Welcome to Country

In Australia today, it is common to have a Welcome to Country ceremony before an official occasion or public gathering. The ceremony is conducted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, usually an elder, who is a Traditional Owner of the land where the event takes place. Welcome to Country ceremonies are incrediblyvaried and can include dance, song or speeches in English or the local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language.

For tens of thousands of years, the continent of Australia and the islands of the Torres Strait have been shared by over 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups with clearly defined land and water boundaries. Protocols were developed to provide permission for people to move across these boundaries for trade, education, spiritual or social purposes. Originally the protocols included Welcome to Country ceremonies that provided information or safeguarded visitors and guests from physical and spiritual hazards as they travelled across the land.

Today remembrance, acknowledgement, and respect are the key elements of a Welcome to Country. Remembering the truth about this country and its history of colonisation. Acknowledging the Traditional Owners and their continuing connection to the land and waters. Respecting the culture and knowledge of the Traditional Owners that can offer deep insights for all, who visit, or live on their traditional lands.