A Fair Trade for Creative Labour – forum

The following forum is an opportunity to bring together critical perspectives on cultural partnerships with the real-life demands of those working in the field. It will provide the context for the development of a Code of Practice for Craft-Design Collaborations

Title: A Fair Trade for Creative Labour: How to sustain trust in north-south collaborations
Date: Monday 19 October 1-2pm
Location: Design Research Institute, RMIT University Level 3, 110 Victoria St, Melbourne


  • Dr Linda Chalmers, Product Manager, Oxfam Australia
  • Professor Donald Feaver, Associate Professor of Law, RMIT University
  • Professor Mark Minchinton, Professor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, RMIT University
  • Associate Professor Tim Scrase, Director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies , University of Wollongong

Globalisation threatens cultural diversity through the loss of local markets and commodification. In response to this, there is increasing interest by consumers to support local producers through their purchases. Fair Trade has emerged as one attempt to guarantee producer benefits.

But there are problems. Fair Trade sometimes appears as a reasonably blunt instrument that does not reflect the complex relations between rich and poor worlds, such as when a designer seeks to develop a product with rural artisans. Are there ways of strengthening such forms of accreditation to reflect the complex negotiations about issues such as cultural authenticity that arise in product development?

Meanwhile, we are seeing the emergence of various ‘soft laws’ to regulate global industries and maintain consumer trust. What instrument might assist in collaborations between designers and artisans? How might this inform the concerns of consumers in their desire to do good by purchasing these products? Is there a place for this in projects that involve Australian Indigenous craft and design?

This panel discussion provides an opportunity to consider the role of a code in cultural industries involving relations between peoples on either side of the global divide. The participants offer alternative and important perspectives on this process.

Organised by Dr Kevin Murray, Adjunct Professor in the School of Art at RMIT University. Please RSVP Monday 12 October to Emma Barrow for catering purposes. emma.barrow@rmit.edu.au

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