Protocols and customs | Redland City Council

Protocols and customs

This page provides an introduction to some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols and customs.

Note: This is a general guide only and may not apply in all circumstances. You should seek further guidance from the local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community for specific information.

Welcome to Country

Welcome to Country is a customary welcome performed by Traditional Owners (the Quandamooka People in most of the Redlands with a small portion identified by the Yugambeh people south-west of the city). This is usually done by an Elder at the beginning of an event and may take the form of their choosing, such as a ceremony, speech, dance or song.

A Welcome to Country honours the customs of Traditional Owners, allowing them to formally welcome visitors to their Traditional Lands and give their blessing to an activity, event or visit. 

If you wish to incorporate a Welcome to Country at your event, contact a Quandamooka community organisation for advice. 

Acknowledgment of Country

An Acknowledgment of Country can be performed by anyone wishing to pay respect to the Traditional Owners of the land they are visiting or holding an event.

This can be a personal, silent acknowledgement of Traditional Owners when entering Country. It can also be a public acknowledgement in printed form or in speech.

In Redlands, some examples of respectful Acknowledgment of Country statements are:

  • “I would like to acknowledge the Quandamooka People, Traditional Owners of the lands, winds and waters we call Redlands.”
  • “I acknowledge the Quandamooka People, Traditional Custodians of the lands, waters and seas where I stand today. I pay my respects to Elders, past, present and future.”
  • “I would like to show my respect and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of this land, of Elders past and present, on which this event takes place.” (if you don't know who the Traditional Owners are).

Sorry Business

Sorry Business is a term referring to the mourning process in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and the cultural practices associated with grief and loss of loved ones.

Sorry Business extends beyond the immediate family, bringing the wider community together. It is a sacred cultural practice with complex customs, protocols and obligations. It can take an extended period of time; a week, a month or more. 

For most First Nations people, it is extremely important to participate in Sorry Business. ‘Obligation’ is a key principle that underpins this continuing cultural practice.

People can show respect during these times by being mindful of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community’s privacy. Do not seek more information than you need to know and avoid asking unnecessary questions. It can be seen as ‘prying’ and offensive to ask questions that by their nature indicate a lack of relationship with the deceased person.

It is important to acknowledge that while it may be a mourning process for a whole Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community, it is also a private and emotional time within the community.

Sorry Business should be treated with sensitivity and respect, understanding that non-critical business may be delayed until Sorry Business is concluded. 

Confirmation of Aboriginality

Redland City Council does not provide the service of confirming Aboriginality. A good source of information on this process is the Queensland government.

You can also find information about proof of Aboriginality or Torres Strait Islander heritage from the AIATSIS website.

As mentioned on the AIATSIS site, community organisations play an important role in this process. Below is a list of organisations that may be able to offer further advice.