Victoria University (VU) acknowledges, honours, recognises and respects the Ancestors, Elders and families of the Boonwurrung, Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) and Wadawurrung (Wathaurung) people of the Kulin Nation on our Melbourne Campuses (further information provided on campus location and Traditional Owners below), and the Gadigal and Guring-gai people of the Eora Nation on our Sydney Campus. These groups are the custodians of University land and have been for many centuries.

It is important that staff, students and visitors understand and respect the significance of recognising the traditional owners of University land. This is important because ‘White Australia has a Black History’ (see sidebar) and Aboriginal people had a sophisticated set of laws and governance arrangements for many thousands of years before being invaded by the British. There were 500 language groups in Australia and each language group had and has a deep spiritual and physical connection to Country.

Country takes in everything within the landscape – landforms, waters, air, trees, rocks, plants, animals, foods, medicines, minerals, stories and special places. People have custodial responsibilities to care for their Country, to ensure that it continues in proper order and provides physical sustenance and spiritual nourishment. These custodial relationships may determine who can speak for particular Country. 

The ‘White Australia has a Black History’ slogan referred to here alludes to Australia’s long-standing reluctance to meaningfully acknowledge Aboriginal people and perspective in the telling of a national history. The slogan ‘White Australia has a Black History’ is also a reminder to white Australians of the catastrophic effect that European settlement had on Indigenous communities, as well as a reminder both of Indigenous loss and pride.

Acknowledgement of Country overview

An Acknowledgement of Country is a statement of public recognition of the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land. It is a way that all people can demonstrate respect for Aboriginal people and protocols and honour the knowledge and legacy of Traditional Owners and Custodians. Any person can give an acknowledgement.

The host of a ceremony or event should make an acknowledgement, unless someone else is performing this task. You can also ask Moondani Balluk to deliver the Acknowledgement of Country.

Events where an Acknowledgement of Country should be considered include:

  • graduation ceremonies
  • significant public lectures
  • official openings
  • large student or staff events
  • Orientation
  • Open Day
  • student awards
  • the launch of new initiatives or plans
  • at high level university committees (e.g. Council, Academic Board and Senior Leadership Committees).

An informal Acknowledgement of Country can also be given at meetings or any other event. This is determined by the staff chairing or managing the meeting or event.

Please email us at [email protected] if you'd like to request an Acknowledgement of Country from Moondani Balluk staff.

Campus locations & who to acknowledge

Aboriginal Country is not always clearly agreed upon by Traditional Owners and Custodians. Therefore, acknowledging one people over another may unintentionally exclude some people.

The University’s protocol is to acknowledge the following language groups, based on location.

Boonwurrung & Woiwurrung

  • City Campuses
  • Footscray Campuses
  • Altona Meadows Learning Link

Boonwurrung, Wadawurrung & Woiwurrung

  • Werribee campus

Woiwurrung

  • St Albans and Sunshine Campuses
  • Sunbury City Council area

Gadigal and Guring-gai

  • Sydney Campus

Checking Traditional Owners & Custodians

  • If you are in Victoria, you can check who the Traditional Owners and Custodians are of the land you are located on by using the interactive map (external link) available at the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council.
  • If you are located outside of Victoria, you can also check the AIATSIS language map (external link).

For further advice, please contact Moondani Balluk.

Formal Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne

"We/I acknowledge the Ancestors, Elders and families of the [insert relevant language group(s)] of the Kulin who are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of University land. As we share our own knowledge practices within the University may we pay respect to the deep knowledge embedded within the Aboriginal community and their ownership of Country.

We/I acknowledge that the land on which we meet is a place of age-old ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal and that the Kulin people’s living culture has a unique role in the life of this region. VU is committed to building better relationships and fostering greater understanding between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

Sydney

“We/I Sydney acknowledges the Gadigal and Guring-gai people of the Eora Nation upon whose ancestral lands our place of learning now stands. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the Traditional Custodians of knowledge for the land on which our campus is situated.”

Online

We/I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands which we are all meeting from remotely today. 

Informal Acknowledgement of Country

To give an informal Acknowledgement of Country, any of the follow phrases are appropriate.

  • I acknowledge the Ancestors, Elders and families of the [insert relevant language group(s)] of the Kulin (Melbourne campuses)/Eora (Sydney campus) as the traditional owners of land.
  • I would like to acknowledge the [insert relevant language group(s)] who are the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.
  • I would like to pay my respect to Elders past and present and extend my respect to Aboriginal people/staff/students/community who are present today.
  • I acknowledge that the footprints of the Kulin are found across the landscape of the western region.
  • I recognise and acknowledge the [insert relevant language group(s)] as the traditional owners of this land and pay my respect to their Ancestors and Elders.

Online

To give an informal Acknowledgement of Country to an online audience, please use any of the suggestions above after you check who are the Traditional Owners of the land where you are located.