Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are inherently linked to their ancestral lands. Connection to Country is crucial to Indigenous identity, spirituality and cultural wellbeing.
An Acknowledgement of Country is the practice of recognising the Traditional Custodians of the land on which a gathering is held. It can be performed by Indigenous or non-Indigenous persons and is a demonstration of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and recognition of the relationship the Traditional Custodians have with their Country.
There is no set wording for an Acknowledgement of Country, though often a statement takes a general form such as:
I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet today. I also pay my respects to Elders past and present and I extend that respect to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people present.
A factsheet on Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country can be found on the Reconciliation Australia website.
Welcome to Country ceremonies performed by Indigenous Elders are appropriate for major events, including official launches, opening ceremonies, exhibitions and functions where official guests are in attendance. Protocols for conducting a Welcome to Country vary according to region, and content should be negotiated well in advance with Elders. More information on organising a Welcome to Country in the Australian Capital Territory can be found on the ACT Community Services website.