Welcome to Country
Wayne Thorpe performing Welcome to Country at the opening of the new Morwell building.
In Gippsland, only a GunaiKurnai Elder, traditional custodian or respected community member can deliver the Welcome to Country. As the person delivering the welcome is using using their intellectual and cultural expertise it is appropriate that they are remunerated.
Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been part of Koorie culture for thousands of years. Clans and nations had clear boundaries separating their Country from other groups. Crossing into another group's Country required a request for permission to enter - like obtaining a visa. When permission to enter was granted the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage. Today, these protocols have been adapted to contemporary circumstances but the essential ingredients of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remains in place.
* For Aboriginal people, 'country' does not just mean the creeks, rock outcrops, hills and waterholes. "Country includes all living things. It incorporates people, plants and animals. It embraces the seasons, stories and creation spirits. 'country' is both a place of belonging and a way of believing". (anon)