A Welcome to Country is where an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander custodian or elder from the local area or region welcomes people to their land. This may be done through speech, song, dance or ceremony and has been part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocol for thousands of years.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols or customs in relation to Welcome to Country are diverse and will vary from region to region.
Organising a Welcome to Country for your event shows respect for the traditional custodians of a particular region or area.
The ACT Government acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding areas.
The ACT government encourages organisations and departments to invite a Ngunnawal elder to do a 'Welcome to Country' at the opening of a meeting, launch, special event or official function.
How to organise a 'Welcome to Country' in the ACT
For further questions please contact the ACT Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on (02) 6207 9784 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important that event organisers allow enough time to discuss with traditional custodians what form of Welcome to Country will be undertaken at an event and if any particular protocols or customs need to be observed by those in attendance.
If you cannot arrange for a Ngunnawal elder to attend your event, or if your event is considered too small to warrant a formal Welcome to Country, you can make the following acknowledgment:
‘I/We wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal people. I/We wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. I/We would also like to acknowledge and welcome other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be attending today’s event.’
Disclaimer: The ACT Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs does not accept responsibility for, nor is liable for, any arrangements or financial agreements entered into by parties in relation to 'Welcome to Country' events.