Wodonga Council
First Nations peoples

Page URL: https://www.wodonga.vic.gov.au/About-Council/Our-Community/First-Nations-peoples

First Nations peoples

 /  About CouncilOur CommunityFirst Nations peoples

Wodonga Council acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of the Country.
We also acknowledge them as Traditional Owners and Custodians across various lands.
We pay our respect to their Ancestors, Elders, children and young people.
We acknowledge the strength and resilience of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and
recognise their continuous connections to lands, waters and communities across the country.

First Nations Engagement Framework and Protocols Guide

Wodonga Council’s First Nations Engagement Framework and First Nations Protocols Guide have been developed to give guidance to the broader community in the right way to work and connect with Aboriginal people and communities.

Respectful relationships and partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities involve an understanding and respect for protocols. Being aware of, and recognising, Aboriginal protocols demonstrates respect towards cultural traditions, history and diversity within the community.

The community should continue to consult with Wodonga Aboriginal people about how and when to observe these protocols and other protocols in the most appropriate manner.

Thanks to all that have contributed to the engagement framework and protocols guide. To contribute further to this ongoing work, email Reconcilation@wodonga.vic.gov.au.



Cultural protocols

There is no recognised Aboriginal Party in Wodonga, however, there are recognised Traditional Owners.

In Wodonga's instance, where there is not a formally recognised party by  the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, an example Acknowledgement to Country to recognise Traditional Owners  is outlined below.

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we are meeting. I pay my respects to their  Elders, past and present, and to Elders of other communities who may be here today.


What is this?

Who can do this?

When should it be done?

Acknowledgment of Country

An Acknowledgment of Country shows respect for the land and Traditional Owners of where the event is taking place.


Can be in the form of a verbal statement

 Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners should be given at formal events, forums and functions.

The first speaker at an event (following a Welcome or in the absence of a Welcome) should always give the Acknowledgment of Traditional Owners.

Other speakers may also give an acknowledgement.

Welcome to Country


“Country” is a term used to describe culturally defined area of land.

A Welcome to Country is done by a Traditional Owner of the area where the event is taking place. This is to open the event at the beginning.

These ceremonies vary from speeches of welcome to traditional dance and smoking ceremonies.

A fee for service is paid for a Welcome to Country, along with any dance, song or cultural element.


Only by Traditional Owners of that land and who has cultural authority to do so.


A Welcome to Country ceremony should be arranged for major public events, forums and functions in locations where Traditional Owners have been formally recognised.

 A welcoming ceremony is also appropriate if the event has broad impact on, or is significant to, Aboriginal people.



Smoking Ceremony

A Smoking Ceremony is used to cleanse energy and space, to ward off bad spirits and promote protection.

The Traditional Owner conducting the smoking ceremony will ask those in attendance to walk through the smoke as a form of cleansing. This is optional but encouraged.

A fee is paid for a smoking ceremony.

This is always facilitated by a First Nations person with cultural knowledge and authority to do so.

A Smoking Ceremony could  accompany a Welcome to Country to open a significant event.

First Nations people might request a Smoking Ceremony where a death or traumatic event has occurred.

This protocol is not the same for all First Nations communities. Some might only do this for when there has been a death in the community.