July 8, 2015

Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country

Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country

By Museums & Galleries of NSW


A protocol is defined as a behavioural code that people use to show respect to each other. Each culture has different sets of procedures and gestures that are understood to be polite. In working respectfully with Indigenous communities there are several important protocols worth knowing and understanding.
The first is the Welcome to Country and while there is no prescriptive Welcome to Country protocol appropriate for all communities, contexts or geographical locations, there are easy to understand guidelines. The Welcome to Country is usually conducted by an Elder of the Aboriginal language group who originate in the location of where your event is held. In some situations there may be more than one language group and this requires following a specific set of procedures to show proper respect to all.
The second and related protocol is the Acknowledgement of Country. This is used when no Indigenous leader or elder is present at a meeting, presentation or public event and is conducted by a non-indigenous person.


While these protocols should be followed out of general politeness it’s important to understand they have other roles which help to facilitate reconciliation and strengthen Aboriginal identity. This includes acknowledgment that:
  • Aboriginal Australia is recognised as the oldest living culture in the world. Originally consisting of diverse nations and languages, the Aboriginal people within NSW experienced massive change to their way of life as a result of European colonisation.
  • Indigenous cultural expression plays a major role in the revitalisation of cultural practices and continued strengthening of Aboriginal identity.
  • Indigenous culture is informed by the past, and that Indigenous cultural expression is a vital part of contemporary society.
  • Self-determination for Aboriginal communities is supported by setting cultural priorities and the adoption of appropriate cultural protocols in the public sector.
  • The public sector plays an important role in supporting, maintaining and nurturing Indigenous cultural heritage and expression.
  • Respect and visibility in public events especially in the arts and cultural community fosters goodwill and strengthens cultural identity.
  • Acknowledging the diversity within Indigenous communities and their different cultural bases of histories, geography, languages, political and social contexts is important.

Tips for success

Welcome to Country can be used in several ways - as an Indigenous formality to complement other formalities of an event or as a traditional welcome by the Indigenous community through dance and music.
The Welcome to Country is most effective when the host organisation consults with the local Indigenous community for these events.
Involving an Indigenous representative from the local area is highly recommended. This can be established by seeking the advice of the local Aboriginal Land Council, the Local Council or the Council’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer if one is available. If the Local Council has an Aboriginal Consultative Committee or group they will also be a useful resource.
Welcome to Country formats can be quite formal or complex–if there are several Indigenous Elders or groups in the area they may each want to present a Welcome to Country. They may also have their individual way in which they want to present it. This can be in the form of their own story about their life as an Indigenous person in Australia and their relationship to their family and the local area. It could be in the form of a symbolic gesture of reconciliation eg: an Elder offers a large branch of a tree with leaves to guests and asks guests to take a leaf from the branch away with them.
After an Indigenous representative gives an official Welcome to Country for an event, other speakers (both Indigenous and Non-indigenous) are encouraged to acknowledge the original custodians of the land before they commence their speech.
When there is more than one Indigenous language group in the area and you are not sure which group should be approached consult your Local Aboriginal Land Council or Local Council first.
If an Indigenous representative or an Elder of the original custodians is not available for the Welcome to Country, ensure the other Indigenous language group representative acknowledges the original custodians before introducing their own community.


In many cases Welcome to Country is performed free of charge as an act of generosity by the indigenous community. It is important to acknowledge this.
It is not customary for an Indigenous Elder or representative to request payment for a Welcome to Country though it is courteous to make an offer of an honorary payment.
Payment may be necessary in certain circumstances. If an indigenous person’s participation is needed for a relatively short period of time but requires significant travel for that person, their travel and meal costs should be covered.
If you need indigenous participation for more than half a day payment is necessary. This also applies for any formal consultation you may require regarding cultural protocols or Indigenous policy issues. Any travel, meal or accommodation costs should be covered.

You might also like ...

Museums & Galleries of NSW, Fact sheet: Prepare an Acknowledgement of Country Statement
City of Sydey, Welcome to Country
Australian Land Councils, Local Land Council lists

July 4, 2015

"Mount Canobolas – The mountain, the farms, the people"

Orange & District Historical Society

“Mount Canobolas – The mountain,the farms,the people”

Speakers: - Professor Warren Somerville and Morrie Dally

 A large group celebrates the first Cherry Blossom Festival in 1939 at the Dally family orchard, ‘Bryn Gobaith’, Nashdale. Photo courtesy Morrie and Joan Dally.

The next meeting of the Orange and District Historical Society’s History Alive series will focus on Orange’s very own mountain, Mount Canobolas.
Most people would not be aware that Mount Canobolas was one of the largest volcanos in NSW millions of years ago.
At that time, the ancient landscape was covered with a layer of basalt from the volcano and the mountain is one of the few remnant volcanos still in existence (Bathurst’s Mount Panorama is another).
Orange owes much of its horticultural and agricultural success to the legacy of the mountain, including rich basalt soils, a cool climate and relatively high rainfall.
This resulted in intensive settlement, and until recent decades there were hundreds of small orchards, dairies and mixed farms in the area.
Guest speakers will be geologist Professor Warren Somerville and orchardist Morrie Dally.
Professor Somerville, who grew up on a local orchard, will bring a wealth of knowledge about the geology of the mountain. He has had a life-long interest in geology, during which he built up a huge collection of fossils and minerals from throughout the world.
Much of his collection can be seen at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in Bathurst.
He will give an illustrated talk on the geology of the mountain and will bring along rare specimens of rocks from the mountain.
Morrie Dally comes from a Nashdale orcharding family. His grandfather James Dally jumped ship in 1861 and headed to the goldfields at Bendigo. He eventually moved to the Orange district and bought ‘Tregeagle’, in the Canobolas area, in 1912. Morrie was born at Tregeagle, later moving to ‘Bryn Gobaith’, and has been an orchardist all his adult life. Morrie has a wealth of knowledge about the orchardists of the Canobolas area.
Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting, and a particularly warm welcome will be given to orchardists from the Canobolas area.
The meeting will take place at Orange Senior Citizens Centre (entry from Woolworth’s car park) on Wednesday, July 8 at 7 for 7.30pm.
There is a small charge of $3 for members of Orange and District Historical Society and $5 for non-members, to cover costs. Light refreshments will be served.
If you have any inquiries or would like to attend the meeting, please RSVP Phil Stevenson on 0402 412 188, email: ibiswines@bigpond.com