Welcome to Country and other Indigenous Ceremonies

Welcome to Country and other Indigenous Ceremonies

SUMMARY

The Welcome to Country and other Indigenous Ceremonies Policy establishes Macquarie University's requirements for the recognition of Indigenous people at official events or at events where Macquarie University is a sponsor. The Procedure provides further guidance on required responsibilities and actions when arranging ceremonies for the recognition of Indigenous people at official events.

POLICY

1     PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Describe the Macquarie University requirements for the recognition of Indigenous people at official events or at events where Macquarie University is a sponsor
  • Acknowledge and pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly the Darug nation;
  • Assist with building strong connections with the Darug community;
  • Promote the importance of acknowledging Indigenous cultural protocols amongst students and staff at Macquarie.

2     BACKGROUND

Macquarie University promotes an inclusive and culturally safe environment for all staff and students. Ceremonies and protocols are central to Indigenous culture.  Macquarie is proud to share the unique histories and cultures of Indigenous people. It is important that this unique position of Indigenous people is recognised and incorporated into Macquarie policy to enable everyone to share in Indigenous culture and facilitate better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

The use of ceremony in events at Macquarie promotes:

  • A greater understanding of Indigenous culture throughout the wider collegiate
  • Greater inclusivity of our Indigenous students and staff
  • Respect to Indigenous cultures and heritage
  • The development of mutual respect and understanding
  • Opportunities to witness and experience Aboriginal cultures first hand and to change perceptions by demonstrating that Aboriginal cultures are living and enduring
  • Relationships with Indigenous peoples and our local Indigenous communities.

3     SCOPE

This Policy applies to all staff and students involved in initiating and hosting official events at all campuses and locations of the University.  It is important to know that different campuses and locations acknowledge different Aboriginal nations. 

4     DEFINITIONS

Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary. The following definitions apply for the purpose of this Policy:

  • Indigenous- All Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people of Australia
  • Local Indigenous Custodian - Key persons and keepers of various knowledge within Indigenous communities

5     POLICY STATEMENT

The University will recognise the traditional custodians of the land on which an official event is being held, or an event is being held where the University is a sponsor. 

The Office of Indigenous Strategy will determine the type of ceremony that is appropriate for the nature and size of the planned event and will coordinate all bookings for Welcome to Country, Acknowledgement of Country and other Indigenous ceremonies.

All arrangements for a Welcome to Country are to be conducted through the Office of Indigenous Strategy. This includes contacting the appropriate Elder or group and remuneration arrangements.  No other staff member or student is to contact an Elder or group regarding a Welcome to Country before contacting the Office of Indigenous Strategy.

All arrangements for Acknowledgement of Country are to be made locally by the person responsible for the event.

The minimum requirement for Macquarie University events is for an Acknowledgement of Country.

It is important to know that different locations and campuses acknowledge different Aboriginal nations.  The North Ryde campus is situated on Darug land.  The City location is on Gadigal land.

CEREMONIES

The Office of Indigenous Strategy will determine one of the following ceremonies to recognise the traditional custodians:

Welcome to Country

A Welcome to Country ceremony is to be undertaken ONLY by a local Indigenous Custodian, locally recognised Indigenous Community spokesperson or locally recognised cultural service provider. The Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of an event and is usually the first item on the programs agenda.  The local Indigenous Custodian will choose what words they use and the Welcome can be conducted through speech, song, ceremony or a combination of these.

Events or ceremonies that should include a Welcome to Country:

  • NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee);
  • MQU graduation ceremony;
  • Awards and presentation nights;
  • Conferences;
  • State-wide and national meetings;
  • Special ceremonies;
  • Events that attract visitors from other areas of Australia or overseas;
  • Events that include attendance by Ministers, Executive, or special guests;
  • Events that include the Indigenous community, staff and students.

Acknowledgment of Country

An Acknowledgement of Country is a way for the wider community to demonstrate respect for the local Indigenous Community and land.  It can be performed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. An Acknowledgement of Country should be performed as the first item on the program agenda.

An Acknowledgment of Country is used when a local Indigenous custodian is not available to attend and conduct a Welcome to Country. It can also be used if the ceremony or event is a less formal proceeding.  The wording of an Acknowledgement of Country is quite different to a Welcome to the Country. It is a statement of respect made by visitors to an Indigenous community or Indigenous people from other nations and recognises the Indigenous community as the traditional custodians of the land where the meeting is being held.

Events or ceremonies that should include an Acknowledgment of Country:

  • Internal meetings;
  • Committee meetings;
  • Cross-faculty meetings.
  • Week 1 Lectures
  • Faculty or group specific orientation sessions
  • Local forums or presentations

Example of the wording that can be used is: 

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are gathered and pay my respects to their Elders both past and present.  I would like to extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today.

