Acknowledgement of Country
Acknowledgement of Country
Acknowledgement of Country is a way for both indigenous and non-indigenous people to bring to front of mind the continuing and ongoing role that indigenous peoples have in Australia.
Mediation Institute and it’s people acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the Traditional Custodians of Australia and pay respect to elders past, present and emerging. We recognise the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities.
Uluru Statement from the Heart
In 2017 an event of great hope for indigenous Australians was held resulting in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The statement was not received by our federal government in a way that provided much hope for the role and recognition that the Statement from the Heart asked for.
The Governments consequential Joint Select Committee process – https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Constitutional_Recognition_2018
Meditation Institute response and commitment
We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples were the first sovereign nations of the Australian continent and adjacent islands from time immemorial and that this sovereignty has never been ceded.
We support a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for indigenous families based on justice and self-determination.
We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have suffered and are suffering terrible abuses of their human rights and make a committent to truth telling and providing services and support to help in preventing those abuses and improving outcomes for our first nations people.
We commit to learning about Makarrata and where we can supporting the process of Makarrata.
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. From the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Mediation Institute provides training in Family Group Conferencing to help improve processes in child protection and family dispute resolution to help prevent racist and culturally inappropriate processes and increase self-determination for indigenous people.
Why Acknowledgement of Country?
At an event Acknowledgement of Country involves visitors acknowledging the original Indigenous custodians of the land and their long and continuing relationship with their Country. It’s a way of showing awareness of and respect for the original Indigenous custodians of the land on which an event is being held.
Workshops and Meetings
In the case of a workshop it is the responsibility of the workshop planner and lead facilitator to ensure that they know what lands the workshop is being held on and provide a customised Acknowledgement of Country identifying the traditional custodians of the land upon which they meet.
Mediation Institute Head Office is in the City of Casey on the traditional land of the Bunurong and Wurundjeri People.
Many of the Mediation Institute activities are held online and span the nation in a virtual sense rather than having individuals travel to any one place.
Putting an Acknowledgement of Country page on our website and taking a moment to do an Acknowledgement of Country at the beginning of our webinars is a recognition offered by a representative of Mediation Institute as part of our committent to truth telling and recognition for Indigenous Australians.
The intent of Acknowledgement of Country is to provide recognition that the Indigenous Australians are the traditional custodians of the land and raise awareness of their role in contemporary Australia.
What is Welcome to Country?
Welcome to Country is a welcoming ceremony to the visitors to country and can take place in a number of forms. It should be performed or authorised by an appropriate elder and would not be performed by a non-indigenous person.
Why are these practices important?
Incorporating Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country into official events:
- – recognises the place of Indigenous people as the first custodians of this land
- – promotes awareness of the history and culture of Indigenous people
- – formally acknowledges Indigenous people’s ongoing connection to land
Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country are not concepts tied to legal ownership of land. This is because the meaning of Country in Indigenous Australian cultures incorporates more than just ownership or occupation of land.
Professor Mick Dodson explains:
“When we talk about traditional ‘Country’ … we might mean homeland, or tribal or clan area and we might mean more than just a place on the map. For us, Country is a word for all the values, places, resources, stories and cultural obligations associated with that area and its features. It describes the entirety of our ancestral domains.”
What are the origins of Welcome to Country?
Welcome to Country is an ancient Indigenous tradition that was practised when one Indigenous community sought permission to enter another clan’s traditional land. The ceremony varied from clan to clan.
Can this practice make a difference?
Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country are seen by some as symbolic gestures that have limited benefit.
What this view fails to take into consideration is that in Australia the ongoing Indigenous disadvantage is associated with dispossession and ongoing intergenerational trauma that many indigenous families continue to face.
Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country, as practices that promote awareness of and respect for Indigenous culture, are part of ending the history of silence that began with the myth of Terra nullius ( a Latin expression meaning “nobody’s land”) upon which Australia was founded and exclusion that has resulted in Indigenous disadvantage today.
Acknowledgement of Country will not change anything by itself but it is one requested way of showing respect and for that reason alone it has merit.