The Australian Government has supported international repatriation for over 30 years. This has seen the return of over 1,600 ancestors from across nine countries back to Australia. The Australian Government maintains its commitment to securing the return of ancestors held overseas so they can be returned to their traditional custodians or held in safe care in Australia until their traditional custodians can be identified.

We are currently progressing returns from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and New Zealand. We have a joint arrangement with France and are working closely with other countries to advocate for the return of ancestors. When the traditional custodians are known, we work closely with them as they advise the return of their ancestors, cultural protocols and any access and controls to associated material. The traditional custodians make all decisions regarding the final resting of their ancestors. 

As of 17 November 2022, 1668 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains (ancestors) were repatriated from overseas over the past 30 years. USA 125, Canada 1, UK 1283, Germany 157, Austria 47, Sweden 41, Czech Republich 8, Netherlands 5, etc.

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More information

  • The Australian Government has supported the return of over 1600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains (ancestors) from overseas institutions and private holders for over 30 years.
  • The Indigenous Repatriation Program—Museum Grants (the Program) facilitates the return of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors and secret sacred objects held in eight major Australian museums to their communities of origin.