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Welcome to Country



Waju Nidja Whadjuk Boodja

What’s the difference between a ‘Welcome to Country’ and an ‘Acknowledgement to Country’?

What is a Welcome to Country?

Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been a part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. Despite the absence of fences or visible borders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clans had clear boundaries separating their Country from that of other clans.

Crossing into another tribes Country required a request for permission to enter. When permission was granted the hosting tribe would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage and protection of their spiritual being during the journey. While visitors were provided with a safe passage, they also had to respect the protocols and rules of the land owner’s tribe while on their Country.

Today, much has changed, and these protocols have been adapted to contemporary circumstances. However, the essential elements of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remain in place. A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in traditional language or English. A Welcome to Country is delivered by Traditional Owners.

What’s an Acknowledgement to Country?

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgement of Country, though often a statement may take the following forms:

General: "I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present."

Specific: "I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today, the (people) of the (nation) and pay my respects to Elders past and present."

Similar to a Welcome to Country, an Acknowledgement of Country is generally offered at the beginning of a meeting, speech or formal occasion.

For further information view Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country Protocols

City of Fremantle Statement of Acknowledgement

"We would like to acknowledge this land that we meet on today is the traditional lands of the Whadjuk people and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their country.
We also acknowledge the Whadjuk people as the Traditional Owners of the greater Walyalup area and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still important to the living Whadjuk people today."

Aboriginal terms

Aboriginal: An original inhabitant of the Australian continent and nearby islands. 

Nyoongar: An original inhabitant of the South-West (Jurien Bay to Esperance) of Western Australia that identifies as part of a community which shares a common language (Nyoongar), law and custom. There are 14 identified dialect groups within this Nyoongar region.

Historical People: Includes people living in a particular area, but who do not have ancestral links to the area, or have come from outside the region they live in.

Traditional Owner: A person recognised as a member of a dialect group whose lands lie within the region; that is, they are accepted by the community as belonging to one of the relevant families, primarily though socially validated genealogical connections.

Traditional Owners can ‘talk for country’ by performing a Welcome to Country or Smoking Ceremony and should be consulted about its use.

Whadjuk: is one of 14 dialectal groups of Nyoongar people. Whadjuk is the name of Traditional Owners of the Perth region including Fremantle. Whadjuk People is also the name of the registered Native Title claim 2011. Click here for more information on the Walyalup Aboriginal History. 

Please contact the City on 1300 MYFREO for a list of Whadjuk Traditional Owners. 

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