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Welcome to Country. What is your custodial responsibility?

Posted by: Gawura on 25th Jul 2016

St Andrews 19 July-2 St Andrews 19 July-8

Welcome to Country. What is your custodial responsibility?

“Connection to Country is crucial to the well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For millennia, when Indigenous people visited the country of others, there would be rituals of welcoming to country. Today, these rituals have a legacy in formal ‘Welcome to Country’.”(1)

The significance of country to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples extends beyond that of identity and includes a custodial responsibility to ensure it ‘continues in proper order and provides physical sustenance and spiritual nourishment”(2) for generations to come.

This custodial responsibility also extends to non-Indigenous Australians. As a non-Indigenous Australian, making an Acknowledgement of Country at the beginning of any meeting or function is one way of fulfilling custodial responsibility.  There is no set wording for an Acknowledgement and you can establish your own wording – it will often include acknowledging the traditional owners/custodians of the land and paying respect to Elders past and present.

As part of Professional Development training in our first week of Term 2, St Andrew’s Cathedral Junior School and Gawura teachers and staff were treated to a face to face session taken from the TAFE course Dturali Win-ngare (to grow with thought) Statement of Attainment in ‘Aboriginal Cultural Education Program for Teachers’. This was delivered by Drew and Jess, teachers from Sydney TAFE – Eora College. We would like to thank Drew and Jess for opening our eyes and minds further to the richness and complexity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. We spent many hours after the course, discussing the intricacies of the world’s oldest living culture and the challenges behind blending the richness and beauty of Indigenous culture with western society.

We look forward to being better historians and better teachers to all our students.

Thank you from the SACS and Gawura communities. We wait in anticipation for the next inspiring session to further deepen our understanding of this magnificent culture.


Did you know that NSW is home to 46% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population – 60% of whom reside in Sydney itself, which is more than WA, SA and NT combined.


  1. “Dturali Win-ngare’  – To Grow With Thought – Statement of Attainment in Aboriginal Cultural Education Program for Teachers” Sydney Eora TAFE. Student Resource Booklet p.6
  2. ibid


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