With this week in Australia being Reconciliation Week, I have been thinking about the design work I do and how I can incorporate Aboriginal Culture into what I do. Quite often I do this at consultation level with the early learning centres and schools as I work with them.
Something that I have thought about is that it would be lovely for each play space to have a written ‘Acknowledgement of Country’, paying respect to the fact that the play space is on Aboriginal land.
After doing some research, I found a lovely example of this on the website: https://www.creativespirits.info.
Here is their recommended Acknowledgement of country for a permanent sign:
[Organisation] operates on [Aboriginal nation] country. We acknowledge the [Aboriginal nation] people as the traditional custodians of the [Organisation location] region and pay our respects to [Aboriginal nation] Elders past and present. We are committed to a positive future for the Aboriginal community.
The website also suggests the following important things to know when making an acknowledgement to Country:
- Custodians, not owners. Use “traditional custodians” and not “traditional owners” as Aboriginal people don’t own the land. You might argue though that “traditional ownership” is a conventional term that tries to convey the complex meaning of Aboriginal land tenure. However, a a descendant of the First Nation People of the Mackay Region told me, “I too prefer to be identified as a Traditional Custodian and not a Traditional Owner as I do not own the land but I care for the land.” 
- Include both groups. Always use “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders” to include both distinct indigenous groups.
- Respect Elders. I’ve capitalised “Elders” as a sign of respect.
- Include land. Always include a reference to Aboriginal land.
- Be personal. I’ve used “I” rather than the organisation’s name, or “we”, to make the acknowledgement more personal. (If it’s a single person speaking.)
It might also be nice to include some words of your children about the land you are on. What makes where you are unique and special? What do the children love about the land? What are they grateful for? You could also include keywords from your local Indigenous language for the trees, plants, birds and animals that frequent your play space.
I hope this has given you some inspiration for respecting the custodians of the land you and you and your children are blessed to be on each day.
Thankyou to this amazing source: Welcome to Country & Acknowledgement of Country – Creative Spirits, retrieved from https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/spirituality/welcome-to-country-acknowledgement-of-country