Why are Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements of Traditional Owners important?
A Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners recognises the continuing connection of Aboriginal Traditional Owners to their Country. Victoria has a strong and proud Aboriginal history, comprising of complex ownership and land stewardship systems stretching back many thousands of years.
The Victorian Government supports Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements of Traditional Owners as part of the process of reconciliation and healing, in addition to affording the appropriate respect to Traditional Owners of Country.
Anyone can provide an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land.
Why is it important to follow the advice for Welcomes and Acknowledgements?
A specific Acknowledgement, or request for a Welcome to Country, is not recommended in areas where formal recognition has not occurred as it may:
- privilege one group’s interests in Country over other groups
- pre-empt the outcomes of formal recognition processes
- lead to disputes between groups who have an interest in or association with Country
The Victorian Government seeks to support the formal recognition of Traditional Owners across Victoria. Formal recognition ensures Traditional Owners are afforded the rights, responsibilities and benefits as the First Peoples of Country, and provides the broader community with certainty about who are the Traditional Owners of Country.
The formal recognition processes uphold the self-determination of Traditional Owners to reach their own agreements about extent of Country.
Although Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements of Traditional Owners are a significant way of recognising and celebrating the Traditional Ownership of Country, it is important they occur only when it is appropriate.
Welcomes to Country should be performed by formally recognised Traditional Owners on their land.
How does the Victorian Government formally recognise Traditional Owners?
There are 3 ways in which the Victorian Government formally recognises Traditional Owners of a particular Country:
- by way of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council appointing a Traditional Owner corporation as a Registered Aboriginal Party under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006
- by way of a recognition and settlement agreement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010
- by way of a consent determination by the Federal Court under the Native Title Act 1993 and accompanying Indigenous Land Use Agreements.
How can I find out who are the Formally Recognised Traditional Owners?
The easiest way to find out who the Formally Recognised Traditional Owners are for an area is to consult the interactive map.
Should I organise a Welcome to Country or Acknowledge the Traditional Owners of an area in Victoria?
Welcome to Country
A Welcome to Country ceremony is performed by Aboriginal Traditional Owners for people visiting their Country. These ceremonies vary from speeches of welcome to traditional dance and smoking ceremonies.
Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners
An Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners can be done by anyone and is a way of showing awareness of, and respect for, the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of the land on which a meeting or event is being held.
Reviewed 10 October 2019