State Library of South Australia

Repatriation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

In an effort to reconnect with, revive and preserve their unique culture, an increasing number of Indigenous communities are establishing Indigenous Knowledge Centres or other community-run databases and projects. These projects create and store their own content, but also seek access to the rich collections of material held by libraries, museums and other collecting institutions.

See examples from the Northern Territory Library, the Yirrkala Community and the Ara Irititja project.

To assist these projects, the State Library has developed a policy to provide material to such community-run databases and projects on a cost-recovery basis. Through this policy, the State Library of South Australia acknowledges the important role that connection to culture plays in maintaining Indigenous health and wellbeing.

Read the Repatriation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities policy.

Worrora Community visit

In March 2012, the State Library hosted senior members of the Worrorra community, from Mowanjum near Derby in north-western Western Australia. Donny Woolagoodja, Janet Oobagooma and Margaret Mungulu were accompanied by Dr Kim Doohan and Joh Bornman during their trip to examine the collection of the Reverend James R.B. Love (PRG 214).

Reverend Love was the superintendent of the Presbyterian mission at Kunmunya (near Derby) from 1927 until 1937, when he left to work at the newly formed Ernabella Mission. His collection includes over 600 photographs taken during his time at Kunmunya, a journal documenting the culture of the Aboriginal people (the Worrorra and their neighbours the Wunumbal, and the Ngyarinyin), and several other items containing the Worrorra language.

The Worrorra people are in the process of gathering information about them that has been collected and deposited throughout the country. Over 300 of the images in our collection have been digitised, and so under the terms of the Repatriation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities policy we were able to supply these images for their burgeoning community archive free of charge, and we will continue to work together to return more valuable material to the Worrorra people.

Donny Wooladgoodja, Worrorra Elder and the current custodian of the Wandjina artworks, examines photographs of Wandjinas from the 1930s in the Love collection. Beside him are Margaret Mungulu and Janet Oobagooma.

Worrorra Traditional Owners

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