Heritage

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Welcome to Country

What is a Welcome to Country?

A Welcome to Country ceremony is performed by Aboriginal Traditional Owners for people visiting their Country. These ceremonies vary from speeches of welcome to traditional dance and smoking ceremonies.

When is a Welcome to Country appropriate?

A Welcome to Country ceremony should be arranged for major public events, forums and functions in locations where Traditional Owners have been formally recognised. A welcoming ceremony is also appropriate if the event has broad impact on, or is significant to, Aboriginal people.

Can any Aboriginal person perform a Welcome to Country?

No, a Welcome to Country should be performed by a representative of the relevant Formally Recognised Traditional Owners.

Where there is a Formally Recognised Traditional Owner group, you must only go to this group to organise a Welcome. Otherwise you are undermining the efforts Traditional Owners have made to come together.

- Marcus Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations.

How do I organise a Welcome to Country?

If your event is in a part of Victoria where the Traditional Owners have been formally recognised, you should contact the relevant Formally Recognised Traditional Owner corporation to arrange the Welcome to Country. Contact details can be found in the Table of Formally Recognised Traditional Owner corporations.

What do I do if my event is in an area where the Traditional Owners have not been formally recognised?

If the Traditional Owners have not been formally recognised for the area where your event is taking place, you should limit your recognition to an acknowledgement of Traditional Owners generally, without making a reference to the name of any specific Traditional Owners.

Is there a fee for a Welcome to Country?

Most Traditional Owners will require at least a nominal fee to cover costs. A Welcome to Country that includes traditional dance and smoking ceremonies will generally involve a more substantial payment. Any fees should be agreed with the Traditional Owners when planning the event.

How can I find out who are the Formally Recognised Traditional Owners?

The easiest way to find out who the Formally Recognised Traditional Owners are for an area is to consult the interactive map. 

Map of Formally Recognised Traditional Owners

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