Preface: I’m a privileged white person so I’m not in a position to advise anyone on reconciliation. But I want to help you if you’re thinking about putting an acknowledgement of country on your website. So, I’m sharing my research and approach in the aim of giving you ideas for how you can show respect.
Do you want to put an acknowledgement of country on your website?
Traditionally, welcome to country and acknowledgement of country statements are part of paying respect during events.
You’ve probably heard the process at meetings, conferences, festivals and functions. It’s important to distinguish between Welcome to Country and an Acknowledgement of Country.
- Welcome to Country: only performed by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to welcome guests and help non-indigenous people recognise the culture and history of the local area.
- Acknowledgement of Country: performed by anyone (indigenous or non-indigenous), to show respect to the people, culture and history of the area.
Increasingly, people are adding statements on their websites to pay respects.
But how do you do it, what do you write and where do you put it? Most of the online resources I’ve found are events-driven. So it can be difficult to find out what’s appropriate for putting an Acknowledgement of Country on your website.
Where to put an Acknowledgement of Country on your website
Your footer, about page or perhaps your contact page are good places for putting an acknowledgement of country on your website.
My preferred location is the footer. It appears on every website page. Plus, I wonder about burying it away on the contact page where it is less visible. Otherwise, the about page, or even the home page is a good idea too. It all depends on your website and where you think it’s best.
Adding statements to social media
If you have social media presence for your business, it’s a good idea to include acknowledgements on these sites as well. Most platforms, like LinkedIn and Facebook have an about section. Add it to your Google My Business page too, including specific statements for separate trading locations (if you have them). Instagram is challenging due to the limited characters available in your about panel. You can include a link to the statement from your Instagram landing page, via programs like LinkTree or a simple link back to a landing page own website.
Who to acknowledge in your Acknowledgement of Country website statement
You need to determine if your local area has formally acknowledged its traditional owners. Not all areas of Australia have formally recognised traditional owners yet. So, you’ll need to check in your locality.
There’s a map on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies that indicates the heritage of most locations in Australia. However, it’s unclear if the owners listed on this map have been formally acknowledged. Plus, the map covers all of the country, so it may be difficult to use it to pinpoint the exact location you need. This is especially tricky if you operate outside major cities or towns listed on the map. Or if you’re on the border of a zone.
Another way to find out is to look for resources on Welcome To Country in your state. Of course, these are predominantly for events. However, this can help you accurately determine the traditional elders for your area.
You can also Google ‘traditional owners + your area’. Look for official government websites to be confident in the accuracy of results. You can try your local council or other government websites in your town to see who’s acknowledged.
Resources in your state
ACT: Canberra is Ngunnawal country. ACT Government page
New South Wales: Aboriginal Affairs NSW
Northern Territory: NT Office of Aboriginal Affairs
South Australia: Department of Premier and Cabinet, Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation
Tasmania:Department of Communities, Office of Aboriginal Affairs
Western Australia: Western Australia Government Department of Aboriginal Affairs
If traditional owners have not yet been acknowledged in your area, you should acknowledge owners generally.
If you have different locations of operation, such as offices in different states, or bricks and mortar stores in various locations, you can acknowledge the traditional owners for each location.
Wording the statement for putting an acknowledgement of country on your website
In researching this blog post, I consulted several resources to find tips for appropriate and respectful Welcome to Country statements. I also looked at numerous government websites to see how they word their statements. Using this advice, I crafted the templates I’m sharing below. However, I am not the authority. I have no Indigenous heritage (that I’m aware of).
Some elements to consider when putting an Acknowledgement of Country on your website
- include both Torres Strait Islander and Aborginal Elders
- use a capital on Elders to show respect for their seniority and a capital on Nation
- include a mention of land as well as the people of the land
- if you don’t know the traditional owners, make a general acknowledgement
- in a specific statement, mention both the people and the nation, for example:
- for Melbourne: the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) peoples of the Kulin Nation
- for Sydney: the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation
- in a specific statement, you should acknowledge both the traditional custodians of the land and any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples living and working on the land (the general statement automatically covers them)
- if you have multiple locations, traditional owners may vary, and each group should be acknowledged separately
- use we/I rather than a corporate entity—this is about people showing respect to people
- if you have a reconciliation action plan, link to it within your statement
General acknowledgement of Country website statement
I/we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where I/we work and live. I/We pay my/our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I/we celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.
Specific acknowledgement of Country website statement
I/we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where I/we work and live, the (people) of the (nation) and pay my/our respects to Elders past and present. I/we celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.
If you wish, you can copy the statements I’ve drafted to use on your own site. However, it is your responsibility to check with your local Traditional Owners regarding the respectful wording.
A final word
As a privileged, non-Indigenous person, I’m aware that I’m not the best person to write this blog. I’m not the authority on the subject. I’m writing this to share the research I conducted while putting together my own statement. As a website copywriter, I get clients asking for my advice. So I want to share my methodology. Plus, I’ve included links to authorities who are in a better position to give you advice. It is my wish that you find this information helpful and respectful.