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Other repatriation resources and programs

Australian Government repatriation projects are also run by the Office for the Arts (OFTA):

Australian Government Indigenous Repatriation Program

The Indigenous Repatriation Program facilitates 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.

The program encourages a holistic approach to repatriation where overseas governments, institutions and private holders work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to return ancestral remains.

Funded museums include: 

Indigenous Repatriation Museum Grants Program

The Indigenous Repatriation Museum Grants Program supports the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and secret sacred objects held in eight major Australian museums to their communities of origin.

Museums funded under the Program work in partnership with identified communities to return their ancestors and secret sacred objects. The Australian Government recognises the importance and cultural significance of Indigenous communities being directly involved in the process of repatriation.

Other repatriation projects and programs

Return, Reconcile, Renew (Restoring Dignity Project)

Over the last two centuries, thousands of Indigenous ancestral remains have been taken from country and sent to cultural and scientific institutions worldwide. The Return, Reconcile, Renew project illuminates the subsequent repatriation of Australian Indigenous ancestral remains over the past 40 years.

The Return, Reconcile, Renew project has provided critical new knowledge to understand repatriation, its history and effects and provided scholarly and public outcomes that empower community-based research and practice. 

The Return, Reconcile, Renew project has created a digital archive containing information and resources relating to the history and effects of the removal and repatriation of Ancestral Remains. RRR is a dynamic archive that is constantly growing and changing. 

Collecting the West: How collections create Western Australia (active)

The Collecting the West project looks to examine what had been collected from Western Australia. What do these collections tell us about who we were, who we are and who we can be?

The project is currently working with the state's leading collecting institutions:

Routes to Return

Routes to Return aims to open up global networks, share information, and enable international repatriation from European museums to Indigenous Nations and Communities around the world. The Undertanding the European Museum Landscape resource tracks the repatriation progress of European countries and institutions to provide a helpful lens for Indigenous Nations and Communities to gage which countries are open to repatriation, where to search collections, and how to make claims.

The resource aims to give an overview of the European repatriation laws, policies, guidelines, and potential approaches that can be useful to know before beginning repatriation efforts in Europe. It offers a summary of some of the common themes in approaches to repatriation across Europe, as well as country-by-country breakdowns of the national laws, policies, guidelines, and approaches to the return of ancestors and belongings.

Encounters Fellowship

Encounters Fellowships offered six people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain professional development in a hands-on program that includes a placement at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and experience at partner cultural institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Successful applicants worked alongside museum, gallery and cultural sector specialists, gaining behind-the-scenes experience in areas including collections research and preservation, exhibition planning, digital storytelling, educational programming, Indigenous design thinking, and project management.

Selected past projects

Returning Photos: Australian Aboriginal Photographs from European Collection

The Returning Photos project presents information about historical photographs of Australian Aboriginal people held in four European Museums: 

The project website allows users to search for photographs on a number of different criteria, such as place, cultural group, name of individual or photographer, or date. It aims to make this important heritage resources available to researchers, especially Aboriginal communities seeking to access their heritage.

The project welcomes information about these images, which will be added to this resources as well as advice about images and information that should be restricted or removed.

The German Ethnographic Expeditions to the Kimberley, Northwest Australia

A collaborative assessment of research history, the interpretation of Australian Aboriginal heritage and digital repatriation.

Australian Joint Copying Project – The Haddon Papers

The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) is a collection of unique historical material relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific dating from 1560 to 1984. 

Records filmed by the AJCP include a diverse range of material from UK Government Departments such as the Admiralty, Home Office, Colonial Office, the Dominions Office held by The National Archives of the UK and County Record Offices as well as personal archives and manuscripts of leading politicians, explorers, scientists, religious and missionary societies, convicts and businesses held by private organisations or individuals.

The project to digitise the content of the AJCP microfilm was completed by the 30th June 2020.

Last updated: 14 February 2024