The company that gave Oscar nominees a small plot of land in outback Queensland as part of their luxurious goodie bags at the Academy Awards have 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 worth an estimated $150,000 – featuring plastic surgery vouchers, beauty products and even holidays to Canada and the volcanic island of Ischia.
Nominees were also gifted a 1 square metre plot of land in Queensland’s Western Downs region by environmental company Pieces of Australia.
Pieces of Australia sells these small plots of land – the biggest at 10sqm costs $200 – and plants two trees for every square metre bought.
Because the land is privately owned, it is protected from exploitation and human development and ‘enables a safe haven for flora and fauna to continue thriving undisturbed’.
But the ‘Conservation Gift Packs’ in the goodie bags included handbooks 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 outback Queensland as part of their luxurious 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 deleted subheading in the handbook was titled ‘a perspective from the Indigenous Aboriginals’.
‘When most non-Indigenous people look at the land, they often see something they can exploit, an asset they can develop and use to create a profit,’ a section of the handbook which has since been amended said, The Guardian reported.
‘An Aboriginal person, on the other hand, looks at land as something more. They see a living, breathing thing that is deeply connected to their past, present, and future.
‘Organizations like the Indigenous Carbon Industry Network (ICIN), who acts as an industry body, provides valuable resources to Indigenous local organizations.’
Photos of Aboriginal people undertaking fire management were also included.
Actors and directors nominated for an Academy Award took home a lavish gift bag worth an estimated $150,000 and curated by Distinctive Assets (Founder Lash Fary is pictured)
The CEO of the ICIN, Anna Boustead claims the organisation was not contacted before their information was included.
‘ICIN has not granted permission for any of our information, publications or photos to be reproduced to support the Oscars ‘Goodie Bag’ or ‘Pieces of Australia’,’ she said in a statement.
‘In particular it has not granted permission for any photos on our website or publications featuring Aboriginal people undertaking fire management to be reproduced by a third party to support the Oscars ‘Goodie Bag’ or ‘Pieces of Australia’ in any way.
‘ICIN does not agree with its brand or the hard work of our members being linked to the ‘Pieces of Australia’ scheme. We take our own commitments to the rights of Traditional Owners and Free, Prior and Informed Consent very seriously.’
The ICIN is an Indigenous-owned charitable company owned by 23 Indigenous organisations across Australia and have sought legal action over their material being used.
‘As you can imagine, this incident has placed a great deal of pressure upon our small organisation (with just 4 staff working across Australia) and other persons and parties affected,’ Ms Boustead said.
Indigenous Carbon Industry Network CEO Anna Boustead called out Pieces of Australia for using their material and photos without permission. She said the organisation had no connection to the Oscars or its gift bag
‘It highlights the need for any third party to conduct thorough due diligence regarding any claims of connection to an Indigenous organisation.’
Niels Chaneliere, the founder of Pieces of Australia, told the publication any content that was ‘inappropriately used’ in relation to the ICIN has now been removed.
A spokesperson for Pieces of Australia told Daily Mail Australia they had been in contact with the ICIN’s legal representatives.
‘Our objective is to promote awareness in relation to the Australian environment through our gift packs and we want to be inclusive of everyone in doing so, including the rich history of the land,’ they said.
‘We realise that there are some missteps that have been made in the process of doing so and as a new company we are actively making amends where necessary to improve this and apologise to any communities who feel that this was done inadequately/insensitively.’
The group said their product was to ‘provide land licence agreements’ for people around the world to participate in conservation efforts with Australia.
‘At no point was there any intention to come across as culturally insensitive or disingenuous in our communications towards First Nations people, or to ‘give’ away land to people overseas as it has been mentioned in the press,’ the spokesperson said.
Pieces of Australia was one of many brands that forked out $4,000 for their products to be included in the goodie bags.
The company acknowledges the Aboriginal People as the Traditional Custodians and Owners of the land on its website.
The Oscars gift bag was curated by Distinctive Assets, with founder Lash Fary saying he had no knowledge of whether Indigenous groups had been contacted about Pieces of Australia’s contribution.