An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is an opportunity to acknowledge and pay respect to First Nations people. They are the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land. Acknowledgements are often made at the commencement of an event or gathering, such as a meeting, speech, celebration or formal occasion. An acknowledgement can be made by anybody - Indigenous or non-Indigenous.
There are many ways to give an Acknowledgement of Country. You can say it, write it, sign it, or communicate it in another way. It will reference the First Nations people, or Traditional Owners of Country. It should try to highlight the unique place they hold in relation to Country and history. Below is an example, but you can do it in your own words. It's good to make it personal and genuine.
I/We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
It is best to refer directly to the Traditional Owners on the land where you are. For example, in the CBD of Sydney, the Traditional Owners are the Gadigal people, of the Eora nation. So in Sydney, an Acknowledgement of Country might be: 'We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Country on which we meet today, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.'
A Welcome to Country is done by a Traditional Owner, custodian, or Elder on behalf of a nation or group. It can be done through speech, dance, song or ceremony.
‘Welcome to Country’ is an important ceremony. Inviting a custodian or Elder to perform it is a way that non-Indigenous people can recognise First Nations culture and history.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced significant exclusion from Australian society since colonisation. Also, many non-Indigenous Australians have not had the opportunity to learn about and celebrate the rich cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This has contributed to the disparity between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians that persists today.
Acknowledging First Nations people at the start of a gathering is a small way to respect the Traditional Owners of Country. It is a sign of respect to First Nations people and cultures. It is also a great way to promote awareness of First Nations cultures and issues amongst wider groups of people. Increasing awareness will help us build a more united Australia, that celebrates and embraces our First Australians.
Use this link to the AIATSIS map to find the custodians of the land are where you live.