An ACT Government Website

ACT Government Policy (interim)

The ACT Government recognises the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding region. The Government acknowledges that other people and families also have a traditional connection to the lands of the ACT and region and we respect this connection to country.

In 2002, the Territory acted in good faith on the advice of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to develop its approach to acknowledgement of traditional custodians. The Territory acknowledges the right of Aboriginal people to self-determination and recognises that there is re-emerging knowledge about their history and connections with the land. The Territory acknowledges that those identifying as Ngambri (Kamberri) have determined they are traditional custodians of land within the ACT and surrounding region.

As an initial step in our journey towards healing and Treaty, it is the Territory’s intention to seek community input to any further changes to the protocol through a consultation and engagement process, which is commencing in early 2023.

Welcome to Country protocols

The Government’s policy is that all public speeches by representatives of the ACT Government include an acknowledgement of the traditional custodians. Further, depending on the availability of an Aboriginal community elder or custodian, and the significance of the event, a formal Welcome to Country may be offered.

All major official events, where members of the public, representatives of other Governments and/or the media are present, should include a Welcome to Country ceremony Events in this category may include:

  • commemorations and major festivals
  • major launches of Government policies and programs
  • conferences held or sponsored by the ACT Government
  • international events held in Australia of which the ACT Government is an organiser or sponsor
  • citizenship ceremonies
  • major and international sporting events.

By incorporating Aboriginal cultural practices/ceremonies into official events we are able to:

  • recognise and pay respect to Aboriginal peoples, cultures and heritage
  • communicate Aboriginal cultural practices to the broader community to promote respect and understanding
  • demonstrate that Aboriginal cultures are living through maintenance and practice of ceremonies and protocols
  • demonstrate recognition of Aboriginal people’s unique position which can assist in building relationships and partnerships.

ACT Government employees are encouraged to contact the senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members they have established connections with to organise a Welcome to Country. If further information or guidance is required, please contact the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on 02 6207 9784.

If you cannot arrange for a Traditional Custodian to attend your event, or if your event is considered too small to warrant a formal Welcome to Country, you are encouraged to deliver an acknowledgement of country.

Acknowledgement of Country

Acknowledgments should acknowledge traditional custodians, recognise elders and recognise the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people attending.

The form of words could include the following.

I/We wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region.

I/We wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

I/We would also like to acknowledge and welcome other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be attending today’s event.

Many ACT Government employees have been gifted an acknowledgement in the Ngunnawal language that can be used as an alternative to the above.

Over time, people who regularly provide acknowledgements will develop their own style and approach. Employees who are confident in doing so are encouraged to consider crafting an acknowledgement that reflects the focus of the event.

Fee for service in providing Cultural Services

In providing cultural services such as Welcome to Country, artistic performances and ceremonies Aboriginal people are using their intellectual property. As such providers of these services should be appropriately remunerated.

Appropriate remuneration and/or assistance should be negotiated between the cultural service provider and the agency hosting the event, considering:

  • travel to and from the event; and
  • public profile of the event.

As a general indicator, $350 for a Welcome to Country is appropriate.

Boards and committees

All ACT Boards and Committees should seek to include First Nations membership if appropriate.

Where there is particular need to provide advice to the ACT Government in relation to culture, heritage and 'connection to land' matters, representation from the Ngunnawal community and other people and families with a traditional connection to the ACT will need to be included on the respective board or committee.

The United Ngunnawal Elders Council can be of assistance and can recommend suitable candidates for these appointments and the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, 02 6207 9784 can assist with contact details for other families.

Where the board or committee needs general First Nations representation in the ACT, a representative from the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community should be sought.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, 02 6205 2551 may be consulted to assist with wider community representation. Contact details can be obtained from the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on 02 6207 9784.