I'd like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land known as Australia. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.
This is what is known as an Acknowledgement of Country in Australia, and words to this effect are said by the host at the start of formal meetings. Marion, a good friend of mine who lives in Australia, was telling me about this recently, and I must confess that I was somewhat surprised. I couldn’t believe that this type of acknowledgement – open recognition of past wrongs - was part of workplace protocols.
I left it at that, thinking it couldn’t be widespread, but last night I watched the first episode of MasterChef Australia, and the same acknowledgement appeared in the opening credits.
First Nation people have been experiencing exclusion, discrimination and decimation of their culture for a very long time. These people weren't even classed as human beings when Australia was discovered by the British, so being recognised as the true custodians of the land is an overdue gesture of respect. It does not remedy the wrongs but it acknowledges to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders their rightful status.
As someone who has lived in Australia, I am deeply moved by this Acknowledgement and its layers of meaning. It sends a powerful message to both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. DE&I is all about acknowledging and celebrating difference but, most importantly, it is about giving a sense of belonging.