In the Budget handed down on 8 May 2018, the Commonwealth Government allocated the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) funding of $2 million over two financial years. This funding is for initial work on a new Return of Cultural Heritage measure, to scope and commence activity relating to the return of culturally significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander items from overseas.
A return of cultural heritage will support and facilitate the cultural resurgence of Australia’s First Nations’ peoples. 250 years after the arrival of Cook on the east coast paved the way for a process of expropriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage, this measure is an important signal to the nation and the world that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is respected, celebrated and valued. The return of significant cultural heritage items during 2020 reminds us that the first story of Australia is an Indigenous one and this story in central to our national story.
This measure forms part of the larger $48.7 million over four years’ package ‘250th Anniversary of James Cook’s Voyage’. The package is designed to support a range of exhibitions, activities and events to mark the anniversary.
Further commitments for this project will be guided by the outcomes of the scoping exercise. AIATSIS will provide further information as the return of cultural heritage programme is scoped.
Read the more about the announcement in the Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield’s media release - Strengthening Australia's connectivity, creativity and cultural heritage.