On 10 April 2017, the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council (VAHC) (the Council) advised the University of Melbourne of the new legislative requirements of section 14 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (theAct), which commenced on 1 August 2016. The changes require all public entities and universities which may hold Aboriginal Ancestral Remains and associated Aboriginal objects to examine their holdings and report on any collections to the Council within two years of the commencement of the Act (i.e. by 31July 2018). Public entities and universities reporting the existence of Ancestral Remains and associated artefacts were asked to take all reasonable steps to transfer any collections into the custody of theCouncil as soon as practicable.
The Council requested copies of all documentation, correspondence and research relating to AboriginalAncestral Remains and associated Aboriginal objects currently held by the University. In addition, any files, photographs or archival material relating to previous transfers of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains and associated Aboriginal objects to Museums Victoria were also to be provided to the Victorian AboriginalHeritage Council.
In response to the Council’s advice, the University of Melbourne conducted an audit of all cultural collections, which involved collection managers and responsible staff undertaking a thorough review of their holdings. Residential Colleges were consulted as part of the audit and requested to audit their holdings for Ancestral Remains and associated objects. In addition, all Faculty Deans were contacted and advised of the audit. Deans were asked to notify all staff in their area, encouraging them to support the process by reporting any findings.
Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker
The University of Melbourne
Murray, L, Ormond-Parker, O, Shears, S, 2018, Report to the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council: Audit of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains and Associated Aboriginal Objects, The University of Melbourne
Murray, L Ormond-Parker, O Shears, S 2018, Report on Aboriginal Ancestral Remains in the custody of The University of Melbourne, The University of Melbourne