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By Kate Cranney Rebecca Thorpe 1 June 2022 4 min read

Meet Tjungundji and Koko-Berra woman, Ziggi Busch.

For the past year, Ziggi has been working with our Office of Indigenous Engagement as a Project Support Officer. Her work centres on the all-important development of CSIRO's Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) framework, principles and supporting resources.

From Bond to Boggo Road: Ziggi’s start with CSIRO

Ziggi graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from Bond University in June 2021.

“I initially chose to study law because, when learning about our history, I could see how it was used to oppress our people. Law is a powerful instrument. I wanted to understand it, to see what could be leveraged for our empowerment and benefit,” Ziggi said.

“I’ve realised that we can have power in this legal system. And it’s really important we increase the number of Indigenous legal professionals we have. Currently, we make up about 0.8 per cent of the profession.

“The ICIP space is a great example of where we can apply law to protect our rights. Though we have a long way to go, we need legislation covering ICIP.”

Ziggi first joined us as a vacation scholarship student in the Inquiry for Indigenous Science Students Program[Link will open in a new window], towards the end of her law degree. She then stayed on as an Education Advisor until she started her current role, based at Boggo Road in Brisbane.

So what is Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property?

“Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property is incredibly important. And it is a lot of things!” Ziggi said.

“Essentially, it is material derived from our heritage(s) such as artworks, music, stories, knowledges, dances, and more that are passed down through the generations. Clothes with Indigenous art and designs exemplar ICIP in art and fashion. And in a research context, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge.

“Australia’s intellectual property system – such as copyright, patents and trademarks – is based off a Western system of ownership. It was not designed for, or to correspond with, Indigenous Knowledge systems.

“The legal system does not adequately protect ICIP for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities or organisations. And so, through the ongoing impacts and processes of colonisation, the ownership and control of ICIP is often lost or not afforded in the first place. This means benefits do not flow back to Indigenous Knowledge holders.

“It has been incredibly rewarding doing my legal placement at CSIRO and being able to use creative legal solutions to protect ICIP.”

Protecting ICIP in a new ABC-TV series

Recently, Ziggi has been involved with the Many Lands, Many Seasons ABC-TV and CSIRO co-production. The series – available now on iView[Link will open in a new window] – explores six Aboriginal seasonal calendars. Head over to CSIROscope for more information.

Ziggi has worked to ensure our website, which hosts the various seasonal calendars[Link will open in a new window], is ready for the increased traffic.

“While it’s great to see this work promoted and people are interested in learning more, we need to be mindful that this also brings a higher potential for misappropriation of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property,” Ziggi said.

"In the digital world, it’s difficult to control what happens. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.

“There have been instances of misuse in the past. For example the calendars have been downloaded from our website and people have gone on to adapt the material, post it on social media or used them in a manner that disrespects the Traditional Knowledge/ICIP.

“My role is really about ensuring we, and more importantly the ICIP holders, do not lose control or oversight of how it’s being used. This is really important because these Traditional Knowledges are sacred in their own right and need to be protected and respected," Ziggi said.

Ziggi and Stephanie von Gavel, Business Development Manager, have also created terms and conditions that users must acknowledge before downloading the calendars. And, together with Louisa Warren, Executive Manager of the Office of Indigenous Engagement, Ziggi reviewed the voice over scripts for the series.

“It was cool to see the ABC incorporate our suggestions into the final cut,” Ziggi said.

“I encourage everyone to watch the series. It’s a great way to get an understanding of the deep knowledge and understanding of Australia’s First Scientists.”

What’s next for Ziggi?

Ziggi will soon finish her practical legal studies and then aims to get admitted as a lawyer.

“I’m looking forward to rolling out the ICIP principles we’ve been working on by the end of this year. It’s going to be great for the organisation and by extension the Indigenous communities we work with.”

With her role finishing in December, she looks forward to seeing where opportunities in ICIP may take her.

“Whether that’s in CSIRO or maybe playing more of a community role with ICIP, it would be great to represent Indigenous artists, and educate Mob in general, of their ICIP rights and what can be done to protect them,” she said.

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