Example of the wording that can be used at the North Ryde Campus only is:

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Macquarie University land, the Wattamattagal clan of the Darug nation, whose cultures and customs have nurtured, and continue to nurture, this land, since the Dreamtime.  We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.

In addition to recognising the traditional custodians through either a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country ceremony, other appropriate ceremonies that may be determined by the Office of Indigenous Strategy include (but are not limited to) Smoking, Dance and Music ceremonies.

RESPONSE TO WELCOME TO COUNTRY OR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

The speaker who follows immediately after the Welcome to Country ceremony or Acknowledgement of Country should provide an appropriate response. Part of the response should acknowledge the person who has delivered the Welcome to Country or Acknowledgment of Country. The following text can be used in response to the traditional Welcome to Country:

 I would like to thank (insert name) for welcoming us to Country  and would also like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are meeting and pay my respect to the Elders, past and present, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The following text can be used in response to an Acknowledgement of Country:

I would like to thank (insert name) for their Acknowledgement of Country.

It is not necessary for every speaker at an event or gathering to provide a response or an acknowledgement of country.

REMUNERATION

In providing cultural services such as Welcome to Country, artistic performances and other ceremonies, Indigenous people are using their intellectual property.  As such providers of these services should be appropriately remunerated.  The faculty / division that is hosting the event will be invoiced for the cultural services.

6     RELEVANT LEGISLATION

7     KEY RELATED DOCUMENTS

Welcome to Country and other Indigenous Ceremonies Procedure
LGA Aboriginal Cultural Protocols and Practices Policy
Department of Education and Training: Protocol for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country (Endorsed by Aboriginal Education Consultative Group)
Australian Institute Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

8     NOTES

8.1
Contact Officer
Team Leader, Office of Indigenous Strategy.
8.2
Implementation Officer
Director Office of Indigenous Strategy
8.3
Approval Authority / Authorities
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
8.4
Date Approved
4 November 2015
8.5
Date of Commencement
4 November 2015
8.6
Date for Review
November 2018
8.7
Documents Superseded by this Policy
Welcome to Country Policy approved 28 September 2009
8.8
Amendment History
30 May 2017 - corrected spelling of Wattamattagal

PROCEDURE

1     PURPOSE

To identify responsibilities and actions when arranging ceremonies for the recognition of Indigenous people at official events or events where Macquarie University is a sponsor.

2     SCOPE

This procedure applies to all staff and students involved in initiating and hosting official events at all campuses and locations of the University.  It is important to note that different locations and campuses acknowledge different Aboriginal nations. 

3     DEFINITIONS

Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary. Definitions specific to this Procedure are contained in the accompanying Policy.

4     RESPONSIBILITIES AND REQUIRED ACTIONS

EVENT ORGANISER

  • Inform the Office of Indigenous Strategy of the event and receive determination on the most appropriate type of Indigenous ceremony, based on the nature and size of the event.
  • Submit a OneHelp Welcome to Country and other Indigenous Ceremonies service request via http://mq.edu.au/onehelp/
  • Liaise with the Office of Indigenous Strategy regarding arrangements for Welcome to Country (contact Emily Sutton phone 9850 4209 or email emily.sutton@mq.edu.au )  
  • Undertake arrangements for other Indigenous ceremonies
  • Liaise with the Elder arranged by the Office of Indigenous Strategy to provide event details, and to ensure that the arrangements are appropriate.

OFFICE OF INDIGENOUS STRATEGY

  • Consider all Welcome to Country and other Indigenous Ceremonies service requests and advise the Event Organiser of the most appropriate type of ceremony
  • Coordinate arrangements for Welcome to Country ceremonies by:
    • making the initial contact with the Elder or nominated representative
    • providing details of the event (date, time, location, duration)
    • arranging remuneration
    • outlining travel arrangements, parking options
    • arranging with the Event Organiser for someone to meet the Elder or representative
    • undertake standard event briefing processes
  • For other types of ceremonies, advise Event Organiser on appropriate wording or format of the relevant ceremony.

5     RELEVANT LEGISLATION

N/A

6     KEY RELATED DOCUMENTS

Welcome to Country and Other Indigenous Ceremonies Policy

7     NOTES

7.1
Contact Officer
Team Leader, Office of Indigenous Strategy.
7.2
Implementation Officer
Director, Office of Indigenous Strategy
7.3
Approval Authority / Authorities
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
7.4
Date Approved
4 November 2015
7.5
Date of Commencement
4 November 2015
7.6
Date for Review
November 2018
7.7
Documents Superseded by this Procedure
Welcome to Country Procedure approved 28 September 2009
7.8
Amendment History
February 2016 – inclusion of OneHelp reference for submitting requestes
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