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Ned Kelly’s remains should be returned to his family and he should be given a decent burial says former Pentridge Prison chaplain, Fr Peter Norden, AO.

Fr Norden, who has been appointed a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne, says that in the 12 years since the former Pentridge Prison closed and moved into the hands of private commercial developers, nothing has been done to recognise the grave sites of those buried in the prison grounds.

Ned Kelly’s remains were moved from the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1929, after they were disturbed by building works for the Melbourne Working Men’s College (now RMIT University), along with more than 30 other persons executed in the city gaol. They joined the remains of the 10 executed and buried at Pentridge Prison.

“Forensic Services are now assessing the human remains buried at Pentridge Prison. These are not unknown persons, but the remains of those the Victorian Government executed,” Father Norden says.

Because of the lack of recognition of the Pentridge gravesites, Fr Norden, arranged for the exhumation of Ronald Ryan 40 years after his execution. His remains were returned to his family last year, and Fr Norden is now calling for the same treatment for Ned Kelly’s remains.

“Female descendants of Ned Kelly’s family have expressed to me an interest in providing assistance for DNA testing and I believe they should decide where Ned gets buried, certainly not back in the former Pentridge Prison site.

“Ned Kelly’s family’s descendents should have the same rights as Ronald Ryan’s,” insists Fr Norden. “It would be fitting to conduct a private memorial service for the family, as his remains should not be controlled by private commercial interests.

“Let’s give Ned Kelly a final resting place with his deceased family members and insist that the Victorian Government recognises the human remains of those who cannot be identified, by providing a memorial at the gravesites at Pentridge.”

Father Norden AO will be available for interviews at the Melbourne Law School today.

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