Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors returned home from the United Kingdom

As part of the Australian Government’s commitment to international repatriation, the remains of 18 First Nations ancestors from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum in the United Kingdom will return home to Australia.

The ancestors were returned at a handover ceremony in Oxford. One Old Person has been returned to the custodianship of the South East First Nations people of South Australia, while the Australian Government has taken stewardship of 17 ancestors so they can be cared for closer to home.

Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, said this latest international repatriation demonstrates the Government’s commitment to upholding the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“To date more than 1,660 ancestors have been repatriated from overseas. While this is a significant effort there is still so much to do.

“Repatriation of First Nations ancestors is an important part of Australia’s ongoing journey of healing and reconciliation,” Minister Burke said.

“Thank you to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum, as well as the UK Government, for their commitment to this crucial return.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said repatriation honours the deep cultural and emotional significance of returning ancestors to their traditional lands.

“The return of ancestors brings dignity and respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through allowing customary obligations and traditional practices to continue,” Minister Burney said.

“The repatriations will allow communities to carry out their cultural obligations in returning their ancestors to Country.

“Our Government continues to assist First Nations communities by advocating for the unconditional return of ancestors and cultural heritage material held in overseas collections – this is some of the most important work we can undertake as part of the reconciliation and truth telling process.”

For more information on Indigenous Repatriation, visit: https://www.arts.gov.au/what-we-do/cultural-heritage/indigenous-repatriation