Many organisations use an Acknowledgement of Country at the beginnings of meetings, or other events. Often it is a stock-standard Acknowledgement that is used in these meetings. And, I applaud this. Certainly, if your organisation is getting used to following these traditional customs then any reasonable attempt of any reasonable wording is a fabulous start.
Having a stock-standard Acknowledgement for every occasion is a great way to embed the practice into your organisation as it makes it familiar and easy to remember. A stock-standard Acknowledgement is often short and sweet. It gets the job done. Every time. It's a good thing. It's a clear signal that this is important.
Here's an example of my stock-standard Acknowledgement of Country I use on a regular basis. Chances are, if you've seen me do an Acknowledgement of Country, it was this one.
However, if you've been delivering an Acknowledgement of Country for any length of time you may want to step up your game. If, for example, you have the opportunity to deliver an Acknowledgement to a new or larger audience you might want something that stands out. If it's a rare event you may want to deliver something more special. Or perhaps you're kicking off your Aboriginal employment or Reconciliation journey and you want to capture the hearts and minds of your audience or workforce. In all of these cases, and many others, you can broaden your Acknowledgement of Country. You can tailor it to the occasion.
A tailored Acknowledgement of Country for special events can draw attention to Aboriginal people, families, communities, cultures, experience as well as the event's theme. Some examples of when you may want to use a made-to-measure or special Acknowledgement of Country:
- Launch of your organisation's Reconciliation Action Plan
- Days of National importance such as ANZAC Day
- To recognise the national NAIDOC Week theme "Because of her, we can"
- A special acknowledgement to brand your organisation as a worthy employer of Aboriginal people
A big special event deserves a big, prepared Acknowledgement. While a regular monthly meeting doesn't need something spectacular, at least, not every time.
When I work with my clients, I give them the choice between introducing a stock-standard Acknowledgement of Country, or developing a special branded Acknowledgement that has special meaning for their organisation and their vision. Many organisations want to develop a unique Acknowledgement of Country as a signal of their commitment to Aboriginal employment and Aboriginal communities. They often want to draw attention to how their values drive them to serve Aboriginal people and communities. They want to send a strong clear signal that we are important. They want us to know that Aboriginal people, families and communities matter, and have a place in their services and workplaces. They want us to know that we can have success alongside them.
I was recently asked to do an Acknowledgement of Country for a local International Women's Day event at Ourimbah campus of University of Newcastle. A group of women (and one man) gathered to hear speakers from the "All About Women" event in Sydney which was live streamed to a lecture theatre. I saw this as an ideal situation to draw attention to the strength of Aboriginal women in my communities, and so I prepared a distinct Acknowledgement of Country to do this. It's brief, it's to the point, but I think it does what I intended. What do you think?
So, that's one example of an Acknowledgement of Country that has been tailored to the occasion.
Have you ever delivered an Acknowledgement that went beyond the stock-standard? Was it branded for your organisation? Or was it for a special occasion? What occasions could you do a special Acknowledgement? What organisation values could you highlight in your next Acknowledgement of Country?
Leave your questions and comments below. I'd be happy to answer any questions.