The Australian Archaeological Association is committed to the highest standards of conduct in archaeological practice. The Code of Ethics identifies a common set of values informing the ethical principles upon which members of the Association base their conduct. Ethical responsibilities often exceed legal obligations and are based upon values, principles and conforming practice, as well as adherence to social policy regarding the moral and ethical principles of archaeological conduct.  The Code of Ethics outlines the manner and method by which members should fulfil their ethical responsibilities to the interest groups with whom they work. In doing so, it does not seek to limit legitimate freedoms but to emphasise that the discharge of obligations detailed herein is crucial to proper conduct. Adherence to the Code of Ethics is necessary for the well-being of all groups with whom members engage and vital to the integrity of the archaeological profession. In accepting these ethical principles, members shall endeavour to follow them consistently. Where members transgress the Code of Ethics, they may be subject to disciplinary procedures as defined by Section 32 of the Constitution.


1.1 Members will serve the interests of the Association by adhering to its objects and purposes as defined by this Code of Ethics and the Constitution, specifically:

– to promote the advancement of archaeology;
– to provide an organisation for the discussion and dissemination of archaeological information and ideas in archaeology;
– to convene meetings at regular intervals;
– to publicise the need for the study and conservation of archaeological sites and collections; and
– to publicise the work of the Association.

1.2 Members will negotiate and make every reasonable effort to obtain the informed consent of representatives of the communities of concern whose cultural heritage is the subject of investigation. Members cannot assume that there is no community of concern.

1.3 Members recognise that there are many interests in cultural heritage, but they specifically acknowledge the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples. AAA endorses and directs members to the current guidelines for ethical research with Indigenous parties published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (

1.4 Members whose actions are detrimental to the interests of the Association may be subject to disciplinary procedures as defined by the Constitution.


2.1 Consonant with their obligations arising from government and international agreements, legislation and regulations, members will advocate the conservation, curation and preservation of archaeological sites, assemblages, collections and archival records.

2.2 Members will endeavour to ensure that archaeological sites and materials which they investigate are managed in a manner which conserves the archaeological and cultural heritage values of the sites and materials.

2.3 Members will neither engage in nor support the illicit trade in cultural heritage.

2.4 Members recognise the importance of repatriation of archaeological materials for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities of concern and they support and advocate the necessity to properly manage archaeological materials in accordance with agreements with communities of concern.


3.1 Members acknowledge the importance of cultural heritage to Indigenous communities.

3.2 Members acknowledge the special importance to Indigenous peoples of ancestral remains and objects and sites associated with such remains. Members will treat such remains with respect.

3.3 Members acknowledge Indigenous approaches to the interpretation of cultural heritage and to its conservation.

3.4 Members will negotiate equitable agreements between archaeologists and the Indigenous communities whose cultural heritage is being investigated. AAA endorses and directs members to the current guidelines regarding such agreements published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.


4.1 Members will treat each other in a professional manner.

4.2 Members will disseminate the results of their work as widely as possible using plain language where appropriate.

4.3 Any person can notify the Executive Committee of a member’s conduct which they believe to be detrimental to the interests of the Association. Complaints may activate procedures outlined in Section 32 (Expulsion of Members) of the Constitution, including rights of appeal.

4.4 Personal information provided to the Association by members will be kept confidential.