Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country
What is a Welcome to Country?
A Welcome to Country is given by Aboriginal people, welcoming visitors to their Land. Only Tasmanian Aboriginal people can give a Welcome to Country in Tasmania. It is highly disrespectful for anyone else to do so.
A Welcome to Country might involve:
- A speech from a Tasmanian Aboriginal Elder or community representative
- Short history of the people and the area
- Story telling
- Singing and dancing
This depends on who is giving the Welcome to Country, and to whom it will be given.
What is Country?
Tasmanian Aboriginal people have a distinctive and age-old connection with their ancestral lands and waters. They are custodians with particular responsibilities. When an Aboriginal person talks of ‘Country’; this encompasses not only the land and water but also culture, knowledge, and the environment.
When should a Welcome to Country be given?
A Welcome to Country may be given at an event, conference, meeting or exhibition regardless of whether there is an Aboriginal focus or if there are Aboriginal people present.
How do I organise a Welcome to Country?
The Office of Aboriginal Affairs is able to assist with information and direction regarding a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgment of Country.
What is an Acknowledgement of Country?
An Acknowledgement of Country is about how to respectfully acknowledge Aboriginal people during meetings, events, and forums.An Acknowledgement:
- can be made by anybody, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal;
- is about recognition of Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples’ survival and continual connection with the land spanning more than 60,000 years;
- pays respect to Aboriginal people, both past and present; and
- highlights the unique position of Aboriginal people, their culture and history.
When should an Acknowledgement of Country be given?
- It may not always be necessary to perform an Acknowledgement of Country for all meetings and discretion should be applied. However, where possible, an Acknowledgment should be included on meetings for which an agenda is provided. An Acknowledgment of Country should be the first item on a meeting agenda.
- An Acknowledgment of Country can also be performed at the beginning of videoconference and teleconference meetings, noting that an acknowledgement could also be expanded to generically acknowledge the other traditional lands on which teleconference participants are located.
- It is common at some events or meetings that subsequent speakers may also make an Acknowledgment of Country as they speak for the first time (even though a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country may have already been given).
Types of Acknowledgement
There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgement of Country. A statement may take the following form:
- 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 and acknowledge Aboriginal people present today; or
- I’d like to pay respect to the traditional and original owners of this land, the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, - to pay respect to those that have passed before us and to acknowledge today’s Tasmanian Aboriginal people who are the custodians of this land; or
- [Example for Hobart only and with original name included] I pay respect to the traditional and original owners of this land the muwinina (mou wee nee nar) people, - to pay respect to those that have passed before us and to acknowledge today’s Tasmanian Aboriginal people who are the custodians of this land.
It is acceptable to read the above from notes although it is preferable to say them without prompts. It is considered disrespectful to mispronounce an Aboriginal place name or person’s name; and therefore it is advised to only say these names if confident of the pronunciation.
For any additional information or assistance contact the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.