Acknowledging Country

Being a national web resource supporting the needs of many around the country, the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet acknowledges the traditional owners and Elders past and present across Australia, with particular acknowledgment to the Whadjuk people of the Nyoongar nation, the traditional owners of the lands where our offices are located.[1]

Recognising diversity

The HealthInfoNet recognises that there is great diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia. This diversity, reflecting traditional and geographical variations across Australia and different experiences since 1788, is an integral part of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society. The diversity exists in specific beliefs, stories and myths, religions, ritual practices and language. It is also seen in contemporary lifestyles, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote, rural and urban communities.

This great diversity has important implications for efforts aimed at closing the gaps in health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Background to the Acknowledgment of Country

Acknowledging the traditional owners of country and seeking permission to enter or use resources have always been a part of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and increasingly, the practice is occurring in wider Australian society.

It is now customary to acknowledge traditional ownership of the land at the commencement of conferences, major functions and public presentations. This acknowledgment pays respect to the traditional owners and their ancestors and affirms the cultural, spiritual and religious practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It also increases awareness and recognition of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.

Acknowledgment of Country

An Acknowledgment of Country is a way both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from other areas can show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and the ongoing relationship of traditional owners with the land.

Acknowledgment can take the form of a general recognition of the ‘traditional owners of the land’. Alternatively, more specific recognition can be given to the language group on whose land the event is taking place. The Map of Aboriginal Australia, published by Aboriginal Studies Press, has been reproduced here, with permission, to help identify the traditional language group of the area where the event is held. The boundaries may not, however, be precise and it would be prudent to confirm that the language group designated is acceptable to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

References

  1. The HealthInfoNet recognises that there are a number of different spellings for Nyoongar and Wadjuk. The spellings used here were endorsed in August 2008 by Edith Cowan University’s Indigenous Consultative Committee.

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