Secret or Sacred Objects

We work with Traditional Owners to ensure the safe return of their secret or sacred objects, items important to cultural strength and tradition.

What are Secret or Sacred Objects

An Aboriginal object is one that is of cultural heritage significance to Aboriginal people generally or a particular group or community of Aboriginal people in Victoria.

Secret or Sacred Objects are secret or sacred according to Aboriginal tradition. Aboriginal Traditional Owners are the people who can say what Aboriginal objects are secret or sacred.

Secret or Sacred Objects include items:

  • associated with a traditional burial
  • created for ceremonial, religious or burial purposes
  • used or seen only by certain people
  • sourced from or containing materials that only certain members of the community can use or see.

Objects that are made for sale are not secret or sacred items.

Secret and Sacred Objects are a big part of who we are. They carry stories that shape us, and we, and future generations, in turn shape them. They need to be with their rightful custodians so they can keep carrying our stories and our connection with them.

Council member (2011–2021)

Returning objects to Traditional Owners

The 2016 amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 resulted in a seismic shift in terms of who owns Secret or Sacred Objects and who is permitted to possess an Aboriginal object that is considered secret or sacred by the Traditional Owners of the place the object originated. The changes required individuals and businesses such as auction houses, antique dealers and registerd collectors who were in possession of Secret or Sacred Objects, to transfer the objects into the custody of Council.

The amendments also gave clear direction to State government entities and other entities such as universities, museums and other institutions on the rights of an Aboriginal person or Traditional owner of Secret or Sacred Objects in their possession.

Legal ownership of Secret or Sacred Objects is held by the Traditional Owners.

Anyone who has a Secret or Sacred Object in their possession should report it to us by emailing