An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is a way to acknowledge and pay respect to First Nations people as the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land.
Acknowledgements are often made at the start of an event - such as a meeting, speech or formal occasion. An acknowledgement can be made by anybody - First Nations or non-Indigenous. An Acknowledgement of Country will often highlight the unique position of First Nations people in the context of culture and history, and their relationship with the land.
There are many ways to make an Acknowledgement of Country. It can be spoken, written, or signed (Auslan - sign language). The words can vary and people are encouraged to do an Acknowledgement in a way that is meaningful and personal.
Often an Acknowledgement of Country will have a similar structure and wording to the below example:
We/I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We/I pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
If you know the name of the First Nations of the land where you are, it is great to acknowledge them directly. For example, in the Sydney CBD, the Traditional Owers are the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. So if you are in Sydney you could say:
We/I 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/I pay our/my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
A Welcome to Country is done by a Traditional Owner, custodian, or Elder from a particular local region. This can be done through speech, dance, song or ceremony.
Welcome to Country is an important traditional ceremony. Inviting a custodian or Elder to perform 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 for many years. Many non-Indigenous Australians have not had the opportunity to learn about and engage with the rich cultures of First Nations people. This contributes to the divide between cultures and limits opportunities to connect and learn.
Acknowledging First Nations people at events is one way to help end this exclusion. It recognises the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first custodians of this land and, importantly, promotes awareness of the history and culture of First Nations people. Increasing awareness will help us create a more united Australia, that centres First Nations people.
Use this the AIATSIS map to find the custodians of the land are where you live.