The Australian Government has long-standing ties with several major French cultural institutions.
The Australian Embassy in France was actively engaged in the lead up to the opening of the musee du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, where Australian Aboriginal art was chosen as a central design element. Since its inauguration in 2006, we have continued to work with its teams. From April to July 2023, the museum will present Songlines, the National Museum of Australia's flagship exhibition featuring the work of several Australian First Nations artists.
We also have a well established relationship with institutions that regularly present contemporary Australian artists, such as the Palais de Tokyo and the Théâtre Chaillot.
Australia now 2021-22
From June 2021 to June 2022, France hosted the Australian Government's flagship public diplomacy program Australia now. This programme of events celebrates Australian diversity, creativity and innovation in a different country each year.
Over the course of the year-long program, multiple cultural events took place in Paris and all around France – exhibitions, film screenings, theatrical and dance performances, etc.
New France-Australia roadmap
During a bilateral meeting on 1 July 2022, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and President Emmanuel Macron announced their willingness to develop an ambitious France-Australia roadmap, based on three overarching pillars, one of which being culture and education.
This is a testament to the strength of our cultural ties and the value both countries place on cultural heritage and expression.
The roadmap is currently under development.
Australian First Nations culture
The Australian Embassy plays an active role in raising awareness on First Nations cultures in France.
We regularly showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists' work in our exhibition space. From April 2023, the Embassy will host a major exhibition of paintings by the APY Art Centre Collective in South Australia.
The Embassy strongly encourages Australian Indigenous art dealers in France to sign the Indigenous Art Code, a code of conduct to ensure that works are fairly, ethically and transparently sourced.
Repatriation of Ancestral Human Remains
Strengthening relations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is central to the reconciliation process and in the interest of all Australians. Reconciliation is a priority for the Australian Government.
The repatriation of these Ancestral Human Remains is part of this reconciliation process. The Australian Repatriation Program considers the return of these Ancestral Human Remains to be fundamental in the promotion of respect and understanding for Indigenous cultures and in the reinforcement of culture and familial ties.
On 1 July 2022, France’s and Australia’s heads of state outlined in a Joint Declaration their commitment to "continue to work together to identify solutions to enable the return of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ancestral Human Remains held in French institutions".
Australia, which formally raised the issue of repatriation with France in 2006, is determined to make concrete progress in the coming months to enable the return of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ancestral Human Remains. This would be a symbolic gesture of our long-standing historical and cultural ties and would be of immense cultural signficance for Australia's First Nations peoples.
The Australian and French governments have a long history of cooperation in sport. This association is currently being strengthened in preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France and the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.