Wyndham City Council would like to pay respect and acknowledge the Bunurong and Wadawurrung People’s as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Wyndham Council is located.

The Wyndham area is rich and diverse in its Aboriginal history and was known to be inhabited by the tribes of the Kulin Nation. There are five different language groups in the Kulin Nation that are particular to this region.

These groups operated within their own tribal boundaries. However, with the shifting of natural boundaries over the years and the growth of Australia’s population, the old tribal boundaries are not so widely known. The collective traditional territory for the tribes of the Kulin Nation extends around Port Phillip and Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys.

RAP

For more information visit Victoria's Current Registered Aboriginal Parties 

What is Kulin Nation?

The Kulin Nation refers to an alliance of five Aboriginal tribes in south central Victoria.

The collective traditional territory for the tribes of the Kulin Nation extends around Port Phillip and Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys..

Below is a listing of the language groups and the tribes associated with that language group.

  • Woiwurrung (Woy-wur- rung) – The Wurundjeri People
  • Boonrwrung (Bun-er- rung) – The Bunurong or Boonerwrung People
  • Wathaurrung (Wath-er- rung) – The Wathaurong People
  • Daungwurrung (Tung-ger- rung) – TheTaungurong People
  • Dja Dja Wrung (Jar-Jar wrung) – The Dja Dja Wurrung or Jaara People.

Who are Traditional Owners?

Traditional Owners have the right to perform ceremonies, provide advice on cultural heritage matters,

conduct business on behalf of Traditional Owners of the area and form a Registered Aboriginal Party.

Traditional Ownership is a concept utilised by State and Territory Governments of Australia in order to

determine who has the right to form a Registered Aboriginal Party.

A Traditional Owner can be an individual, a group and/or an organisation as well as a Registered

Aboriginal Party (RAP) organisation.

Who are the Registered Aboriginal Parties for the Wyndham region?

For the Eastern side of the Werribee River, the Bunurong Land Council is the Registered Aboriginal Party.

On the Western side of the Werribee River the Registered Aboriginal Party is the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

How do I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Wyndham?

Bunurong – East of the Werribee River

If you are located on the eastern side of the Werribee River, the Bunurong people should be acknowledged. The Bunurong Land Council can be contacted to perform ceremonies, provide advice on cultural heritage matters and conduct business on behalf of the Bunurong people.

Example of Acknowledgement of Country Bunurong

We meet here today at (insert meeting place) and I would like to acknowledge the Bunurong people as the Traditional Custodians of this land. We also acknowledge their neighbours the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay respect to Ancestors and Elders who always have, and always will, care for Country and community today and for future generations.

Wadawurrung – West of the Werribee River

If you are located on the western side of the Werribee River you acknowledge the Wadawurrung people. Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. can be contacted to perform ceremonies, provide advice on cultural heritage matters and conduct business on behalf of the Wadawurrung people.

Example of Acknowledgement of Country Wadawurrung

We meet here today at (insert meeting place) and I would like to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of this land. We also acknowledge their neighbours the Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. We pay respect to Ancestors and Elders who always have, and always will, care for Country and community today and for future generations.

Example - Acknowledgement of Country Bunurong & Wadawurrung

I would like to acknowledge the Bunurong and Wadawurrung people of the Kulin Nation as Traditional Custodians of the lands on which Wyndham is being built. I pay respect to Ancestors and Elders who always have, and always will, care for Country and community today and for future generations.

I acknowledge any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in this tradition and call us to shared responsibility. May our words and actions lead us to respect Country, learn from Elders and practice creative wisdom for future generations.

If you are unsure of whom to acknowledge you can always pay respect to the local Aboriginal community by acknowledging “the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet.”

What is a Welcome to Country?

A Welcome to Country is a formal ceremony intended to introduce and recognise the cultural significance of the surrounding area to a particular Aboriginal clan or language group who are recognised as the Traditional Custodians of the land.  A Welcome to Country is given by an Elder, Traditional Custodian or a recognised spokesperson who has been given permission by the Traditional Custodians to welcome visitors to their Country.

A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event, meeting or speech and can take many forms including smoking ceremonies, singing, dancing or a story in language.

What is an Acknowledgement to Country?

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to introduce and recognise the Traditional Custodians of the land, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An Acknowledgement of Country can be given by any person, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgement of Country and like a Welcome to Country, an Acknowledgement of Country is offered at the beginning of a meeting, conference, forum, official and formal events.

The first speaker at an event or function (following the welcome or in the absence of a welcome) should give the Acknowledgment of Country. Subsequent speakers may also give an acknowledgement if they choose to.

Why is a Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country Important?

An Acknowledgement of Country recognises that Wyndham has a strong and proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history dating back thousands of years. Ensuring that welcoming and acknowledgement protocols are included in meetings and official events shows respect and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, the meaning of Country goes beyond ownership or connection to land.

What is the difference between Traditional Owners and Traditional Custodians?

These terms are used interchangeably. The word 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. The word Custodian reminds of the ongoing obligation to care for country and that Aboriginal people don’t own the land, but it owns them.

Aboriginal people may prefer to refer to themselves as Custodians. State and Territory Governments will typically refer to Traditional Owners.

Where can I go to access further information about the local Aboriginal people and tribes of the Wyndham region?

It is important to remember that there is a wide diversity of Aboriginal people living in any Australian community. To build a better understanding of Wyndham’s Aboriginal community a good starting place could be researching the Kulin Nation and the tribes associated with that.

The Wyndham Libraries website has information about Wyndham’s Aboriginal past and history. The local government website Maggolee - Here in this Place, Local Government and Aboriginal Communities Working Together has useful content. You can also utilise the number of links on this page to some Aboriginal organisations for further information. The Census website may be another useful site.

Explore Aboriginal History of Wyndham

Does Wyndham have any Cultural Heritage Officers?

In line with the current development of the new 2022-2024 Reconciliation Action Plan, this is currently under review. Cultural Heritage is managed by Council’s Planning & Building Department. Aboriginal Cultural Heritage matters are contracted to Aboriginal organisations and contractors.

Related sites

Bonmarart Leewik - Resource - stories of people, places & events that have helped shape the Western Suburbs Aboriginal Community

Deadly Western Connections

 

**The word tribe has been used to describe a group of Aboriginal people.  Aboriginal language is known to not be recorded in the written word sense.  Words from the English language have an English definition/meaning/translation as defined in a dictionary and they are not traditional in an Aboriginal cultural sense, including the word tribe.  For the point of this exercise the word tribe has been used in the absence of a more suitable substitute**

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