We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional custodians of our land – Australia. The Gadigal of the Eora Nation are the traditional custodians of this place we now call Sydney.
As a mark of respect to the traditional custodians, our events, official meetings, functions and other special occasions begin with a Welcome to Country or an acknowledgement of Country.
We encourages other organisations, community groups and event producers to include a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country on appropriate occasions.
Welcome to Country
A Welcome to Country or Traditional Welcome is where the traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander custodians welcome people to their land at the beginning of a meeting, event or ceremony. This welcome must be conducted by an appropriate person such as a recognised Elder from the local area.
Welcome to Country enables the Traditional Custodians to give their blessing to the event and is an important mark of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australia’s original inhabitants.
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 our 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 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.
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.
HistoryAboriginal peoples have lived in Sydney for thousands of years and the City celebrates their historic ties to the land.Published 20 October 2017
History & archive collectionsWe have lots of rich and interesting online resources to search and explore.
Library collectionsReflecting the voice and perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with over 2,000 items.