National Museum welcomes Parliamentary Committee call for National Resting Place for Indigenous Remains

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The National Museum of Australia in Canberra has welcomed a recommendation by a federal parliamentary committee that the Australian Government consider the establishment of a National Resting Place in the national capital, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains.

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has issued its final report to Parliament, recommending that the Government consider the establishment in Canberra, of a National Resting Place, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remains, which could be a place of commemoration, healing and reflection.

The committee is co-chaired by government MP for Berowra in NSW, Mr Julian Leeser and Labor Senator for Western Australia, Senator Patrick Dodson.

National Museum director, Dr Mathew Trinca said the Museum has a long history of returning ancestral remains to Indigenous communities, from museums in Australia and abroad.

"The National Museum has long supported calls for an Indigenous-run National Resting Place in Canberra, to take care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remains, which cannot be repatriated to their countries of origin," said Dr Trinca.

In partnership with the federal government, the National Museum operates an Indigenous Repatriation Program in Canberra which includes a repatriation centre housing ancestral remains at its Mitchell facility.
 
Since the mid-1980s the National Museum has returned the remains of over 1,200 Indigenous individuals to their communities.
 
The Museum's repatriation facility holds and cares for remains on behalf of communities who request assistance, and remains whose provenance is unknown.
 
In 2014, the Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation (ACIR) provided the National Resting Place Consultation report to the Australian Government.

The report proposed the establishment of a resting place to care for the remains of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors which are unable to be returned to their communities of origin.

The National Museum's submission to the ACIR recommended the construction of a resting place, to be run by Indigenous people, for the long term care and commemoration of unprovenanced Indigenous remains.

 
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