Welcome And Acknowledgement Of Country
Welcome And Acknowledgement Of Country
Why are Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements of Country Important?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced a long history of exclusion from Australian history books, the Australian flag, the Australian anthem and for many years, Australian democracy. This history of dispossession and colonisation lies at the heart of the disparity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community today.
Including recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in events, meetings and national symbols is one part of ending the exclusion that has been so damaging. Incorporating welcoming and acknowledgement protocols into official meetings and events recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of land. It promotes an ongoing connection to the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and shows respect for Traditional Owners.
Credit: Reconciliation Australia.
Welcome to Country
Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been a part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. Despite the absence of fences or visible borders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups had clear boundaries separating their Country from that of other groups.
Seeking permission to enter or use resources from the land and sea has always been in place in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies. When permission was granted the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering safe passage and protection of their spiritual being during the journey. While visitors were provided with a safe passage, they also had to respect the protocols and rules of the land owner group while on their Country.
Today, much has changed and these protocols have been adapted to contemporary circumstances. However, the essential elements of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remain in place. This Welcome also gives custodians the opportunity to formally welcome people to their land.
When does a Welcome to Country occur?
Who can perform a Welcome to Country?
What is said during a Welcome to Country?
What to consider when organising a Welcome to Country
When organising a Welcome to Country ceremony, it is important to consider the following factors:
- the Elder or community member is provided with information regarding the audience they are welcoming
- the equipment the Elder or community member is required to use if applicable, for example, a microphone and being on a stage
- offering transport where necessary
- payment for Welcome to Country may be required and should be negotiated prior to the event along with the method of payment and amount.
Acknowledgement of Country
When does an Acknowledgement of Country Occur?
Who can perform an Acknowledgement of Country?
What is said during an Acknowledgement of Country?
There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgement of Country, though often a statement may take the following forms.
General: I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.
Specific: I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today, the (people) of the (nation) and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
What to consider when organising an Acknowledgement of Country
When organising an Acknowledgement to Country, it is important to consider the following factors:
- that the correct Traditional Owner group has been identified and confirmed, South Australian Native Title Services may be able to assist you on this matter)
- that the Acknowledgement is personalised to suit the occasion in which it is being provided for.
In providing cultural services such as Welcome to Country, artistic performances and ceremonies Aboriginal people are using their intellectual property. As such, providers of these services should be appropriately remunerated.
Appropriate remuneration and / or assistance should be negotiated between the cultural service provider and the agency, considering:
- travel to and from the event
- public profile of the event