Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Cultural heritage and protocols
The Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) is responsible for administering the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and the Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (the Acts).
The main purpose of the Acts is to provide effective recognition, protection and conservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage.
DATSIP maintains the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage database and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage register. The purpose of the database is to assemble information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage in a central and accessible location as a research and planning tool. The database and register each contain different types of information.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage register
The register contains information about cultural heritage studies recorded under Part 6 of the legislation, cultural heritage management plans registered under Part 7 of the legislation, designated landscape area recorded under previous legislation, registered cultural heritage bodies, and details about statutory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parties for an area.
Information in the register is available to any member of the public and is included in the public map which can be freely accessed through the online portal.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage database
The database contains information about cultural heritage sites and places collected over a period of more than 40 years including geographical location details, reports, site cards, images and other documentation.
Information in the database is not available to the general public but can be provided to land users if it is necessary for them to satisfy their cultural heritage duty of care.
Land users seeking to satisfy their duty of care can search both the database and register by submitting a search request form.
For more information visit the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships website.
Cultural protocols refer to the customs, lores and codes that guide the behaviour of a particular cultural group. Protocols are present in all cultures and observing the cultural protocols of a community demonstrates respect for the cultural traditions, history and diversity of that community. It also shows a willingness to acknowledge that the processes and procedures of another cultural community are equally valid and worthy of the same respect as one’s own cultural protocols.
Connection with country is crucial to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and protocols for welcoming visitors to country have been a part of the culture for thousands of years.
Welcome to Country
A “Welcome to Country” or “Traditional Welcome” is where the traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander custodians welcome people to their land at the beginning of a meeting, event or ceremony. This welcome must be conducted by an appropriate person such as a recognised Elder from the local area who is widely recognised as having ancestral connection with the country.
Welcome to Country enables the Traditional Custodians to give their blessing to the event and is an important mark of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australia’s original inhabitants.
There is no exact wording when Welcoming to Country. The content of the ceremony should be negotiated between the agency and the provider with reference to the nature of the event and community practices. Generally, providers offer participants local history and cultural information and will go on to welcome the delegates to the country.
Acknowledgement of Country
An Acknowledgment of Country is a way to show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and the ongoing relationship of traditional owners with the land. A chair or speaker begins the meeting by acknowledging that the meeting is taking place in the country of the traditional custodians of the land.
There is no set wording for and Acknowledgement and it is essential that the choice of words be meaningful to the person making them.
Typical Acknowledgement of Country statements can include:
“I would like to begin by acknowledging the [appropriate name] people who are the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today. I would also like to pay respect to their Elders both past and present and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians who are present.”