Make It Real


Make It Real Our Projects


Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Product Development Project


What is Make It Real?

Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and products are sold in Australia every year.

Unfortunately, while many of these products (boomerangs, didgeridoos, t-shirts and keyrings etc.) might look real, up to 75% are fake and not connected to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people or culture at all, or made without permission.

This industry of unethical art and craft not only harms culture, but also robs Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists of important sources of income.

Make It Real is an AACHWA lead, Western Australian based project that is tackling this problem head on.

The project is helping to stamp out unethical practices by supporting Aboriginal art centres in WA to test new ways of making more products that share authentic art and culture.

Make It Real is not just about creating new products, but also about getting these products onto the shelves of some of Australia’s biggest, best-known shops and encouraging customers to buy them.

Because making new products is complicated and can be overwhelming, the Make It Real team is creating ‘toolkits’ to guide art centres through the process.

These kits will include information on how to make sure artists are paid and treated fairly, and how to find trustworthy people and businesses (manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers etc.) to work with.

These resources will show art centres how to make money from things other than the sale of paintings. This is important because making money from different sources helps art centres become strong businesses that support strong communities.


What is the purpose of Make It Real?

Make It Real is about supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and craft industry to share culture and grow into even stronger and more sustainable organisations.

The project is doing this by working with art centres to create cultural products that provide another source of income for artists (who might normally rely solely on the sale of paintings).

Supporting art centres in their creative and business practices, the project is also working to break down some of the barriers that prevent art centres from participating in the product market.

Some of the reasons art centres might not feel confident in making products include fear of losing control of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property; lack of resources (staff, time and know how); and limited access to safe and tested suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

Make It Real is also a platform to raise awareness about the fake Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander product market and equip customers and retailers with strategies so they can make confident, ethical choices about what they buy and sell.

The project has been developed to:

  • support art centres to test new ways of making products
  • get products into some of Australia’s biggest shops
  • encourage people to make ethical choices about the products they buy
  • empower art centres and artists to take control of the products that are being sold
  • ensure artists are treated and paid fairly
  • create new sources of income for art centres and artists that isn’t from the sale of paintings

Make It Real is a practical and direct response to a Federal parliamentary inquiry which found 80 per cent of souvenirs and merchandise sold to tourists as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander product are fake or imitation.


Project Update April 2023

We are concurrently in Stages 3 and 4 of Make it Real, which sees a consolidation of the last four years of research into toolkits for art centres , and an exciting move into planning the prototyping phase of several products for the pilot 6 art centres. These prototypes celebrate the artists and artworks from the following art centres, who we would like to thank for their ongoing involvement in this pilot project.

AACHWA looks forward to sharing more about Make it Real very soon.

For more information contact AACHWA Projects Coordinator Grace Connors or (08) 9200 6248.

Make it Real is proudly supported by Lotterywest, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Pilbara Development Commission, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, Australia Council for the Arts, BHP, KPMG, Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, and special thanks to our pilot art centres and specialist consultants.