Department of Communications and the Arts (Australia)

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Department of Communications and the Arts
Department of Communications and the Arts (Australia) logo.png
Department overview
Formed21 September 2015 (2015-09-21)
Preceding Department
Dissolved31 January 2020 (2020-01-31)
Superseding agency
JurisdictionCommonwealth of Australia
Minister responsible
Department executive
Child agencies

The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts was a department of the Government of Australia charged with responsibility for communications policy and programs and cultural affairs.

In December 2019, prime minister Scott Morrison announced that the department would be merged into a new "mega department", the new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. In response to criticism from the arts sector, Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications and the Arts said that the merger was merely administrative and would not result in budget cuts.[1]


The department was created in September 2015 following Malcolm Turnbull becoming prime minister, replacing the Department of Communications, and transferring responsibility for the arts from the Attorney-General's Department.[2]

Preceding departments[edit]

Operational functions[edit]

The Administrative Arrangements Order made on 21 September 2015 detailed the following responsibilities to the department:[3]

  • Broadband policy and programs
  • Postal and telecommunications policies and programs
  • Spectrum policy management
  • Broadcasting policy
  • National policy issues relating to the digital economy
  • Content policy relating to the information economy
  • Classification
  • Copyright
  • Cultural affairs, including movable cultural heritage and support for the arts
    • As part of this function, the department administers a programme relating to the return of Aboriginal Australian human remains and cultural objects, the International Repatriation Program (IRP). This programme "supports the repatriation of ancestral remains and secret sacred objects to their communities of origin to help promote healing and reconciliation" and assists community representatives work towards repatriation of remains in various ways.[4][5][note 1]

Language revival project[edit]

As of 2020, the department is funding the Priority Languages Support Project, being undertaken by First Languages Australia. The project aims to "identify and document critically-endangered languages – those languages for which little or no documentation exists, where no recordings have previously been made, but where there are living speakers". It has so far prioritised 20 languages[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ There was previously a domestic Return of Indigenous Cultural Property (RICP) program run by the former Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA – 207-2010), which supported the return of both human remains and secret sacred objects from institutions within Australia, but it looks as if the functionality has been incorporated in IRP.


  1. ^ Baker, Nick (11 December 2019). "Government defends axing arts department as a 'good opportunity' for artists". SBS News. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  2. ^ Minute Paper for the Executive Council, Executive Council Meeting No. 21 (PDF), Federal Executive Council, 21 September 2015, archived from the original (PDF) on 30 September 2015, retrieved 4 October 2015
  3. ^ "Administrative Arrangements Order". Commonwealth of Australia. 21 September 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Indigenous repatriation". Australian Government. Department of Communications and the Arts. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Aboriginal remains repatriation". Creative Spirits. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Priority Languages Support Project". First Languages Australia. Retrieved 13 January 2020.