Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country
Welcome to Country
Only Traditional Owners/Custodians of the land on which the event takes place can deliver a Welcome to Country.
Acknowledgement of Country
If a Traditional Owner is not available to do a Welcome to Country, an Acknowledgement of Country can be delivered instead.
An Acknowledgement of Country is usually delivered as part of Welcome and Housekeeping at meetings and events.
It should be delivered at significant/large internal meetings or meetings with external participants e.g. branch meetings, inter-departmental meetings etc.
There are three types of Acknowledgement of Country:
Generic — this should be used if you don’t know the name of the people on whose land you are gathered, or if there are disputes about the land (multiple Aboriginal peoples identify as Traditional Custodians for that area). The words are:
'I begin today by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we <gather/meet> today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.'
Specific — this should be used where there are no disputes and you know the name of the people on whose land you are gathered. The words are:
'I begin today by acknowledging the <insert name of people here (e.g. Ngunnawal)> people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we <gather/meet> today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.'
General (Australia-wide – webinar/website/printed material) - The words are:
'In the spirit of reconciliation, the [organisation] acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.'
Advice from Reconciliation Australia
‘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.
Example from ReconciliationAustralia.org.au:
Reconciliation Australia acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Noongar people formed the basis of a six-season year described by the prevailing weather conditions with associated flora and fauna activities and growth.
December - January
Known as the season of fire and the young, Birak is very hot and dry. Burning of scrub was once done to encourage new shoots to grow.
June - July
Makuru is the coldest season with rain, storms and long nights. There is good hunting of yongka (kangaroo), wetj (emu), kaarda (goanna), koomal (possum) and kwenda (bandicoot).
February - March
Long days and short nights signify Bunuru, the hottest of the six seasons. Traditionally this was and still is, a great time for living & fishing by the coast, rivers and estuaries.
August - September
Djilba is a transitional time of the year, with some very cold and clear days combined with warmer, rainy, windy days. You'll notice budding djet (flowers) and koola (emu plum) start to fruit. It's also a great time to catch some djildjit (fish).
April - May
Djeran is marked by cooler nights, dewy mornings and when leaves fall to the ground. Ngari (salmon) are prolific.
October - November
Kambarang sees longer and warmer days and less rain. The djet are in full bloom and plants used for mereny (food), medicine, crafts, tools, kaal (fire) and ceremony are collected.