Incorporating welcoming and acknowledgement protocols into official meetings and events recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and custodians of their land. It promotes an awareness of the past and ongoing connection to place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Welcome to Country
- A welcome to country is a ceremony performed by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who welcome visitors to their traditional land. It can take many forms, depending on the particular culture of the traditional owners. It can include singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in traditional language or English.
- To arrange a welcome to country you need to speak to your local Elders. If you do not know who your local elders are you can contact Reconciliation Australia http://www.reconciliation.org.au/ for their assistance.
- If you cannot arrange for an Elder to attend your event or if your event is too small to warrant a formal Welcome to County you can make an Acknowledgment of Country.
Acknowledgement of Country
- An Acknowledgment of Country is a way of showing awareness of and respect for the traditional owners of the land which a meeting or event is being held, and of recognising the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their Country.
- An Acknowledgment of Country can be informal or formal and involves visitors acknowledging the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander owners of the land as well as the long and continuing relationship between Indigenous peoples and their Country. At a meeting, speech or formal occasion the speaker can begin the proceedings by offering an Acknowledgment of Country. Unlike a Welcome to Country, it can be performed by a non –Indigenous person. There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgment of Country, though often a statement may take the following form:
‘I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on the traditional lands of the <insert traditional area name> people, and pay my respect to elders both past and present.’
‘I am honoured to be on the ancestral lands of the <insert traditional area name> people. I acknowledge the First Australians as the traditional custodians of the continent, whose cultures are among the oldest living cultures in human history. I pay respect to the elders of the community and extend my recognition to their descendants who are present.’
Information provided from the Reconciliation Australia Fact Sheet ‘Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country’ for more information go to http://www.reconciliation.org.au/