Introduction, Welcome and Why Acknowledgment is important

First and foremost, welcome! By being with us today and making that commitment to learn, you are growing in more ways than one. Throughout this course you will learn invaluable, intrinsic tools and techniques that will help you gain more self-awareness that will help you build a better workplace at your Liebherr work site.

This course has been developed by Diversity Focus in Western Australia who has been externally contracted by Liebherr. The purpose is to provide educational information on foundational concepts regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This course consists of three separate modules (approximately 30-minutes each) which will cover different, interrelated topics, and has been designed to prompt self-reflection to frame learning. This is Module 1 of the course.

An Acknowledgement of Country is a way to acknowledge and pay respect to First Nations peoples as the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land. This is an important gesture because it prompts people to pause and reflect on the cultural and historical origins of the land on which we live, and the ways in which the Traditional Custodianship serves to promote caring for Country and community. It is an important grounding act with which to commence significant events, gatherings, or moments, but can continue to be reflected upon at any time in your personal and professional lives.

Acknowledgements are often made at the start of an event – such as a meeting, speech or formal occasion. An acknowledgement can be made by anybody – First Nations or non-Indigenous people. An Acknowledgement of Country will often highlight the unique position of First Nations peoples in the context of culture and history, and their intimate relationship with or connection to Country, including the land, sea and sky.

There are many ways to make an Acknowledgement of Country. It can be spoken, written, or signed (such as with Auslan – Australian sign language). The words can vary and people are encouraged to do an Acknowledgement in a way that is personal and specific to place. It’s easy to copy an already scripted Acknowledgement, but it’s more meaningful to write one in your own voice.

It is also important to note that an Acknowledgement of Country is not the same as a Welcome to Country, and there are cultural protocols for these. A Welcome to Country is a ceremony that may only be provided by an Indigenous person who has traditional ties to that specific place or area and permission to do so, such as an Elder. It recognises the rights of the Indigenous peoples of that local area or region, and may also involve the sharing of personal family stories, histories, songs, dance, other cultural elements, and continuing connections to Country.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has published a map to help you identify the Traditional Owners of the land you live (for Australian residents).

Map source: David R Horton (creator), AIATSIS, 1996.

Acknowledgement Considerations

  • Name and acknowledge the specific Country / Nation / language group.
  • Identify the Traditional Custodians and their continued connection to their land/s.
  • Thank the Traditional Custodians for caring for Country for thousands of generations and continuing to do so.
  • Make your Acknowledgement specific to place: are you on desert Country? Are you on an island? Do you know the traditional place-name of the city, town or site you are on? Are there any nearby sites or landmarks with traditional names you can mention?
  • Pay respect to the Elders and Ancestors of the Country you are on, and also to any First Nations people present or listening.
  • Recognise that First Nations sovereignty was never ceded. This continent always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

Credits: Common Ground