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The process of Welcome to Country and Acknowledgment of Country recognises the unique position of Aboriginal people in the Australian culture and history.
Aboriginal people are the Original Custodians of the land. It is important this unique position is recognised and incorporated as part of official protocol and events to enable the wider community to share in Aboriginal culture and heritage. This in turn facilitates better relationships between Aboriginal people and the wider community, and we are honoured to do so.
The Acknowledgement of Country should take place at the beginning of any public ceremony or community event to recognise and respect the culture and heritage of the First People of Australia.
The type of ceremony performed at an event should be appropriate to the nature and size. When planning an event you should consult with Aboriginal staff within your school or workplace or see Office Support staff to provide advice on:
Two ceremonies can be performed:
The Traditional Custodians of the land, usually a senior representative of the local Aboriginal community, should undertake the Welcome to Country Ceremony.
However, this is dependent upon the location of the event and the practice of the community. Steps should be taken to ensure that the appropriate Aboriginal representative is invited to undertake the ceremony. It is very important that the Aboriginal representative has been involved in and is comfortable with the arrangements.
An Acknowledgment of Country is a way that all people can show respect to Aboriginal culture and heritage, and the ongoing relationship of the Traditional Custodians of the land.
At the beginning of a meeting or function, a Chair or Speaker begins by acknowledging that the meeting is taking place in the country of the Traditional Custodians. Where the name of the Traditional Custodians is known, it is specifically used. Where it is not known, a general acknowledgement is given.
Local Aboriginal organisations such as the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Elders Council, etc, can provide advice as to who are the Traditional Custodians of the specific lands.
An example of 'Acknowledgment of Country' could be:
"I would like to show my respect and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land, on which this meeting takes place. I would like to respectfully acknowledge the _______________ people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we stand."
Respect, Acknowledge, Listen - Practical protocols for working with the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities within the Bankstown City Council Local Government Area