About the film - Returning Our Ancestors

About the documentary film Returning Our Ancestors including development, participants and the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council.

Our spirit cannot rest when our Old People’s remains are not in place. By repatriating their remains to rest, we reset time and space to allow spirit to continue its journey. Without resting, their spirit is unable to be free. It is captured in darkness and cannot continue to its dreaming. There is a cycle for everyone and everything, including the human spirit, and when the cycle is incomplete or interfered with there are consequences. For Aboriginal people there is a deep spiritual connection to the universe through our religious beliefs. All is connected. Nothing stands alone and nothing can succeed alone.

'We will not be well until this is done'

In 2014 the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council talked to the community about the importance of returning Ancestors to Country and their protection on Country.

Aunty Eleanor A Bourke articulated that Council’s work in this area was based on the fundamental understanding that the wellbeing of Aboriginal People was intrinsically linked to the return of their Old People.

Now, as then, the capacity for communities to grieve and heal through repatriation of Ancestors is essential to Aboriginal Peoples’ wellbeing and Cultural strength.

Due to the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions at the start of 2020, Council cancelled the documentary's Premiere and Community Launch. The film was briefly available through Council’s website but was taken down from public view whilst community members were isolated and the broader support networks that the community need to consider the film were limited.

Now, in 2021, Council will launch this landmark, 28 minute documentary film.

'Our People were dug up… we want them back'

The documentary is a call to action to support Traditional Owners in the repatriation of their Ancestors. In the film, Uncle Jim Berg asks the broad Victorian community to help Aboriginal People in this process.

You may know somebody who has bones, skeletons, under the bed or in the sheds. We need them so we can find peace and we can have closure.

This documentary film explores the responsibilities of Victorian Traditional Owners to their Country, Culture and Ancestors. It looks at the reasons why Ancestors were stolen from Country, the need for them to be returned and the ways in which they can be protected on Country.

For Council, Traditional Owners and all Victorians, Returning our Ancestors is a landmark film in promoting awareness, engendering respect and calling for action to return and protect Ancestors.

Who participated in filming?

The Council is profoundly appreciative of all who supported the development of the film, particularly those people who were interviewed.

Learn about the interviewees