which will affect the export and trade in material cultural heritage, and in particular, Indigenous art.

 

The 1987 regulations for the PMCH Act required that ‘fine art objects of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage’ needed export permits if they met the minimum benchmarks of AUD$10,000 value and 20 years of age.

 

Below is a summary of the changes affecting Indigenous art, which has seen the greatest overhaul in restrictions from the 1987 regulatory framework:

 

  1. Aboriginal desert paintings that do not include sacred and secret imagery will require a permit if they are 30 years of age or more and valued at AUD$100,000 or more (sacred secret imagery will be denied export);
  2. Aboriginal Kimberley paintings on canvas will require a permit if they are 30 years of age or more and valued at AUD$100,000 or more;
  3. Aboriginal watercolours, pastels, drawings, sketches and other similar works will require a permit if they are 30 years of age or more and valued at AUD$40,000 or more;
  4. Aboriginal synthetic polymer (acrylic) paintings not covered in 1, 2 and 3 above will require a permit if they are 30 years of age or more and valued at AUD$350,000 or more;
  5. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander natural pigment (ochre) paintings that are on bark, composition board, wood, cardboard, stone or other similar supports will require a permit if they are 30 years of age or more and valued at AUD$20,000 or more;
  6. Aboriginal Sculptures will require a permit if they are 30 years of age or more and valued at AUD$30,000 or more;
  7. Pre-1901 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artworks valued at AUD$25,000 or more cannot be exported out of Australia;
  8. Pre-1960 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander bark paintings or sculptures valued at AUD$25,000 or more cannot be exported out of Australia.

 

For further information on other regulatory changes to other categories of cultural heritage covered by the PMCH Act, please refer to the Regulations’ explanatory statement  https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2018L01710/Explanatory%20Statement/Text or contact https://www.arts.gov.au/what-we-do/cultural-heritage/movable-cultural-heritage