First Nations ancestors coming home from Vienna

The Australian Government has today welcomed the return of six First Nations ancestors from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna in a special ceremony.

Three ancestors will be returned to the custodianship of their respective communities: one to Dharawal Nation (Port Hacking, Cronulla), one to Ngiyampaa Nation (Nymagee, Cobar) and one to Wotjobaluk Nation (Wimmera River, Victoria).

One ancestor from Yuin Nation (Wagonga) will be returned under Australian Government stewardship at the request of the community; while two ancestors will be returned to South Australia and New South Wales so they can be cared for closer to home.

This is the second repatriation from the Austrian Academy of Sciences following the return of 30 ancestors in 2011.

Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, said the success of repatriation is built on fostering enduring relationships and continued collaboration.

“Bringing ancestors home is essential government work. 

“This shows what we can achieve when working with partners towards the return of First Nations ancestors from across the world.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said we must never forget the awful practices of the past of removing remains and taking them so far away from Country and community.

“The return of ancestors is so important for communities and will promote healing and reconciliation.

“I acknowledge each of the communities involved in this process and the work they have undertaken,” Minister Burney said.

The past 30 years has seen the return of 1,686 ancestors from overseas and while this is a significant effort there is still much to do.

The Government maintains its commitment to advocate for the voluntary and unconditional repatriation of ancestors held by overseas collecting institutions and private holders to facilitate their return to Australia.

More information about the Australian Government’s Indigenous Repatriation Program can be found here.