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Indigenous Studies Guide: Protocols

Find information for your assignments and research related to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics

What is the appropriate terminology?

Using appropriate terminology and inclusive language is important when talking about, referring to or conversing with Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The following links include terminology guides, handbooks, articles created by various organisations & people. 

Please be advised that the links used in this guide is for a general purpose. Within specific context's it would be advisable to seek an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person about the terminology used in your local area. 


Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP)

Building Respectful Relationships

Essential Aboriginal insights: A guide for anyone involved in closing the gaps in Australia
Author: Jolleen Hicks 
Publication Date: 2019
Publisher: Perth, Western Australia
Call No. 305.89915 HIC 
Description: Every Aboriginal community is different and we must commit to learning about the cultural diversity and complexity of specific Aboriginal Communities. Aboriginal people are not one people or one culture, they are many separate cultures with special rights and interests. Learning their ways will enrich your life. 

What is the difference between an Acknowledgement of Country and a Welcome to Country?

Welcome or Acknowledgment of Country? What's the difference?

A Welcome to country is a ceremony carried out by local members of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community to welcome visitors to the land. An Acknowledgment of Country is an opportunity to show respect to the Indigenous community and may be carried out by Indigenous or non-Indigenous people.

Find out more:

Acknowledgement of Country

In this video, Aunty Ann, a Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi Elder and Aunty Flo, a Wulgurukaba, Gunggandji and Western Yalanji Elder explain the difference between an Acknowledgement of Country and a Welcome to Country. Courtesy of the Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority, Queensland Government [video length is 3:17]

Welcome to Country

Jade Kennedy is a Yuin man from the Illawarra and South Coast of New South Wales. He has been privileged with the intimate knowledges of his peoples customs, culture and Country, and attempts to honour this through the building of knowledge-based relationships grounded in respect, responsibility and reciprocity. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community [video length 11:29]

How to write an Acknowledgement of Country

JCU Protocols

JCU has policy, training and ethics around research including researching with and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and issues.

The AIATSIS Code of Ethics

The AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research (The AIATSIS Code) ensures that research with and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples follows a process of meaningful engagement and reciprocity between the researcher and the individuals and/or communities involved in the research.

Torres Strait Islander Protocols

The Torres Strait Island Regional Council (Qld Government) and the Torres Strait Regional Authority (Commonwealth Agency) have created some guidelines on Torres Strait protocols to assist anyone wanting to engage with all communities of the Torres Strait region. 


Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

Government Protocols for Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Queensland State Government produced guidelines that explore both cultural, historical and language issues.

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country