Recognising Traditional Owners

Monash University respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultures. Recognising Traditional Owners is important and all staff and students are encouraged to do so. There are two ways for Monash staff and students to formally recognise Traditional Owners: a Welcome to Country and an Acknowledgement of Country.

Welcome to Country

The Welcome to Country ceremony recognises the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian culture and history, and is a significant customary gesture. Only the Traditional Owners of the land you are standing on can give a Welcome to Country. The ceremony welcomes all people at the event to the land. In turn, attendees are asked to respect the land and traditions of those who walked upon it for centuries before us.

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council (VAHC) advises the University on which groups are appointed particular lands and waters. For this reason, the University regretfully does not currently arrange Welcomes at the Caulfield, Clayton, Berwick and Peninsula campuses. At the Parkville campus, Welcomes should be made by Elders or appointed representatives of the Wurundjeri people. For the time being, please make acknowledgements in place of Welcomes at other Melbourne campuses and sites within the Melbourne CBD.

Acknowledgement of Country

An Acknowledgment of Country allows the wider community (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to show respect for and acknowledge the Traditional Owners; their rich culture, their heritage and their continual relationship with the lands and waters. It demonstrates that we value and recognise the Traditional Owners' customary place within Australian society today.

Anyone can make an Acknowledgement of Country. It does not have to be an Indigenous person and Indigenous people may or may not be present. Most Monash events should begin with an Acknowledgement of Country from the chair or host. He or she may also acknowledge the presence of Elders and community members from other lands/clans.

When do I make an Acknowledgement of Country?

  • When a local traditional Elder is not available to do a Welcome to Country,
  • At any University run/hosted meeting, gathering, seminar, forum, conference or the like,
  • At the beginning of all annual general meetings, council and board meetings.

Who do I Acknowledge?

At Monash University campuses and sites in Melbourne we acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nations. This is inclusive of all groups in the area.  At the Parkville campus, we acknowledge the Wurundjeri people.

What do I say?

For Monash University campuses and sites in Melbourne, the following is suggested:

I wish to acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nations, on whose land we are gathered today. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

Contextualising your Acknowledgement demonstrates a respectful understanding of the importance of Indigenous people, history, cultures and knowledges. Think about the influence and contributions of Indigenous people and cultures in your faculty, area of research, conference topics, etc.

For assistance with context and wording, contact:

Inala Cooper, Yulendj Indigenous Engagement Unit
9902 4038
inala.cooper@monash.edu