Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country
When you are at a ceremony or meeting, such as a school assembly or another public event, you will often hear someone open the ceremony with a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country. This is a very important way to show respect to the Indigenous people of Australia and their culture, and to recognise their special position as the first people to live in Australia.
A Welcome to Country is a welcome given by someone, such as an Aboriginal elder, who is a representative of the traditional Indigenous custodians of the land on which the event is taking place. The welcome may be a speech only or it may include a performance. This depends on the region where the welcome is taking place.
An Acknowledgement of Country is an official recognition of the Indigenous traditional custodians of a locality and can be performed by either a non-Indigenous or an Indigenous person.
The wording may be different in different places, but here are some examples of what is commonly said in an Acknowledgement of Country:
I would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which this meeting takes place, and to pay respect to elders both past and present.
I would like to acknowledge the _______ people who are the traditional custodians of this land. I would also like to pay respect to elders both past and present of the _______ nation and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people present.
(The name of the people who are the traditional custodians would be filled in.)