• The Federal Court found Birubi misled customers into thinking its Indonesia-made products were handcrafted by Indigenous Australians. (ACCC)Source: ACCC
The consumer watchdog took action against the company, alleging that its conduct impacted Indigenous artists and their products.
NITV Staff Writer

24 Oct 2018 - 5:29 PM  UPDATED 24 Oct 2018 - 5:32 PM

A court has found this week that a souvenir wholesaler broke federal law by selling thousands of boomerangs and didgeridoos which were mass-produced in Indonesia while giving customers the impression they were handmade in Australia by Aboriginal people.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took action in March against Birubi Art Pty Ltd, a “souvenirs and Aboriginal art” company based in Queensland, claiming it sold 18,000 such products between 2014 and 2017.

Court documents identified five types of problematic items: loose boomerangs, boxed boomerangs, bamboo didgeridoos, message stones and bullroarers.

Despite being made overseas, the products carried labels including “Aboriginal Art”, “genuine” and “Australia”.

At a hearing in Sydney on Tuesday, the Federal Court of Australia concluded that Birubi Art misled consumers through deceptive labelling.

“The artwork, images and statements used by Birubi suggested a relationship between Australian Aboriginal people and the production of the products which did not exist,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.

Read more
ACCC challenges Birubi Art over 'fake' didgeridoos
Could a new court case curb the booming trade in 'fake' souvenirs?

The ACCC said the wholesaler’s conduct was “unacceptable” and undermined the value of genuine Indigenous art.

“The ACCC will not hesitate to take further action against traders who mislead consumers about the nature of their products, in order to ensure confidence in the Indigenous Australian art industry.”

Penalties will be set at a later hearing.

Read more
'Cultural genocide': Flood of fake art threatens Indigenous artists and communities
It's a multi-million dollar industry built on Indigenous culture — but who is benefitting? The Point and consumer watchdog CHOICE investigate the fake art trade and meet some of the artists fighting to protect their culture.