Repatriation of Ancestral Remains

Repatriation of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains is guided by a commitment to return the Ancestors to rest on Country by all involved.

Identifying where the Ancestral Remains came from

So that Council can respond quickly to reports of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains, they have established Ancestral Remains Advisory Committees (ARACs). An ARAC decides whether the Aboriginal Ancestral Remains need to be transferred to Council. If they are transferred, they are then:

  • transferred to the relevant Traditional Owner
  • transferred to Museums Victoria
  • an appropriate course of action is determined by the ARAC (this may be to undertake further research to identify who the right Traditional Owners are)

Working with Traditional Owners to return the Ancestors to Country

Council makes decisions about which Traditional Owners to return the Ancestral Remains to. Council’s Ancestral Remains Unit works with these Traditional Owners to return the Ancestors to Country. Together they ensure the Traditional Owners' needs are met and helps with the ongoing management of these burial places.

The Victorian state government has provided Council with a one-off grant for the current financial year to assist communities in the repatriation of their Ancestors. We are hopeful of continued funding.

Each repatriation is unique as the needs of the different Traditional Owners. Working through grief, anger and cultural sensitivities as well as the logistics of burial and repatriation ceremonies, is a long process that can take years. Throughout the process, the commitment to return the Ancestors to rest on Country guides everyone.

Reviewed 29 May 2019

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