A Welcome to Country is a protocol where Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners welcome others to the land of their ancestors.
The Welcome to Country ceremony is carried out at significant events and formal functions involving people from other parts of the country or from overseas. Which occurs with an elder from the local group presenting a Welcome Speech or a traditional song or dances troupe performance or smoking ceremony, with representatives being provided substantial payment for their participation.
If payment is waivered then the presenting parties should show respect by arranging pick-up and drop off of participants and after the event to have a seating place in the shade for elders with light refreshments if they wish to stay.
After elders have had their refreshment, arrange immediate transportation back home. As elders should not have the financial burden of attending these functions nor stress off figuring out food and transportation times.
This practice shows respect for the Traditional Owners and Elders of a particular area or region.
A Welcome to Country should be conducted at major public functions and incorporated into any event where Indigenous issue, programs or services are being promoted. Especially government organised, funded and co-funded events such as:
- openings of festivals
- award programs
- significant community engagement forums.
A Traditional Owners Acknowledgement differs from a Welcome to Country in that it can be delivered by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
A Traditional Owners Acknowledgement practice demonstrates respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and recognises the importance of acknowledging Traditional Owners of the land and/or sea.
A master of ceremonies either introduces the Traditional Owner representative to provide a Welcome to Country or makes an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners and Elders.
An example of an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners and Elders
“I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land [Name of the Group if known] on which this event is taking place and Indigenous elders both past and present.
Queensland Government – Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.
https://www.qld.gov.au/atsi/cultural-awareness-heritage-arts/welcome-to-country/index.html Last updated: 4 May 2017