Acknowledgment of Country
PaddleNSW acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, waterways, culture and community. As an organisation and as a paddling community we pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.
- Reconciliation Action Plan
- PNSW Indigenous Advisor
- Marathon Series First Nations Round
- PNSW Indigenous Artwork & Suppliers
- Understanding Cultural Differences
- Welcome & Acknowledgement of Country at PNSW and Club events
- Indigenous Weather & Seasons
- Dates of Significance to NSW Aboriginal People
- Resources For Clubs
What is a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)?
A RAP is a strategic document that helps organisations to build respectful relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and foster opportunities in diversity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment and cultural learning.
While any organisation, community group or individual can take action toward reconciliation, Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) framework is specifically designed for workplaces.
Indigenous man, Joshua Maguire will be providing advice on the RAP application process.
The PNSW RAP Committee
Members of Paddle NSW from different disciplines and areas and club locations are represented on the RAP Working Group. All are committed to being a positive force for changing the culture, work practices and core business of our organisation
- Darren Forbes from Newy Paddlers (chair)
- Annette Mathews from PNSW and Sutherland Shire Canoe Club / Dolls Point Paddlers
- Peter Tate from PNSW
- Rozanne Green from Sydney Harbour Surf Club
Proud Biripi man Darren Forbes, was appointed as the Indigenous Advisor to PaddleNSW in 2021. He is also a member of the PNSW Diversity & Inclusion Committee, the Harbour Racing Committee and the Club Exec Working Group.
Supported by the RAP Committee, Darren is developing the PNSW Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and initiating opportunities for other projects such as Indigenous Awareness Rounds within our PNSW Harbour Series and PNSW Marathon Series.
If you have any concerns or simply wish to discuss anything in relation to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders, please contact Darren (Dazza) Forbes.
PaddleNSW, through its Reconciliation Action Plan, is committed to greater promotion and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the sport of paddling.
An important step of this active commitment is the introduction of indigenous awareness rounds in our respective PNSW Harbour Racing, Marathon & Sprint Series.
PaddleNSW is proud and delighted to announce that the inaugural First Nations Marathon Round will be hosted by the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club on Saturday 24 June.
The race will start and end at the park named in honour of Aboriginal activist, actor and writer, Burnum Burnum at Woronora. The course will enable paddlers and spectators to experience the beauty of the Woronora River, a waterway of significance to the Dharawal speaking people.
While the event takes place after National Reconciliation Week, 27 May to 3 June, PNSW hopes that it is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
PaddleNSW is proud to work with Indigenous artist Kate Forbes-Walker and the @Malang Indigenous Corporation to produce caps and banners to mark the occasion.
Paddlers can register for this race via webscorer.
Contact Sutherland Shire Canoe Club or PaddleNSW if you want to learn more about this event or our Reconciliation Action Plan.
PaddleNSW would like to acknowledge the work of the following Indigenous artists. We thank you for sharing your artwork with us.
Kate Forbes-Walker is a proud Biripi women born and raised on Awabakal country. She is a proud mum to two amazing jarjums. Kate has been painting on and off all her life but after becoming a mum, art allowed her the chance to process and share her feelings and life experiences while maintaining and sharing her cultural connection.
PaddleNSW is proud to work with Indigenous artist Kate Forbes-Walker and the Malang Indigenous Corporation to produce these caps and banners.
An Ancient Story
“The land is the mother, and we are of the land; we do not own the land rather the land owns us. The land is our food, our culture, our spirit, and our identity.”
Dennis Foley, a Gai-mariagal and Wiradjuri man, and Fulbright scholar.
Source: Welcome To Country
Always was – Always will be Aboriginal Land
(Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have NEVER relinquished Sovereignty of OUR LANDS)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have maintained connections to their traditional lands and territories for thousands of years. This connection to Country is a crucial element of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures which dates back at least 60,000 years and continues to have an important place in Australian society today.
Although Australia is considered a single continent, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures have developed into many different nations, with distinct languages, cultures and belief systems.
Understanding Cultural Differences
All human cultures have an ancient background, and from that we find a meaning to our natural world around us. For first nations peoples it is our animals and plants, rivers and rocks, and everything that surrounds us, it is the way we live as people, our spirituality. Our understanding of spirit, it is everything, everywhere all the time. We feel it, it exists in the spaces around us and through our own practices and framework such as rituals and ceremonies we find a way to connect these intangibles to our everyday life.
Ceremony is present in all cultures, births, deaths, marriages, it’s a part of recognising certain stages of people’s lives. Sometimes though, in our own cultures, we take it for granted that others understand, but when we look at other cultures, we often do not understand the whole picture of what is happening. We see that when white Australia looks at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, they wonder what is going on there.
In white Australia, ceremonies exist for many and different reasons, the same applies to first nations peoples and our ceremonies are sometimes very much aligned, just in a different context.
