The Indigenous Repatriation Museum Grants Program returns Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects held in major Australian museums to the communities of origin.

The Indigenous Repatriation Museum Grants Program (the Program) supports the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects held in eight major Australian museums to their communities of origin. Museums funded under the Program work in partnership with identified communities to return their ancestors and secret sacred objects. The Australian Government recognises the importance and cultural significance of Indigenous communities being directly involved in the process of repatriation.

To date over 2,500 ancestral remains and over 2,200 secret sacred objects have been returned to the custodianship of their community of origin.

Objectives for the Program are to:

  • Identify the origin of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects held in the collections of the eight funded museums.
  • Empower Indigenous communities to be involved in the repatriation of their ancestral remains and secret sacred objects.
  • Repatriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects to their community of origin.
  • Facilitate discussion with custodians for culturally appropriate storage and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects.
  • Support the engagement and/or employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to provide assistance, support and cultural advice to progress the repatriation of ancestral remains and secret sacred objects to communities of origin.

Museum Grant Highlights

Museums Repatriation Officers Meeting

In May 2018, the Department of Communications and the Arts hosted a national meeting of museum repatriation officers in Canberra. The meeting provided an opportunity for repatriation officers from the eight museums funded under the Program to workshop repatriation issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Over the two days, participants presented on a range of repatriation topics including policy development, community consultation, secret sacred objects, use of digital technology and collaborative projects. The key outcomes of the meeting was information sharing, strengthening collaborative partnerships and fostering best practice to better support Indigenous communities.

2018 Funded Museums:

For more information, email repatriation [at] arts.gov.au