Sunday 13 September marks the 13th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
11 September 2020

For this special day, we are highlighting our Indigenous Repatriation Program. This successful program supports the return of Indigenous Australian ancestral remains (ancestors) from overseas, and ancestors and secret sacred objects held in eight major Australian museums, to their communities of origin.

The Program is underpinned by Article 12 of the Declaration, which supports the right of Indigenous peoples to practice and revitalise their customs, to use and control their ceremonial objects and to repatriate their ancestors’ remains.

The repatriation of ancestors and secret sacred objects to their traditional custodians contributes to reconciliation and healing.

Since 1990, the Australian Government has supported the return of over 1,600 Indigenous Australian ancestors from nine countries. Domestically, more than 2,700 ancestors and 2,240 secret sacred objects from the eight museums have been returned to the custodianship of their communities.

In 2020, we secured agreement to return ancestors from two institutions in the United Kingdom and three institutions in Germany, including the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The Foundation recently agreed to repatriate three Indigenous Australian ancestors who were removed from Queensland in the 1880s.

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