Welcome to Country

What is Welcome to Country?

A Welcome to Country is a ceremony performed by local Aboriginal person/s of significance (usually an Elder) to acknowledge and give consent to officially welcome visitors on their traditional lands. Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies, and/or a speech.

YSRC is not able to provide specific or individual advice on who can perform a Welcome to Country, but is able to pass on requests to Cultural Committee representatives and offer them the opportunity to provide guidance if appropriate.

What happens in a smoking ceremony?

A smoking ceremony is an ancient aboriginal custom in Australia that involves burning various native plants to produce smoke, which has cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits from the people and the land and make pathway for a brighter future Acknowledgement with respect at events.

Acknowledging Country

Event opening speech recognises First Nations people as the original custodians. Importantly, it promotes awareness of the histories and cultures of First Nations people, and the resilience of our connection to Country before events commence. This is usually done by people who are not speaking on their traditional Country.

Generally, the Traditional Owners of the lands covered by the Yamatji Nation Indigenous Land Use Agreement prefer their Country to be acknowledged individually, rather than as a collective. We recommend you contact local Traditional Owners to seek their advice on how best to acknowledge Country.

A generic format for an Acknowledgement of Country is below, but we recommend further research to ensure your acknowledgement is appropriate and offered in the spirit of respect.

“We would like to respectfully acknowledge the [specific name]/Yamatji Peoples who are the Traditional Owners and First People of the land on which we stand. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present and future for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of the Yamatji Peoples”.