People often ask me about the difference between a Welcome To Country and an Acknowledgement of Land. The Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Land are probably the most relevant traditional ceremonies for the modern Australian workplace.
Here's the quick guide to the difference between the two ceremonies.
Welcome To Country
Welcome to Country is given by an Elder, Traditional Custodian, or recognised spokesperson of the local Aboriginal community. It is given to open proceedings at an event by welcoming you, your organisation and visitors to Country.
The Welcome may provide a brief history or story about the land, their connection with it, or introduce you to some local customs or landmarks. It may involve stories, dance, song, a smoking ceremony or other activities.
Acknowledgement of Land
An Acknowledgement of Land (or Acknowledgement of Country) serves the same purpose as a Welcome; to introduce and recognise the land and tradition. Except in the case of an Acknowledgement, you are acknowledging Aboriginal people, traditional custodians and the land, rather than welcoming people to it. And, an Acknowledgement of Country can be given by any person, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal.
In the workplace, my view is that the most senior member of the host organisation is often the best person to give the Acknowledgement.
I’m often asked if an offer can or should be made to an Aboriginal staff or guest. To which I’d say this: As an Aboriginal person, I pay my respects to the lands and Elders every day in many ways. It is because of this, I would argue it is sometimes more respectful if the Acknowledgement is done by a non-Aboriginal person, instead of handed to the only Indigenous person present. So, feel free to make the offer, but don’t expect them to do it.
Making sense? Leave your questions below.