Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the bodies of Australians who died in the MH17 disaster will start returning to their families this week.

The bodies of Australian victims of the MH17 disaster will begin to return home to their families this week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told parliament.

“I say to all the families you have the deepest sympathy of all us in this parliament,” Mr Abbott told the lower house on Tuesday.

“This was not just a tragedy it’s an atrocity.

A memorial to the victims will be established in the parliamentary gardens and will be unveiled before the first anniversary of the attack that killed 298 people, including 38 Australians.