Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Minister welcomes further repatriation of Indigenous remains

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said a UK museum’s decision to repatriate the remains from two Indigenous communities was another positive result for Indigenous Australians.

In an historic decision, the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London today agreed to release Tasmanian remains and remains from the Narungga community in South Australia.

"I welcome the decision by the Museum’s Board of Trustees," Minister Brough said. "It is a positive response and a significant breakthrough for the work of both Indigenous groups and governments in Australia and the United Kingdom."

"When Indigenous communities and governments work together, their combined efforts can produce good results, as these returns demonstrate," he said.

"The museum has decided to delay the returns by some months which is regrettable given the importance that Aboriginal people place on these remains. It would be my preference that all the remains be returned immediately."

Mr Brough said the Australian Government had long been committed to the repatriation of Indigenous remains held in overseas collections and this is yielding significant results.

Following a joint statement by Mr Howard and Mr Blair in 2000, agreeing to increase efforts to repatriate remains to Indigenous communities, about 10 institutions in the UK, including the British Museum, have agreed to release remains from their collections. This is more than double the number prior.

Since 1996, approximately 608 remains have been returned from the UK, Sweden and the USA, showing that the Australian Government’s collaborative approach in this area is working for Indigenous Australians.