Welcome to Country


What is ‘Welcome to Country’?

The Welcome to Country ceremony acknowledges and recognises the rights of the traditional land owners. Its purpose is to respectfully acknowledge the past and present peoples on whose land you may be visiting and give visitors safe passage.

The format and duration of the ceremony is at the discretion of the ceremony provider i.e. a local elder or traditional knowledge holder, in consultation with the school requesting the ceremony. The ceremony provider will be a person with specific knowledge about the place where a meeting or event is to take place and its cultural significance. They will incorporate the purpose of the meeting or event into the delivery of their Welcome to Country. Welcome to Country should be used at all large scale school community events e.g. whole school assemblies, public performances, festivals, exhibition opening etc.

Acknowledgement of Country

When school communities host events such as internal school meetings, or small scale professional learning workshops etc., it is appropriate for non-Aboriginal people to show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, and the ongoing relationship of traditional owners with the land, by providing an ‘Acknowledgement of Country’.

The wording schools or artists use in this instance will be dependent on the location of the event. For example, an Acknowledgement of Country at the beginning of an event held in the Perth metropolitan area should include the words, “I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Noongar people, the traditional owners and custodians of the land we are meeting on today,” or similar. See further information in protocol resources below.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies - Aboriginal Australia Map
NAIDOC - Indigenous Australia flags

Protocol resources:

Mobile device applications:

  • Welcome to Country for iPhone – created by Weerianna Street Media (Western Australia) - delivers a simple Welcome to Country video introduction to Australian Indigenous culture, including basic cultural protocols that are tribal boundary geo-specific.

When educators are researching Indigenous content and contacts for educational purposes, a useful starting point may be a local Aboriginal Corporation.  Sometimes there are a number of corporations in one area, but there is usually one that is most appropriate to your needs.  Such an organisation may be able to introduce you to key people and Elders, and provide information about local resources, local history, significant sites, languages and traditions.

Local Government are often able to assist in this process as well, although nothing is as valuable as one-to-one meetings with relevant officers, and over a period of time, to establish rapport and get to know local protocols.

Aboriginal Corporations in Western Australia:

School contacts:

Make contact with the Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer (AIEO) or Aboriginal Liaison Officer at the school if you are an artist visiting country. They will be able to tell you about the community and introduce you if necessary. They may also be able to act as an Indigenous facilitator in workshops, make sure that students understand you and you are getting your message across. See more information about working in ATSI communities.  

Warning. Information in this section of the ArtsEdge website may contain the names, images or recordings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. The ArtsEdge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture in education portal may also contain links to sites that may use images and/or recordings of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased. Artists or educators researching Indigenous content for educational purposes should use their discretion when viewing online content.

Details about artists and organisations outside the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries do not constitute an endorsement of those artists or organisations or their programs, products or services. School communities are responsible for making their own assessment of these artists or organisations in accordance with relevant Department of Education policies, procedures and guidelines. Users should seek professional and specialised advice for their individual situations.