Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country Protocol.
The process of “Welcome to Country” and “Acknowledgement of Country” recognises the unique position of Gundungurra people in our culture and history as well as in Australian culture and history.
Gundungurra people are the Original Custodians of our Land. It is important this unique position is recognised and incorporated as part of the official protocol and events to enable the wider community to share in our culture and heritage, assisting better relationships between Gundungurra people, local Aboriginal members and the wider community.
By integrating Gundungurra Acknowledgements and Ceremonies into official events and daily proceedings, government agencies; private business/corporations and the wider community can provide opportunities to recognise and pay respect to Gundungurra people’s culture and heritage. They also highlight the importance and promote mutual respect and understanding of the cultural heritage of Gundungurra people and our traditional lands.
The ceremony performed at an event should be appropriate to the nature and size of the event. When planning an event, Aboriginal staff or relevant representative of the event should consult with Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation to provide advice on:
- Community representatives who should be contacted.
- The appropriate ceremonies and performances.
- Gundungurra elders and representatives who should be contacted.
- Provide assistance with initial connection/introduction to appropriate persons.
- The difference between: “Welcome to Country” And Acknowledgement of Country”
Welcome to Country:
Not any Gundungurra or Aboriginal person can give a “Welcome to Country”, it must be given by an appropriate person for example a recognised Elder, who is recognised by Gundungurra people, local Aboriginal community members within the local community and traditional boundary areas.
In some parts of our traditional lands there are disputes about who the traditional Custodians of an area. This should be recognised as an effect of dispossession, which has meant people have been dislocated from their land and have returned to an area where they may not be recognised or accepted as traditional custodians by the local community.
Gundungurra Tribal Council recognises and acknowledges that there is a significant number of Aboriginal ceremonies and or protocols that necessitate respect. Some of our Gundungurra ceremonies and protocols are sensitive and are not discussed or shared with the broader community.
These can include:
Culture & Heritage knowledge that is gender based ie: “Women’s Business” or Men’s Business”.
In most cases Gundungurra people and individuals will acknowledge if they are not permitted to talk about protocols or ceremony because of age, gender, status or because it is not appropriate.
Most significantly Gundungurra representative or representatives should be comfortable with the arrangements that have been mutually negotiate and it is important to note that the Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation endorses that presenting of a “Welcome to Country” ceremony is a right of Gundungurra recognised elders and not a privilege.
What is Welcome to Country?
A Welcome to Country is where a Gundungurra representative/elder welcome people to their Land. This is a significant recognition and is made through a formal process. A “Welcome to Country” should always occur in the opening of the event in question, as the first item.
The “Welcome to Country” is conducted by a Gundungurra representative who welcomes the delegates, attendees, etc. to our Country. This provides an invitation and acknowledgement of Gundungurra people’s traditional rights and traditional lands.
What is Acknowledgement of Country?
“Acknowledgement of Country” is a way the wider community can demonstrate respect for Gundungurra protocol and can be performed by any party that is participating in an occasion of any kind on Gundungurra traditional lands.
“Acknowledgement to Country” can be performed by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. It is a demonstration of respect dedicated to the Gundungurra people of the Gundungurra lands where the event is being conducted. For example:
"I would like to demonstrate my respect by acknowledgement of the Burragorang people of this Gundungurra Land, of elders past and present, on which this gathering/meeting is being held".
A significant practice for all individual; groups; agencies and departments is to demonstrate mutual respect for Gundungurra people and our practices. It is vital to understand that the meanings of ceremonies and other cultural acts and practices differ across regions and localities.
From the onset it is important to invite the relevant representative that is nominated and endorsed by Gundungurra Tribal Council into any proposal or event coordination for participation. To ensure the culturally appropriate format is included and to determine how the representative will be recognised for their time.
Acknowledgement of Country:
An Acknowledgement of Country” is a way that all people can show respect for Gundungurra culture and heritage and the ongoing relationship we as traditional owners have with the Land.
At the commencement of a gathering; function or meeting, a senior delegate or representative should begin by acknowledging that the event is taking place in Gundungurra land of the Gundungurra people.
Examples of Acknowledgement to Country:
"I would like to demonstrate my respect by acknowledgement of the Traditional owners of this Gundungurra Land, of elders past and present, on which this gathering/meeting is being held.
"I would like to acknowledge the Gundungurra people who are the traditional owners of this land. I would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Gundungurra Nation and offer that respect to other Aboriginal elders and people present".
In November 2009 the following members of the Gundungurra Tribal Council are recognised and endorsed to provide Welcome to Country on behalf of Gundungurra people and our traditional lands.
Tony Cooper 02 4782 2435, Greg Simms 02 4782 2435 or 0403 731 550