Paying Respect to the First Peoples of Australia
'An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Similar to a Welcome to Country, an Acknowledgement of Country is generally offered at the beginning of a meeting, speech or formal occasion.' ~ Reconciliation Australia
The Acknowledgement Song was first written on Whadjuk Noongar country with guidance from Elder Aunty Marie Taylor, Noongar language teacher Merinda Hansen and actress, songwriter and activist Della Rae Morrison.
What is an Acknowledgment of Country?
An Acknowledgement of Country is a modern interpretation of a traditional ritual where respect is paid to the First Peoples of the land. It's intertwined with the Welcome to Country ritual, a core part of the diplomacy systems that have existed between First Nations for millennia.
How can we use this song?
The Acknowledgement Song can be sung by everyone in Australia, to show respect for the First Peoples of this country. Before singing this song, please clarify with your local traditional owners, the name of the country you are upon, and change lyrics accordingly. As a reference, you may wish to consult the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia. https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/aiatsis-map-indigenous-australia
When can we sing this song?
The song may be sung as a response to a Welcome to Country given by an Aboriginal Elder or community member. If a Welcome to Country is not presented, the song can still be sung at the beginning of a gathering, however it is preferable that a Welcome to Country has first been extended, because authentically connecting with local First Peoples and building respectful relationships can provide a genuine space for reconciliation and healing.
Who wrote The Acknowledgement Song?
Jemma King is a non-Indigenous woman, born on Whadjuk country in Perth, Western Australia. With a profound respect for First Peoples country and culture, Jemma wrote this song. Always was, always will be. "After listening to many acknowledgements, where well-meaning but nervous people stumbled their way through, I wondered if a song could authentically connect people with their own hearts, and with the hearts of listeners. After all, music connects all peoples. In 2018, The Acknowledgement Song came through me. I consulted Elders and after acting on their advice, I sang the song for the first time on Whadjuk Noongar country of the Bibbulmun nation. Since then it has been sung by people of all ages, across the continent and around the globe. The Acknowledgement Song now has an entire life of its own."