First, here’s a definition and clarification of the difference between an Acknowledgement of Country and a Welcome to Country:
A Welcome to Country is normally performed by an Elder of the local Indigenous language group. An Acknowledgment of Country can be performed in the absence of an indigenous representative. While there is no prescriptive Acknowledgment of Country protocol appropriate for all communities, contexts or geographical locations.
Here are some easy to understand guidelines (source: Museums and Galleries NSW).
Here are five tips for confidently Acknowledging Country:
- Make it personal but also don’t be afraid to follow a guide: there are many people who personalise an acknowledgement of country in wonderful ways. If you are new to the process build up to this by nailing the guided wording.
- Seek feedback from peers and a traditional custodian where possible: if you are afforded the opportunity you may wish to confirm with senior members of your local community that your pronunciation or wording is appropriate.
- Feel pride: the place you are speaking to has a rich history which spans many, many generations. By acknowledging this – where you are when you are when you begin a presentation you can honor this history.
- Practice makes perfect: Some nations take time to pronounce correctly, keep repeating and listen closely to improve the way the words flow.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are a continuing culture: take care not to place us in the past by making sure that you are using the present tense – we are still here!