When it comes to the question of why Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements of Land important, are important, I think it can be summed up like this:
The Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Land are probably the most relevant traditional ceremonies for the modern Australian workplace.
Why are these ceremonies culturally important?
The two versions of this tradition are important to Indigenous Australian cultures for a number of reasons. For many Aboriginal cultures, you do not set foot on another group's lands without permission for both spiritual and practical reasons. When traveling, you wait on the border for an opportunity to request safe passage.
This recognises the local mob’s (group’s) connection and knowledge of the local lands and waters. This connection and knowledge that is still an important part of Aboriginal peoples’ lives and cultures today. These ceremonies also acknowledge the land as a living entity.
In contemporary cultures, they show respect for the first peoples of Australia and recognises their place as original inhabitants and custodians of the land. It is a mark of respect and a chance to acknowledge the past and continuing connection and knowledge that local Aboriginal people have with the land.
Why is it important for Indigenous employment? When Welcomes to Country and Acknowledgements of Land are embedded in the organisational culture and practice, it can have a positive impact on your workplace and its attractiveness to Aboriginal talent.
The inclusion of these ceremonies in your workplace signifies a recognition of traditional country as an important aspect of Indigenous Australian cultures. It demonstrates your commitment to the inclusion of Indigenous peoples and cultures within your organisation, and therefore commitment to Indigenous employment.
Regular Acknowledgements of Land are a clear signal to employees, managers and others present that Indigenous recognition is important to your organisation. This can be an important indication to Indigenous staff, and can contribute to attracting Indigenous talent.
When these ceremonies are a regular part of the organisation’s practice, when they are embedded in the organisational culture, the workplace is safer and more welcoming of Aboriginal peoples and cultures. This goes a long way with improving the retention of Aboriginal staff.
Imagine for a moment that an Aboriginal person is attending an event hosted by your organisation. What message is given when a Welcome or Acknowledgement is given? And equally important, what message is given when it isn’t?