Content provided by Darren Forbes
Uluru Statement from the Heart
|The Uluru Statement from the Heart, with signatures of those who attended the National Convention, is an expression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander desires for substantive reform to the Australian Constitution. There are three core components to the Uluru Statement From the Heart: Voice, Treaty and Truth.|
Welcome To Country
Take for example Welcome to Country, when you crossed into another mob’s country, there was ceremony that had to happen, because you are going off your country onto someone else’s. It is a celebration, and invitation to say it is ok, you are welcome. In white Australian culture it is like having someone walk on private property, you cannot simply walk on another person’s property without permission. When we see the context in modern society now, we don’t simply come into someone’s home as if we own it, we show respect to the place that we are visiting, we would ask permission to enter.
This is no different to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, asking an Elder or person from that country to welcome someone is standard practice. This enables the visitor to understand that they are coming onto someone else’s country, and they are saying that they respect their Lore, their customs, their rules and protocols whilst on their country.
Every culture has a way of acknowledging their ancestors, for example through family genealogy to the acknowledgement of ANZAC day. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have an extremely strong connection to their ancestors through their country, this is where they are born, live, and die and therefore remain always connected to Country no matter where we are. They are the trees, animals, rocks, all parts of Country, that is why it is important to pay respects to Elders past and present, they were here before us and it is a way of saying thank you from the beginning of time till today. They are always with us, always present.
Acknowledgement of Country
An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Custodians and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to that Country. An Acknowledgement of Country can be a way of showing awareness of, and respect for, the Traditional Custodians of the land upon which a meeting or event is to take place. Its purpose is to recognise the continuing connection of Aboriginal people to Country, and is commonly delivered by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Protocol is to ask an Aboriginal or Torres Strait person to perform the acknowledgement, if not anyone can perform the acknowledgment.
We must be respectful though of Indigenous concerns about token gestures, empty rhetoric and performative aspects of acknowledgments given Australia has failed to address unfinished business, implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart, or contemplate treaties or reparations. Therefore it is important to research who’s land you are on, plan it in advance of the event you are holding, contact Local Aboriginal Land Councils (L.A.L.C’s) to gather information and the correct protocols.
Say it from the heart, not merely because it is expected.
Tips for an Acknowledgement of Country
Below I have compiled a selection of examples from which you can choose a text that suits your needs. Here are some tips for the wording of an Acknowledgement of Country:
- ‘Custodians’ or ‘owners’? Both terms are in use. ‘Custodians’ reminds of the ongoing obligation to look after country, and that Aboriginal people don’t own the land, but it owns them. ‘Owner’ reminds that their land was never formally ceded to anyone and of Australia’s history of denying ownership and Aboriginal people’s sovereignty over their lands.
Some Aboriginal organisations refer to ‘traditional owners’ (TOs) themselves while others dislike the term. A descendant of the Aboriginal people of the Mackay Region told me that he “prefer[s] to be identified as a Traditional Custodian and not a Traditional Owner as I do not own the land but I care for the land.”
- Include both groups.Always use “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders” to include both distinct First Nations groups.
- Know the nation.Research the correct First Nation on whose ground you do the acknowledgement.
- Practice pronunciation.The spelling of a First Nation and the pronunciation of the word can be vastly different to common English pronunciation rules. If unsure contact your nearest L.A.L.C.
- Respect Elders.I’ve capitalised “Elders” as a sign of respect.
- Include land.Always include a reference to Aboriginal land.
- Be personal.I’ve used “I” rather than the organisation’s name, or “we”, to make the acknowledgement more personal. (It’s a single person speaking, after all.)
Source: Welcome to Country & Acknowledgement of Country – Creative Spirits, retrieved from https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/spirituality/welcome-to-country-acknowledgement-of-country#acknowledgement-of-country.
Examples of Welcome to Country:
There are three types of Acknowledgement of Country:
Generic — this should be used if you don’t know the name of the people on whose land you are gathered, or if there are disputes about the land (multiple Aboriginal peoples identify as Traditional Custodians for that area). The words are:
‘I begin today by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we <gather/meet> today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.’
Specific — this should be used where there are no disputes and you know the name of the people on whose land you are gathered. The words are:
‘I begin today by acknowledging the <insert name of people here (e.g. Ngunnawal)> people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we <gather/meet> today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.’
General (Australia wide – webinar / website / printed material) – The words are:
‘In the spirit of reconciliation, the [organisation] acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.’
If you have any concerns or simply wish to discuss anything in relation to the above content or related to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders, please contact Darren (Dazza) Forbes at: email@example.com
Content provided by Darren Forbes
Indigenous Weather & Seasons
Indigenous Artist: Darren Forbes
The Indigenous Weather Knowledge website was launched by the Bureau of Meteorology in 2002 as a joint partnership between the Bureau, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and Monash University’s Centre for Indigenous Studies. The website is a formal recognition of traditional weather and climate knowledge that has been developed and passed down through countless generations by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Through the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website, the Bureau is working with communities that wish to record and share valuable seasonal and environmental information and traditional knowledge.
