Traditional Custodians of the Land
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced a long history of exclusion in Australia, and many aspects of First Australians’ cultures have sadly been lost.
As Scouts, we make a promise to live by the Scout Law. One part of the Law reminds us to Be Respectful and Care For Others. Including recognition of Australia’s First Peoples in events, meetings and national symbols is one way for us to help uphold Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and work towards reconciliation.
Incorporating welcoming and acknowledgement protocols into official meetings and events recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the land. It promotes an ongoing connection to place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and shows respect for Traditional Owners.
There are two simple ways we pay respects to Traditional Custodians at the start of our Scouting activities:
Acknowledgement of Country
Words spoken publicly by anyone participating at the start of an activity, meeting, or ceremony.
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’s important to give an Acknowledgement of Country at the start of all Scouting activities and meetings.
You might also like to adapt the Acknowledgment of Country used in the Guide to Ceremonies in Australian Scouting to your local Traditional Owners:
As Scouts of Australia, we acknowledge Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as the Traditional Custodians of this land. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging.
We’re grateful to do our Scouting in this country; we commit to use its resources wisely, and develop our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
We also acknowledge any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scouts who are part of our movement today.
Welcome to Country
A formal welcome given by a Traditional Custodian or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person with specific permission from the Traditional Custodians.
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, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners, to welcome visitors to their Country.
To arrange a Welcome to Country for a special event, contact your local Traditional Custodian group.
Your local council should be able to help you make contact if you’re not sure where to go! Please note, there is often a cost involved.