Welcome to Country

Welcome to Country

Traditional welcomes

The City of Sydney acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of our land – Australia. The City acknowledges the Gadigal of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of this place we now call Sydney.

As a mark of respect to the traditional custodians, City of Sydney events, official meetings, functions and other special occasions begin with a Welcome to Country ceremony.

The City encourages other organisations, community groups and event producers to include a Welcome to Country and/or an Acknowledgement of Country on appropriate occasions.

Welcome to Country

A Welcome to Country is delivered by an Elder (or another appropriate representative from the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities) and can take the form of a speech or a performance.

Whether spoken or performed, the aim of the ceremony is to acknowledge the traditional custodians and welcome the wider community.

The Elder (or a representative) will give their blessing to the event, function, meeting or occasion. In response, the host (or key speaker) will acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by paying respects to Elders (past and present).

Acknowledgement of Country

Acknowledgement of Country is where other people acknowledge and show respect for the traditional custodians of the land on which the event is taking place.

Such an Acknowledgement of Country can be used exclusively if an Elder or other appropriate member of the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities is not available to perform a Welcome to Country.

In the City's local area when opening an event, or at the start of a speech, a statement like this can be used:

"I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present." 

Traditional custodians

Traditional owners and custodians are the terms used to describe the original Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples who inhabited an area.

Traditional custodians today are descendants of these original inhabitants and have continuing spiritual, cultural, political and often physical connection with particular land where their ancestors lived.

The traditional owners and custodians of the local area are known as the Gadigal people.

For more information regarding traditional owners and custodians please contact the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

You may also hear the traditional custodians referred to as the Eora people and the area called Eora Country.

The word 'Eora' simply means 'here' or 'from this place'.

Local Aboriginal people used the word to describe to the British where they came from and so it was later used to define the Aboriginal people themselves.

The terms are proudly used today.


For information about how to appropriately conduct a Welcome to Country, contact the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

If you would like to be provided with contact details for an appropriate representative to conduct a traditional welcome, be sure to get in touch 2 weeks (minimum) before your event.

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council

Phone: 02 8394 9666
Facsimile: 02 8394 9733
Email: bookings@metrolalc.org.au
Postal address: PO Box 1103, Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Last updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2017