|Diane Cowburn making her|
statement to the council.
"As we meet together we pause to remember and acknowledge that the land on which we meet, Lutruwita, is the traditional land of the Palawa people. This place has been and continues to be sacred to generations of people who have shaped and been shaped by the land, waters and sky for thousands of generations. We acknowledge today's Aboriginal community as ongoing custodians of this land and its ancestral stories and we commit ourselves to the ongoing work for justice and healing in our relationships."
At the end of her statement Ms Cowburn, a retired teacher, suggested that the council include a similar statement at the start of each council meeting and again on Australia Day, which she referred to as Invasion Day, and in the council newsletter. Ms Cowburn's statement was heard in silence, except for her reference to Invasion Day, which prompted Mr Len Butterworth to say there was no such thing.
Mayor Ben Shaw invited Ms Cowburn to provide a copy of her Acknowledgement of Country. "If you want to provide us with the words we can put it to councillors and see if they want to adopt that at the start of meetings," he said.
Immediately prior to Ms Cowburn's statement, Cr Shaw had read a statement of his own, requiring everyone to behave in a quiet and respectful manner at council meetings. While this had not been put to councillors for approval, he said it would be read at the start of all workshops and council meetings.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet's protocol section describes the Acknowledgement of Country as "respect and recognition of Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples’ survival and continual connection with the land spanning more than 60,000 years. An Acknowledgement of Country pays respect to the Aboriginal community, both past and present."
This differs from a Welcome to Country, which is given by Aboriginal people, welcoming visitors to their land. "Only Tasmanian Aboriginal people can give a Welcome to Country in Tasmania. It is highly disrespectful for anyone else to do so. A Welcome to Country might involve: a speech from a Tasmanian Aboriginal Elder or community representative; a speech in Palawa Kani (Tasmanian Aboriginal Language); short history of the people and the area; story telling; singing and dancing; ceremony. This depends on who is giving the Welcome to Country, and to whom it will be given."
"Tasmanian Aboriginal people have a distinctive and age-old connection with their ancestral lands and waters. They are custodians with particular responsibilities. When an Aboriginal person talks of ‘Country’; this encompasses not only the land and water but also culture, knowledge, and the environment."
Acknowledgement of Country has been made by speakers at the local Australia Day observances in New Norfolk in recent years, as well as by former councillor James Graham on some formal occasions during his term in office. Prior to the council's suspension and dismissal in 1996, each council meeting started with a prayer given by local ministers of religion on a roster basis, but this did not continue when the council was reinstated two years later.