Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not a homogenous group but are as diverse at the peoples of Europe and Asia in languages, cultures and belief systems.
Australia’s Indigenous peoples are direct descendants of hundreds of different Indigenous language groups and Aboriginal countries in Australia, each with their own particular place referred to as “my Country”, “my mother’s Country” or “my father’s Country”. In saying this, we are referring to land known as Country with which each family or language group has held traditional custodianship and responsibilities that have been passed down through hundreds of generations over many, many thousands of years.
We have held these responsibilities to our lands to ensure their spiritual, cultural and economic survival since time began. The land is the source of our identity. Although nowadays many of us may no longer live on our traditional lands and Country, we are still very much connected to it.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the original owners/custodians of the lands and most importantly, we are the first Australians. It is important that this unique position is recognised and included as part of official proceedings and events. This can be done with a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country ceremony.
Aunty Joan is the Elder in Residence at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology Sydney. This is an edited version of her Acknowledgement of Country at Annual Conference. It can be viewed in full at youtu.be/b6w4-fNK1R4.