A Welcome to Country delivery is by Traditional Owners, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners, to welcome visitors to their Country.
Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been a part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. Despite the absence of fences or visible borders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait slander groups had clear boundaries separating their Country from that of other groups. Crossing into another group’s Country required a request for permission to enter. When permission was granted the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage and protection of their spiritual being during the journey. While visitors were provided with a safe passage, they also had to respect the protocols and rules of the landowner group while on their Country.
Today, obviously much has changed, and these protocols have been adapted to contemporary circumstances. However, the essential elements of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remain in place.
A Welcome to Country can take many forms including a speech in traditional language &/or English, performed with didgeridoo playing, dancing or Dreamtime stories.
The delivery can also be accompanied by a smoking ceremony, an ancient Aboriginal custom in Australia that involves burning various native plants to produce smoke, which has cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits from the people and the land and make pathway for a brighter future.
BBC Entertainment call upon many respected and well known Indigenous Australians for Welcome to Country deliveries, including Robyn Collard, Freda Ogilvie, Theo Kearing, James Webb and Rosemary Walley.