Culturally significant material to be repatriated from the UK

Release Date: 
4 October 2019
Media release

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, has today announced that 43 culturally significant objects are to be repatriated from the United Kingdom as part the ground-breaking Return of Cultural Heritage Project being led by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

AIATSIS has been working in close partnership with the Aranda people of Central Australia, the Gangalidda Garawa people of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Nyamal people of the Pilbara and Yawuru people of Broome to negotiate the unconditional repatriation of 43 items from the Manchester Museum, University of Manchester.

“The return of these culturally significant objects signifies an important moment of healing for these communities,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Importantly, it demonstrates the Morrison Government’s commitment to work with cultural authority from throughout Australia to preserve our unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and provides all Australians with the opportunity to learn about the significance of these objects through truth-telling and to gain a greater understanding of our nation’s shared history.”

“The return marks the first repatriation from the United Kingdom for the Return of Cultural Heritage Project being led by the Institute,” AIATSIS Council Chairperson Jodie Sizer said.

“It follows closely on from the recent announcement of 42 objects to be returned from the United States of America, and we are extremely pleased with the early results produced by the project and the momentum it is building to see more of our items come home.”

“The repatriation of our sacred cultural heritage items is a fundamental part of the healing and reconciliation process, both within our communities and between our mob and the Government,” Mangubadijarri Yanner, Representative for the Gangalidda Garawa Native Title Aboriginal Corporation said.

“Bringing these sacred cultural heritage items back to Country is important and necessary for the purpose of cultural revitalisation – because locked deep within these items is our lore; our histories, our traditions and our stories.”

“Returning the material will restore culture and strengthen community”, said Mark Inkamala, Senior Aranda Man.

“Young people need to learn about culture and bring back the material will help us do this. The return of the material will let us reconnect it to Country. It will also help us preserve our culture and pass knowledge onto the young people”.

Yawuru Law Bosses welcomed the decision, stating “the material returning to Yawuru are secret sacred objects of the highest significance and the Yawuru people are very glad that they are coming home”.

Community representatives will travel to the United Kingdom as early as next month to collect their material.