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Robert McWilliams

Senior Collection Manager, Indigenous Restricted Collections

About me

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I currently manage the Indigenous Restricted Collections, which include Indigenous Ancestral Remains, and men’s ceremonial objects.

Over the period from 1997 to 2014, I was employed on a range of projects within Indigenous Collections at Museum Victoria, variously assisting with the preparation, packing and relocation of the Indigenous Collections from Swanston Street to Melbourne Museum (1997-2000); and the cataloguing and documenting of skeletal remains, objects, manuscripts, and photographs in the Indigenous Collections. Between MV projects, I was a member of a team of cataloguers of the Melbourne Cricket Club Museum collections (2002-2004).

Previously, I taught History (Australian, European, 20th Century, and Revolutions) and Australian Studies in secondary schools. I returned to study to complete a Graduate Diploma in Humanities (Archaeology) with a focus on Australian Indigenous occupation of southeastern Australia, and an Honours thesis – 'A History of Approaches to the Analysis of Australian Aboriginal Stone Artefacts’.

I am a member of Museums Victoria’s Repatriation Team. The team’s primary aim is to repatriate Australian Indigenous Ancestral Remains and men’s ceremonial objects by

  • providing information to Communities - from the museum’s database, historical documentation and archives - about the original provenance of Ancestral Remains and ceremonial objects currently in the museum’s custody
  • providing physical access to these ‘restricted’ collections by Community members, and authorised researchers
  • assisting Communities to prepare remains for repatriation and reburial
  • answering enquiries from communities, organisations - e.g. Aboriginal Victoria (AV), the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council (VAHC), Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs), and other Traditional Owner organisations/Land Councils etc - about this collection, and the museum’s repatriation activities and history.
  • receipting remains lodged at the museum for ‘safe keeping’ by AV, and providing physical access to AV and VAHC staff as required
  • compiling statistics and information for reports to Museums Victoria management, the museum’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee, and Victorian State and Federal Government authorities.

Qualifications

Bachelor of Arts; Diploma of Education; Graduate Diploma Humanities (Archaeology); Honours (Archaeology)

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