What is an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners?
An Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners can be done by anyone and is a way of showing awareness of, and respect for, the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of the land on which a meeting or event is being held.
When is an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners appropriate?
An Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners should be given at formal events, forums and functions such as Government and Local Government meetings, conferences, school assemblies, concerts, board meetings, and official openings.
The first speaker at an event (following a Welcome or in the absence of a Welcome) should give the Acknowledgment of Traditional Owners.
Subsequent speakers may also give an Acknowledgement.
What form should the Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners take if the Victorian Government has formally recognised the Traditional Owners of the relevant area?
If the Victorian Government has formally recognised the Traditional Owners for the area where your event is taking place, you should specifically acknowledge those Traditional Owners. An example of such an acknowledgement is provided below:
'Our meeting/conference/workshop is being held on the lands of the [Traditional Owner's name] people and I wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Owners.
I would also like to pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.'
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 land on which your event is taking place, you should acknowledge Traditional Owners generally, without making a reference to the name of any specific Traditional Owners. An example of such an acknowledgement is provided below:
'I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.'
Currently there are no Formally Recognised Traditional Owner groups for approximately 37.5 % of Victoria. In these areas the Victorian Government provides processes and support for Traditional Owner groups to negotiate agreements and progress towards formal recognition. A general, rather than specific, acknowledgement respects the further work required in these areas.
In areas where Traditional Owners have not been formally recognised, it is important your acknowledgment pays respect to the Traditional Owners of the land generally.
Are the names of Formally Recognised Traditional Owner corporations the names of the Traditional Owner groups?
All Formally Recognised Traditional Owners are represented by Traditional Owner corporations. There are currently 11 Formally Recognised Traditional Owner corporations covering approximately 75% of the State.
It is the Traditional Owners who should be acknowledged, rather than the corporation representing the Traditional Owners.
In some cases Formally Recognised Traditional Owners have incorporated their name into that of their corporation. Other corporations use names that do not include the name of the Traditional Owners they represent.
Once you find the name of the Formally Recognised Traditional Owner corporation on the map, cross check it with the table below to find the Traditional Owner name.
Formally Recognised Traditional Owner corporations and Traditional Owner names
Acknowledgements in plaques, signs, and email signatures
The acknowledgement of Formally Recognised Traditional Owners on plaques, signs, and email signatures should follow the same steps as an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners.
You should cross-check the location of the plaque, sign, or building with the map to see if there is a Formally Recognised Traditional Owner corporation for that place.
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.
Reviewed 05 October 2021