While the Warlpiri Research Centre was being renovated, WCE staff collaborated with Warlpiri Media Association (WMA) trading as PAW Media and Communications to acquire funds from Granites Mines Affected Areas Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC) to repatriate the Olive Pink Collection from AIATSIS and the National Museum of Australia.The aim of this activity was to generate Warlpiri research activity through acquiring access to closed files comprising Warlpiri knowledge of cultural significance.
The Community Engagement Leader commenced negotiations with AIATSIS and the National Museum of Australia in June 2015 over the repatriation of the Olive Pink Collection comprising 800 photos, 12,000 pages of anthropological records.Negotiations also took place with the National Museum of Australia over its Olive Pink artefact collection. For the next eight months, the Community Engagement Leader facilitated access applications and processes in collaboration with WMA. In March 2016, AIATSIS granted permission to WMA through formal agreement with AIATSIS under the Copyright Act 1968, the AIATSIS Act 1989 (Cth) and the AIATSIS Collections Access and Use Policy.
The Olive Pink collection is one of the largest archival collections in AIATSIS and contains sensitive data relating to both Warlpiri and Arrernte culture recorded in the 1930s.For this reason, the Community Engagement Leader was required to collaborate with Lhere Artepe Indigenous Organisation based in Alice Springs to appoint Arrernte senior custodians to work closely with senior Warlpiri leaders of Yuendumu in classifying the material.In April 2016, a group of three Warlpiri and three Arrernte researchers in collaboration with WCE staff visited AIATSIS and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra to examine the Olive Pink Collection and prepare for repatriation. All material has been digitised and repatriated to the Warlpiri Research Centre. Over the long term, Simon Fisher will collaborate with Warlpiri researchers, marking sensitive material and to collect knowledge on unmarked material: all items contained in the photographic and artefact collection have little or no information recorded. It is intended to provide feedback to AIATSIS and the National Museum of Australia, which partnership development will benefit the community for subsequent research projects.
This action was facilitated by the WCE staff to build Indigenous research capacity in the Warlpiri Research Centre, in which GMAAAC also contributed funds. The Yuendumu community is now able to promote the Warlpiri Research Centre to gain ongoing support.For instance, towards the end of this initiative, WCE community-based staff submitted applications to GMAAAC to purchase computers for the Warlpiri Research Centre to assist with sustaining research activities.