The Australian government supports the repatriation of ancestral remains and secret sacred objects to their communities of origin to help promote healing and reconciliation.
The Department of Communications and the Arts helps facilitate the unconditional return of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains from overseas collections and the safe return of Indigenous ancestral remains and secret sacred objects held in major Australian museums to their communities of origin, contributing to healing and reconciliation.
For more than 150 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects were removed from their communities for various reasons and placed in museums, universities and private collections in Australia and overseas. During the 19th and 20th centuries medical officers, anatomists, ethnologists, anthropologists, and pastoralists collected ancestral remains for ‘scientific’ research linked to explaining human biological differences.
The Department works with all stakeholders, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, other Australian Government agencies, Australian museums, state, territory and local governments, collecting institutions and overseas governments and institutions.