Acknowledgement of Country

Guidelines for JCU staff and students

Suggested wording

An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is a way of showing awareness of and respect of the Traditional Owners of the land on which a meeting or event is taking place.

At the event, the speaker giving the Acknowledgment of Country may be an Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander from another community, or not identify with either of these cultures. They should begin their proceedings by offering an Acknowledgment of Country. The Chair or MC of the event is usually the appropriate person to acknowledge the Traditional Owners.

An Acknowledgment of Country, sometimes called an Acknowledgment of Traditional Owners, allows people who are not Traditional Owners to pay respect to the fact that they are on Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander land, and recognise the continuing connection of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their Country. This Acknowledgement can occur with or without a Welcome to Country and/or when a smaller or less formal gathering is taking place.

If a Traditional Owner (TO) happens to be present, that person is invited to give a Welcome to Country by the Chair or MC. If a Traditional Owner is not present, then the first speaker, usually the MC must acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where the event is taking place.

If you have organised a Welcome to Country, then once the Welcome to Country is complete, the MC will thank the Elder for welcoming them to Country and then give an Acknowledgment of Country. Subsequent speakers may also choose to give an Acknowledgment of Country.

When to include an Acknowledgement of Country at JCU

Examples of when you would give an Acknowledgment of Country at JCU as a mark of respect for the owners of the land on which the event is taken place include:

  • At the beginning of every semester for each new subject
  • Chair of Committees at the first meeting of the year
  • Significant meetings, conferences and forums with a range of internal and external stakeholders present
  • All the events listed where a Welcome to Country is given.

You are encouraged to create your own words that reflect how you feel about being on the land of Australia’s Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples, or you can also use the below examples which have been approved by JCU’s Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group. You will also find many other examples throughout the internet.

Make every attempt to determine the name of the Traditional Owners in preparation for an event, but if you are uncertain a general acknowledgement is acceptable.

Names of Traditional Owner Groups

CairnsDjabugay (pronounced Japurkai) and
Yirrijandji (pronounced Irrikandji) and
Gimuy Yidinji (pronounced Goomeye Yidinji)
MackayYuibera (pronounced Youberra)
Mount IsaKalkadoon (pronounced Kalka-doon)
Thursday IslandKaurareg (pronounced Car-ra-reg)
TownsvilleBindal (pronounced Bin-dul) and 
Wulgurukaba (pronounced Wulga-Rooka-Ba)

Suggested wording

Spoken acknowledgement

I acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of this country and pay my respects to the Traditional Owners and Elders, past and present, of the land on which we stand today, the [INSERT NAME(S) OF TRADITIONAL OWNER GROUPS*] people. 

In the spirit of reconciliation, I also acknowledge the valuable contribution that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to make to James Cook University and the broader community.

Printed or online acknowledgement

To include an Acknowledgment on a printed document, ideally it should be placed on the inside front cover, standing alone, in a place of significance.

At James Cook University we acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this nation. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses and study centres are located and where we conduct our business. We pay our respects to ancestors and Elders, past, present and future. JCU is committed to honouring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas and their rich contribution to JCU and society.

Website acknowledgement

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.