Dutch hand over Aboriginal remains
Elders from the Bundjalung Aboriginal community will return to Australia next month with the remains of their ancestors handed over by Dutch institutions.
Bundjalung elders John Morrissey and Gwen Hickling were in the Netherlands to collect the remains, held by the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), during a ceremony at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden on Tuesday.
Speaking shortly before the ceremony, Morrissey said the move would make history.
"This is the first time it's ever happened to the Bundjalung people," Morrissey told AAP.
"This is a really, really important thing for us to be over here to go and collect our ancestors and take them back home again to their resting place.
"I'm very excited about it and so are the people waiting at home for us to return with them."
Morrissey and Hickling will repatriate the remains of two Bunjdalung ancestors to their community in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.
They will call a meeting of community elders in Lismore to organise a ceremony to deliver the remains to their final resting place.
The bones were acquired by the Dutch Museum of Ethnology in 1882.
The remains of three other Aboriginal Australians held by LUMC will be returned to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, where further research will be carried out into their origins.
British scientist Sir Joseph Banks gave one of those remains to Leiden University professor Sebald Brugmans.
It was acquired by the university following Brugmans' death in 1819.
Morrissey and Hickling will also travel to the UK to meet with representatives of Oxford University and the Natural History Museum to discuss the return of the remains of four Bundjalung ancestors.
"We're going to go an negotiate with them too," Morrissey said.
"We want to take them all home together."
The elders are expected back in Australia on October 8.
Since 1990, the remains of more than 1,150 indigenous people have been repatriated to Australia.
There are still more than 900 indigenous Australian remains in museums around the world, mostly in the UK, Germany, France, Poland and the US.