The company that gave Oscar nominees a small plot of land in outback Queensland as part of their lavish gift bags at the Academy Awards has been accused of using photos and information from an indigenous group without consent.
Actors and directors nominated for an Academy Award took home a lavish gift bag with an estimated value of $150,000, including coupons for plastic surgery, beauty products and even vacations in Canada and the volcanic island of Ischia.
Nominees were also awarded a 1 square meter piece of land in the Western Downs region of Queensland by environmental company Pieces of Australia.
Pieces of Australia sells these small plots of land (the largest, 10 square meters, costs $200) and plants two trees for every square meter purchased.
Because the land is privately owned, it is protected from human exploitation and development and ‘allows a safe haven for flora and fauna to continue to thrive without disturbance’.
But the ‘conservation gift packs’ in the goody bags included manuals that had photos and information allegedly taken without permission.
Pieces of Australia is the company that gave Oscar nominees a small plot of land in the Queensland outback as part of their lavish goodie bags. They have been accused of using photos and information from an indigenous group without their consent (pictured is Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party)
A now-removed subheading in the manual was titled ‘an indigenous Aboriginal perspective’.
“When most non-indigenous people look at land, they often see something they can exploit, an asset they can develop and use for profit,” says a section of the manual that has since been amended. The Guardian informed.
‘An Aboriginal person, on the other hand, sees the land as something else. They see something living, breathing, and deeply connected to their past, present, and future.
‘Organizations such as the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network (ICIN), which acts as an industry body, provide valuable resources to local indigenous organizations.’
Photos of Aboriginal people dealing with fire management were also included.
Actors and directors nominated for an Academy Award took home a lavish gift bag with an estimated value of $150,000 and curated by Distinctive Assets (founder Lash Fary shown)
ICIN executive director Anna Boustead says the organization was not contacted before its information was included.
“ICIN has not granted permission for any of our information, posts or photos to be reproduced in support of the Oscars ‘Goody Bag’ or ‘Pieces of Australia’,” it said in a statement.
In particular, you have not granted permission to any third party to reproduce any photos on our website or posts depicting Aboriginal people dealing with fire management in support of the Oscars ‘Goodie Bag’ or ‘Pieces of Australia’ in any way manner.
‘ICIN does not agree with its brand or the hard work of our members being linked to the ‘Parts from Australia’ scheme. We take our own commitments to traditional owner rights and free, prior and informed consent very seriously.’
ICIN is an indigenous-owned charity owned by 23 indigenous organizations across Australia and has sought legal action over the use of its material.
“As you can imagine, this incident has put a lot of pressure on our small organization (with just 4 staff working in Australia) and other affected individuals and parties,” said Ms Boustead.
The CEO of the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network, Anna Boustead, criticized Pieces of Australia for using her material and photos without permission. She said the organization had no connection to the Oscars or her gift bag.
“It highlights the need for any third party to conduct thorough due diligence regarding any claim of connection to an indigenous organization.”
Niels Chaneliere, the founder of Pieces of Australia, told the publication that any content that has been “misused” in relation to ICIN has now been removed.
A spokesperson for Pieces of Australia told Daily Mail Australia that they had been in contact with ICIN’s legal representatives.
“Our goal is to promote awareness of the Australian environment through our gift packs and we want to be inclusive of everyone in doing so, including the land’s rich history,” they said.
“We realize there have been some missteps in the process of doing this and as a new company we are actively making amends where necessary to improve this and apologize to communities who feel this was done inappropriately. or insensitive”.
The group said its product was to “provide land license agreements” for people around the world to participate in conservation efforts with Australia.
“At no time was there any intention to appear culturally insensitive or disingenuous in our communications towards First Nations people, or to ‘give away’ land to people abroad as has been mentioned in the press,” the spokesperson said.
Pieces of Australia was one of many brands that shelled out $4,000 to have their products included in the goodie bags.
The company acknowledges Aboriginal people as traditional custodians and land owners on its website.
The Oscars gift bag was curated by Distinctive Assets, and founder Lash Fary said he was unaware of whether indigenous groups had been contacted about Pieces of Australia’s contribution.