“I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land. I’d also like to pay respects to elders past, present and emerging.”
We’ve heard this introduction hundreds of times at schools, meetings, events and more. It’s the standard and widely used template for an Acknowledgment of Country. However, do you know why it’s important? How to do one and that it doesn’t have to follow the above script verbatim?
Not to be mistaken with Welcome to Country, Acknowledgment of Country is a way to demonstrate our recognition and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and land. It’s also one way all individuals can help Australia progress towards reconciliation.
In this insightful episode of Commical, Marie is joined by Rhys Paddick, an Aboriginal educator from Wuddjuk Noongar Country. Tune in for a fresh perspective on how we can express our respects. Rhys provides valuable guidance on how to write an Acknowledgment of Country and present it authentically.
What’s the right way to write and present an Acknowledgment of Country?
At its core Acknowledgment of Country is a recognition of people, place and land. Rhys hilariously explains that it can be applied to different contexts – from a Zoom business meeting on the software of the Silicon Valley people, to a school assembly on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land. With consideration of this basic sentiment, we should approach Acknowledgment of Country with an open mind.
While we’re used to hearing the standard template, there’s actually no one right way to present an Acknowledgment of Country. Rhys encourages us to look within and be much more personal and ambitious in how we articulate our connection to country. Our own history and links to the land are actually very relevant when preparing an Acknowledgment.
Rhys also warns of the risk of tokenising this traditional custom. Acknowledgment of Country should not be reduced to something that ‘must’ be said to tick a box at an event. Don’t be afraid to step aside from the usual and do it your way. True respect lies in our genuine consideration of land, and authentic recognition of its traditional owners.
About Rhys Paddick
Rhys Paddick is an Aboriginal educator, presenter and artist. An advocate of cultural leadership, Rhys hopes to bring a modern adaptation of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the wider Australian forum. He is committed to providing unique and meaningful education on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and culture.
Rhys began his career working with Aboriginal youth. Over the past 12 years, he has worked with approximately 10,000 students through high school roles, mentoring programs, keynote speaking events, training and art workshops. Rhys can be booked for school talks and workshops through Nudge Productions.
Rhys is also the co-founder of Acknowledge This! – an organisation delivering online and in-person workshops on how to give an authentic Acknowledgment of Country.
Follow Rhys on Instagram.
Fusing communication expertise and stand-up comedy makes for a unique take on a business podcast, and very easy listening. Commical explores a range of interpersonal, group and mass communication topics through the experiences of my talented guests.
Light in tone, heavy in value – download now from all good podcast apps or listen online now.