Introduction to Repatriation: Principles, practice and policies

Course details


2nd to 6th September 2019

Participants should arrive at venue on Sunday 1st September to commence course on Monday 2nd. Course will finish at 5pm on Friday 6th September.

Transport to local airport (TBA) must be organised and paid by participant. Options for NCIS organising local travel, catering and accommodation are available – see ‘enrolment’ tab


The repatriation of ancestral remains is an extraordinary Indigenous achievement and inter-cultural development of the past 40 years. Participants will join with Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts and learn on country in order to learn the practice, history, meaning and significance of repatriation for Indigenous peoples, museums and broader society.

Participants will develop a holistic understanding of repatriation, its history and significance. You will acquire practical skills to assist in the development of repatriation processes, increase your understanding of Indigenous people’s efforts to secure the return of ancestral remains, and gain familiarity with repatriation policies in a domestic and international context. You will discuss the important essential skills for successful repatriation and learn their practical application. You will learn on country by visiting relevant sites and hearing from the traditional owners about repatriation, its meaning, importance and processes

The course is convened by the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at The Australian National University in collaboration with with community partners on the Return, Reconcile, Renew project (see below)

This intensive five-day program is a professional development short course hosted by Traditional Owners in collaboration with partners on the Australian Research Council Linkage Project: 'Return, Reconcile, Renew: understanding the history, effects and opportunities of repatriation and building an evidence base for the future.'. It is convened by the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at The Australian National University.

The course is delivered on country and hosted by one of the three community project partners. Speakers include Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts on repatriation from Australia and overseas.

In 2015 the course was held on Ngarrindjeri country, south of Adelaide, hosted by the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority (NRA). In 2018 the course was held in Broome and Fitzroy Crossing and hosted by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC). The 2019 course returns to Ngarrindjeri Country, and will be taught at the NRA offices in Murray Bridge, with a day of site visits.

"Participating in this course has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my masters. Being surrounded by passionate academics and activists in the field was the perfect introduction to such an overwhelming part of history. It was a great balance of learning the historical context, while gaining crucial insight into the contemporary issues related to repatriation. An incredible opportunity that I would recommend to anyone." – Darcy Whitmore, ANU Masters Student


What:This is a professional development course delivered through an intensive 5-day program on country. You have the option of taking it with or without assessment, as this is also a graduate course (MUSC8019) for those enrolled in an ANU Masters program (for options see enrolment tab).

Who:The course is for those interested and engaged in repatriation practice, research and policy-making in community, museum, university and government sectors.

Presenters:There will be presentations and panels from national and international repatriation experts both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Participants will learn from traditional owners on country about the challenges and successes of repatriation practice.

Dates:Participants will travel to the venue on 1st of September. The course runs from Monday the 2nd of September to Friday 6th September. Lifts to Adelaide airport will be provided on the morning of Saturday 7 September, so flight departures should be scheduled after noon from Adelaide airport.


The course will be hosted by Ngarrindjeri traditional owners on Ngarrindjeri Country, south of Adelaide in South Australia.

Burial sites of the Ngarrindjeri were heavily raided from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, mostly by representatives of the State, and in particular by Adelaide Coroner, Dr William Ramsay Smith. Consequently, Ngarrindjeri have been involved in repatriation practice since the early 1990s, although they are first documented as requesting the return of Old People in the early 20th century.

Venue: Venue: Murray Bridge, South Australia

Travel and accommodation

If flying in, participants must organise and pay for their own travel to Adelaide airport. We can organise:

  • local travel from airport to course venue
  • lunch catering
  • local budget accommodation.

Details on all associated costs can be found in the ‘enrolment’ tab and should be submitted via the registration form.

Accomodation details

Budget accommodation has been organised in Tailem Bend, close to Murray Bridge. Local transport will be provided. More details to follow.


Academic Contact: Associate Professor Cressida Fforde E

General Inquiries: Craig Greene: T +61 2 6125 8437 E

Program Partners

  • The National Centre for Indigenous Studies (ANU)
  • The Flinders University of South Australia
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of Tasmania
  • The National Museum of Australia
  • Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre
  • Gur a Barahharaw Kod (Torres Strait Land and Sea Council)
  • Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority
  • Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
  • The Australian Government’s Indigenous Repatriation Unit in the Ministry of Communication and the Arts

Updated:  3 July 2019/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer