We, the Larrakia people, have always welcomed visitors onto our country. From within a context of ongoing struggle for our land rights, we have continued to welcome and care for people when they are on our traditional lands.
We aim to foster partnerships according to the cultural protocols, which we ask you to understand and respect.
Engaging with the Aboriginal community can be challenging. Rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, there are established protocols which form the best way to go about doing things on Larrakia country. The following protocols are a guide. In general, the best way to acknowledge the Larrakia people is to partner with the Larrakia Nation to improve community outcomes on your project or in your business. If in doubt, please contact us.
Acknowledgement and Welcomes to Country (spoken)
A guide for a spoken Acknowledgement of country at the start of meetings is: “XXX acknowledges the Larrakia people as the Traditional Owners of the Darwin region. We pay our respects to the Larrakia elders past and present.”
Acknowledgement of country is the minimum standard protocol for any meeting or gathering. For significant meetings, events or gatherings, it is protocol for a Larrakia Welcome to Country to be booked through us. As a guide, if your event or gathering involves multiple stakeholders, and/or the use of a microphone, a Welcome to Country is strongly recommended.
It is also protocol to acknowledge individual senior Larrakia and other Aboriginal elders in the room by name at meetings and gatherings.
An Acknowledgement of Country can be done by anyone, but a Welcome to Country can only be performed by a recognized Larrakia person.
For major events, a traditional saltwater welcome, dance or smoking may be recommended. The most respectful way to acknowledge the Larrakia is for genuine Larrakia involvement in your project or activity.
Acknowledgement of Country (written)
Increasingly, organisations are erecting signage or plaques acknowledging the Larrakia people. A suggested wording for these is: “XXX operates on Larrakia country. We acknowledge the Larrakia people as the Traditional Owners of the Darwin region and pay our respects to Larrakia elders past and present. We are committed to a positive future for the Aboriginal community.”
All signage involving the Larrakia people should be submitted to the Larrakia Nation board for approval.
We encourage the use of Larrakia artwork and can commission art or signage to fit the client.
Generally, the board prefers the use of the Aboriginal flag over other Indigenous flags. The Torres Strait Islander flag should be used when referring to Indigenous or Torres Strait Islands and not the Larrakia people.
Engaging with the Larrakia people
The best way to engage with the Larrakia people is to write a letter to the Chair outlining how you would like to work with the Larrakia community. You can also contact a member of staff in one of our relevant work areas.
Community engagement beyond the board requires time and energy of staff and community consultants. If you would like to engage with the broader Larrakia community we can assist you if you are able to cover the costs of organising community engagement, such as event costs or the costs of catering at a meeting.
Many businesses and organisations want to engage with the community and it is important that there is a genuine commitment to community outcomes rather than a tick the box approach. A decision to assist you with community engagement will be based on whether you can demonstrate this commitment.
Cultural Protocols for Visitors
The Larrakia people have developed a set of cultural protocols for visitors to Larrakia land through the Community Harmony Project. These protocols apply to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal visitors and both temporary visitors and residents on Larrakia Country. They are as follows:
- The Larrakia people are the Aboriginal traditional owners of all land and waters of the greater Darwin area including identified Aboriginal living areas.
- Aboriginal lore/law requires respect for the cultural authority of the traditional owners.
- Larrakia speak for Larrakia country; other traditional owners speak for their traditional lands.
- We have a mutual obligation to care for our country with our neighbours.
- Visitors should be aware that we have a body of knowledge in our land and waters, which includes sites of significance.
- Larrakia people expect visitors and service providers to be aware of Larrakia cultural obligations and to respect and acknowledge them.
- Visitors have the right to be treated with respect and understanding.
- All visitors are responsible for their behaviour and should respect guidance of Larrakia.
- Learning about country is everybody’s responsibility and it is also the responsibility of government and non-government agencies.
- Inappropriate behaviour reflects badly on Larrakia people and we do not accept it.
Contacting the Board
These letters are generally considered at the board meetings once a month. If you require a more speedy response, please send an email for circulation but please bear in mind that some things cannot be decided on and responded to outside board meetings.
There is a strict delineation between the roles of the board and staff. For community, land or cultural matters, please contact the board; for program, business development, HR or operational matters please contact the appropriate staff member.
Indigenous Knowledge and Rights
There are particular protocols around the use of Indigenous Knowledge, including Larrakia knowledge, and persons and organisations involved in the use, collection, storage and reproduction of Larrakia and other Indigenous knowledge, documents or materials should contact the Larrakia Nation board for permission and/or guidance.
Larrakia Nation has a policy that Larrakia knowledge and expertise is valuable and that this value should be acknowledged and remunerated appropriately in the same way that other expert knowledge is. Larrakia people draw their livelihoods from this knowledge and expertise and we are limited in what we can do for free.
There are a number of documents that further articulate the rights of Aboriginal people and these can be referred to as a guide for work on Larrakia land and with the Larrakia community:
- Convention on Biological Diversity 1992
- Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People 2007
- Free, Prior and Informed Consent
How to Become a Culturally Competent Organisation:
- Book a Welcome to Country for events and ensure acknowledgement of traditional owners at significant meetings
- Develop win-win commercial partnerships with Larrakia Nation and/or other Aboriginal business enterprises
- Provide cultural awareness training for staff
- Put measures in place to support Aboriginal employment, such as mentoring schemes
- “Give a Little” – a regular donation to Larrakia cultural maintenance in recognition of their traditional ownership of country
- Encourage staff to participate in community events and opportunities for volunteering
The team at Larrakia Nation can help you with all of these. Just contact us.