How can we use information about Indigenous weather and seasons?
Mentioning the season when you do an Acknowledgement of Country at your club and events is another way to demonstrate your respect for the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, play and paddle.
Dates of Significance
26 January – Australia Day / Survival Day
While January 26 is a day of celebration for many Australians, it’s a day of mourning for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. January 26 marks the day that New South Wales was established as a colony in 1788. We at DCJ are sensitive to the fact that for many people in NSW, January 26 is a day of contemplation that marks the survival of Aboriginal Peoples, cultures and traditions.
12 February – The Freedom Ride
On 12 February 1965, University of Sydney students inspired by equal rights activism in the United States started a bus tour of western and coastal NSW with three key goals in mind:
draw attention to the poor state of Aboriginal health, education and housing
focus and attention on the social discrimination experienced by Aboriginal people to effect positive change
encourage and support Aboriginal people themselves to resist discrimination.
The Freedom Ride was led by Charles Perkins, an Arrente man born in Alice Springs who dedicated his life to advocating for Aboriginal rights. The Freedom Ride has an important place in the history of Australia and is remembered every February for fostering Aboriginal activism and raising much needed public attention on issues Aboriginal people continue to face today.
13 February – Anniversary of the Apology (2008)
Anniversary of the formal apology made by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on behalf of the Parliament of Australia, on 13 February 2008 to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the forced removal of children from their parents and community over generations.
The Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples page- external sitelaunch on the Australian Government website provides a link to a video of the National Apology made in 2008 by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd including accessible versions. Web visitors will also find the full text or transcript of the National Apology.
15 March – National Close the Gap Day
National Close the Gap Day is an annual event held to raise awareness about the differences in the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10–17 years less than other Australians. Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
The National Close the Gap Day is an initiative of the Close the Gap campaign. The Close the Gap campaign is a social justice campaign launched by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and general non-government organisations that helps shape government policy and action to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal people around the country.
What is Closing the Gap?
Closing the Gap is the Australian Government strategy in response to the Close the Gap campaign, and includes policy responses broader then health, including education and economic development.
5 April – Bringing them home
On 5 April 1997, ‘Bringing them home’ was launched as the final report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.
The final report holds and honours the many personal stories shared by members of the Stolen Generations with the inquiry. The report is a tribute to the strength and resilience of many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people adversely affected by forcible removal. We remember and acknowledge the sorrow of all the children who will never come home – for them, their parents, their communities and all Aboriginal people.
26 May – National Sorry Day
National Sorry Day in 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of this special Australia-wide commemoration acknowledging more than 150 years of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and culture and to think about the victims of these misguided actions by government.
Holding a National Sorry Day was one of the recommendations made by the 1997 Bringing Them Home inquiry. The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May, 1998.
National Sorry Day helps people come together to reflect on the past but also talk about what is needed to bring healing to the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.
27 May – Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum
In 1967, after 10 years of campaigning, a referendum was held to change the Australian Constitution. The result was the removal of two negative references to Aboriginal Australians giving the Commonwealth the power to legislate for them as a group. This change was seen by many as a recognition of Aboriginal people as full Australian citizens.
27 May – 3 June – Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week was initiated in 1996 to provide a special focus for nationwide activities all Australians can take part in to promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The dates of 27 May to 3 June encompass important milestones, namely the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.
Reconciliation Australia describes the week as a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.
The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2022 is ‘Be Brave. Make Change’. It is a challenge to us all to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for all.
For more information, visit Reconciliation Australia
3 June – Mabo Day
Mabo Day marks the anniversary of the High Court of Australia’s judgement in 1992 in the Mabo case, that Australia was not ‘Terra Nullius’ (no mans land) when British colonists arrived in 1788. This is a day of particular significance for Torres Strait Islander people, but also for Aboriginal people too as the decision opened up a new wave of land rights.
2 – 9 July 2023 – NAIDOC Week
NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.
Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal rights groups in the 1920′s that sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
To find out more, visit the NAIDOC Week website.
4 August – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
Children’s Day and the week leading up to it, is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. The day is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that community, culture and family play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child.
To find out more, visit the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day website.
13 September – Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during its 61st session at UN Headquarters in New York City on 13 September 2007. The Australian Government gave its support on 3 April 2009.
Contact NSW Aboriginal Land Council to ensure you find the correct people to talk to:
NSW Aboriginal land Council – Contact details
Level 6, 33 Argyle St,
Parramatta NSW 2150
PO Box 1125
Parramatta NSW 2124
Ph: 02 9689 4444