The following information is an extract from the website of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
An Acknowledgement of Country is a way that all people can show respect for Aboriginal cultures and heritage and the ongoing relationship the Traditional Owners have with the land.
At the commencement of a meeting or function, a speaker begins by acknowledging that the meeting is taking place in the country of the Traditional Owners. Where the name of the Traditional Owners is known, it is specifically used. Where it is not known, a general acknowledgement is given.
If you are clear about whom the Traditional Owners of an area are, you can say:
"Our meeting/conference/workshop is being held on the traditional lands of the [Traditional Owner group's name] people and I wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Owners. I would also like to pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today."
If you are uncertain about whom the Traditional Owners of an area are, you can say:
"I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today."
WELCOME TO COUNTRY
A Welcome to Country ceremony is performed by Aboriginal Traditional Owners for people visiting their country. These ceremonies vary from speeches of welcome to traditional dance and smoking ceremonies.
It is suggested that a welcoming ceremony be arranged for major public forums and functions. Naturally, if the function has broad impact on, or significance for, Aboriginal people a welcoming ceremony will be appropriate.
Can any Aboriginal person perform a Welcome to Country?
No, a Welcome to Country should only be performed by a representative of the Traditional Owner group. Asking an Aboriginal person to perform a Welcome to Country when they do not belong to the Traditional Owner group may cause them embarrassment and may offend the Traditional Owners.
If your event or functions is in a part of Victoria with a Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP), you should contact the RAP to arrange the Welcome to Country. Contact details can be found on the website of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
If there is uncertainty about the right people to speak for country, it may be preferable to limit your recognition to an acknowledgement of Traditional Owners generally.
Is there a fee for a Welcome to Country?
Most Traditional Owner groups will require at least a nominal fee to cover costs. A Welcome to Country that includes traditional dance and smoking ceremonies will generally involve a more substantial payment.