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Return to Country: Repatriation and Resilience


Event Status

Repatriation is an issue at the heart of many cultural institutions, as museums and galleries reckon with the violent colonial histories that underpin significant portions of their collections. Once sought and traded as aesthetic trophies and scientific evidence, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects and ancestral remains, housed and hidden in institutions across the world are thought to number in the many thousands.

Malthouse Theatre’s production of The Return, premiering as part of RISING, engages with the importance of returning these items and remains back to Country. This epic theatre experience spans 250 years and explores the untold perspectives of these macabre true histories and the false justifications behind them.

At this panel discussion, we’ll hear from The Return’s writer John Harvey and co-director Jason Tamiru, along with senior curator Kimberley Moulton. With host Daniel James, they’ll consider the play’s themes, alongside Moulton’s insights into alternative models of collection and display that prioritise community access and situate these cultural belongings within a continuous flow of history. At the intersection of creative exploration and institutional knowledge, they’ll discuss how the repatriation of Ancestors can bring us closer to truth-telling and First Peoples agency in museums.

Please note John Harvey will appear via video feed.

Presented in partnership with RISING and Malthouse Theatre.


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John Harvey

John Harvey is a writer, director and producer of Saibai Island (Torres Strait) and English descent. He is the creative director of independent theatre + film company, Brown Cabs. In theatre, he made his writing debut in 2017 with Heart is a Wasteland (Malthouse / Brown Cabs), touring nationally wi... Read more

Kimberley Moulton

Kimberley Moulton is a Yorta Yorta woman and writer and curator. She is currently Senior Curator, South-Eastern Aboriginal Collections at Museums Victoria and an Artistic Associate for RISING Festival Melbourne. Kimberley works with knowledge, histories and futures at the intersection of First Peopl... Read more

Jason Tamiru

Jason Tamiru is a proud Yorta Yorta man passionate about his people and culture. He has worked with many of Melbourne’s most iconic performing arts companies, museums and festivals. As a producer he supports his people’s creativity by building frameworks that complement cultural expressions. Jas... Read more

Daniel James

Daniel is an award-winning Yorta Yorta Melbourne based writer and broadcaster. He hosts the Mission on 3RRR and is the winner of the 2018 Horne Prize for his essay Ten More Days. Born in Melbourne and raised on Taungurong country in North East Victoria, Daniel’s work explores notions of empathy, i... Read more


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176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.