37 ancestral remains returned to Australia

The Australian Government welcomed the return of 37 South Australian ancestral remains from the Natural History Museum in London at a handover ceremony yesterday.

The ceremony was hosted by Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum on Tuesday 26 March at 10:30am (GMT) and attended by the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, the Hon George Brandis QC, and Department of Communications and the Arts staff.

Two Narungga community representatives from South Australia, Mr Douglas Milera and Professor Peter Buckskin, also travelled to the UK to attend the ceremony. They received the remains of an ancestor who will be temporarily cared for at the South Australian Museum on return to Australia, until the community is ready to conduct a reburial ceremony. The South Australian Museum will also temporarily care for another seven returned ancestral remains.

The remaining 29 ancestral remains will transfer to the temporary care of the National Museum of Australia until community consultation processes are finalised and the Ngarrindjeri, Far West Coast, Kaurna and Flinders Ranges communities are ready to return the old people to Country.

Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield said the Government is committed to assisting Indigenous communities to pursue the unconditional return of ancestral remains held in overseas collections.

“This return is a significant event for our country. The important work of the Indigenous Repatriation Program has facilitated the return of more than 1480 ancestral remains, including more than 1200 Australian ancestral remains from the United Kingdom,” Minister Fifield said.

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.

For more information visit: www.arts.gov.au/repatriation

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