Beyond Tokenism: A Modern Approach to Acknowledging Country with Practical Tips

Beyond Tokenism: A Modern Approach
to Acknowledging Country with Practical Tips

Aboriginal Partnerships Manager, Den Barber recently shared his personal perspective on the practice of Acknowledgement of Country at the first Regional Landcare Coordinators Meeting under the Landcare Enabling Program. This followed on from a moving Acknowledgement performed at Murrumbateman during a visit by the Board and the Minister, the Hon. Tara Moriarty. Den emphasised that he was speaking solely for himself, recognising that each First Nations person would have their own interpretation and way to show their respects to both Country and Elders.

Distinguishing between Acknowledgements and Welcomes to Country, Den underscored the significance of the former, expressing concern that it often feels perfunctory and lacking in genuine meaning. He stressed that Acknowledgements need not be performed at every meeting and suggested that their relevance should be considered in relation to the meeting’s primary purpose.

Den proposed that organisations such as Landcare could establish guidelines for meaningful Acknowledgements. Landcare is an organisation that should be leading the way as its purpose is to protect the Country we all live and work on. This is what we do! When we protect and nourish Country, we are making sure that future generations can thrive. Whilst traditionally the host might lead the Acknowledgement, Den suggested that any attendee could do so, highlighting the importance of personal connection to the land.

He recommended incorporating specific details, such as the name of the Traditional Lands, into introductions or presentations during online meetings. Additionally, Den encouraged creative expressions of connection to Country, such as wearing Aboriginal-designed clothing or sharing personal experiences, like capturing photos of significant natural occurrences.

While advocating for creativity, Den cautioned against politicising or disrespecting Indigenous culture. He offered his support and guidance to individuals seeking to incorporate meaningful Acknowledgements into their practices, welcoming collaboration and respectful dialogue.

In a recent trip to the Central West Regional Community of Practice event held in Parkes, Den’s proclivity to watch out for artefacts was rewarded by stumbling across the pictured eggs – which are those of the Black Winged Stilt – confirmed by an angry bird, and an APP.

Given that the birds generally lay 4 – 6 eggs, it’s not surprising that he or she was extremely protective. Fox scats, and prints were present across the site, so it’s possible that some of the eggs may have been snaffled. The sighting occurred on the former sewerage ponds which had been decommissioned and turned into a wetlands area. It is now proving to be a suitable breeding habitat. Despite not yet being open to the public, large dog prints were also observed during the visit. Thanks to Marg Applebee for arranging the morning tour with our host Michael from Parkes Shire Council.

Black Winged Stilt eggs

Image: Black Winged Stilt eggs

Landcare NSW Board supports an Indigenous Voice to Parliament

Landcare NSW has issued a Reconciliation and Treaty Statement on behalf of the Board of Directors.

The statement comes as National Reconciliation Week draws to a close for 2023. The theme for this year is ‘Be a Voice for Generations’.

“The Board of Landcare NSW supports an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and all aspects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Truth and Treaty. The Board of Landcare NSW acknowledges Australia’s First Nations people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and we acknowledge their deep cultural, social, environmental, spiritual and economic connection to their lands and waters. We pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.”

Landcare NSW Chair, Stephanie Cameron said:

“I understand this statement from the Board doesn’t attempt to capture all the views of our members. However, it is our hope and vision that our statement from the Landcare NSW Board will encourage constructive debate on how we progress forward on the important issues of reconciliation and treaty and encourage all of our members to continue these important discussions amongst our diverse Landcare communities in NSW.”

Landcare NSW has been actively working to encourage and provide a voice for reconciliation in the Landcare community.

  • In 2019, the Aboriginal Engagement “Working Together”Program was launched. This initiative within the NSW Landcare Program aims to increase opportunities to consciously develop stronger connections and partnerships between Landcare groups and Aboriginal Communities.
  • In 2021, North Coast Landcare Network employed its first Aboriginal Landcare Officer followed by Murrumbidgee Landcare employing its first Aboriginal Landcare Officer.
  • In 2022, Landcare NSW appointed Mr Rene Woods to the Board in a position reserved for an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

The theme encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise.

National Reconciliation Week – 27 May to 3 June – is a time 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.

Minister for Agriculture attends NSW Landcare State Gathering

What an amazing Landcare State Gathering we had at the Aanuka Resort, Coffs Harbour last week.

With over 180 participants and a very welcomed visit by the Hon. Tara Moriarty MLC, Minister for Agriculture, Regional NSW and Western NSW, it was a fantastic three days of celebration with Landcarers from across NSW coming together to Reconnect, Recharge and Build Capacity.

Local and Regional Coordinators, Host Organisation representatives, members of the Landcare and Local Land Services Executive, Landcare NSW staff and the NSW Landcare Program Team enjoyed a mix of guest speakers, break-out sessions and presentations from Coordinators showcasing the amazing work they have been doing on the ground. Landcarers from Broken Hill to Boorowa immersed themselves in the gathering.

A big thank you to Uncle Micklo Jarret and Troy Robinson who welcomed everyone to Country, with their singing and smoking ceremony before a walk to the beach to dip our toes in the ocean.

The Landcare State Gathering is a bi-annual event that brings together Landcare Coordinators, their hosts, Landcare NSW and LLS together to share, connect and plan future collaborations.

The NSW Landcare Program is a program that supports the employment of 84 local and regional coordinators across NSW to build capacity, leverage funding and facilitate activities and events for Landcare volunteers and the community.

In the last four years (2019-2023) Landcare coordination has yielded $69m in net NRM, land management and community participation in NSW, with a return on investment of every $1 invested, $3 in benefit.

A huge thank you and congratulations to the Local Land Services team and Landcare NSW for coordinating a well-structured, and collaborative event in Coffs Harbour. And of course a huge thank you to North Coast Regional Landcare Network!

This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration between Landcare NSW and the Local Land Services, supported by the NSW Government.

Landcare State Gathering to Celebrate NSW Landcare Program

Over 180 Landcarers and community partners from across NSW will make their way to Coffs Harbour next week as part of the NSW Landcare Program State Gathering.

The Gathering runs from Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th May, and is an opportunity for the network of Regional Landcare Coordinators, Local Landcare Coordinators and community host organisations, to share experiences, learn skills and re-connect with each other.

The 2019-2023 NSW Landcare Program funded by the NSW Government, is a collaborative initiative of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW empowering Landcarers to take action on local problems and deliver outcomes that address local and regional issues.

Landcare NSW Chair Stephanie Cameron said the event is critical to building common understanding and capacity across the state.

“Landcare’s strength lies in the strength of its grassroots, community movement – it’s about local people doing work on the ground to provide local solutions to local problems,” said Ms Cameron.

“The NSW Landcare Program supports the network of hard-working volunteers in local communities who manage and restore the natural environment, improve the sustainability of agricultural production and build the resilience of communities.”

The objectives of the 2023 Gathering are:

  • Reconnect – bringing the Landcare community together in person after years of online
    meetings and no events
  • Capacity building – sharing skills through networking, workshops and presentations
  • Recharge – having the event in a relaxed environment and allowing time for participants to

NSW Landcare CEO Turlough Guerin said the learnings and connections that participants experience at the gathering will provide peer support and information sharing opportunities.

“The State Gathering is an opportunity for our Coordinators and Host Organisations consisting mainly of Landcare groups to input into the next four-year Program and apply learnings to assist in delivering outcomes in their communities in the future.”

This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration between Landcare NSW and the Local Land Services, supported by the NSW Government.