uwu (2).jpg

Respecting Kulin Nations


Welcome to Country

At ServDes.2020 we are honoured to have the Welcome to Country given by Parbin-ata Carolyn Briggs AM, who is also RMIT’s resident Indigenous Boon wurrung Elder. 

In this video Aunty Briggs and Aunty Di Kerr (Wurundjeri Elder), share their traditional knowledge of the Victorian waterways.

"Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been a part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. Despite the absence of fences or visible borders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups had clear boundaries separating their Country from that of other groups.

Crossing into another group’s Country required a request for permission to enter. When permission was granted the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage and protection of their spiritual being during the journey. While visitors were provided with a safe passage, they also had to respect the protocols and rules of the land owner group while on their Country.

Today, obviously much has changed, and these protocols have been adapted to contemporary circumstances. However, the essential elements of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remain in place.

A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in traditional language or English. A Welcome to Country is delivered by Traditional Owners, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners, to welcome visitors to their Country."

(From Reconciliation Australia)

Acknowledgement of Country

ServDes.2020 conference will take place on the unceded lands of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the east Kulin Nation. 

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for everyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It also recognises that their sovereignty was never ceded.

We invite everyone attending ServDes.2020 to offer an Acknowledgement at the start of every session and to offer this with feelings of deep respect. There is no fixed wording but it can take this form:

“I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the unceded land on which we meet today, the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the Kulin Nation and pay my respects to Elders past, present and future. I also pay my respects to members of Indigenous communities that are attending this event.”

And/or if you’re attending on lands of Traditional Custodians across the world:

“I / We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands, [insert name of Nations or Peoples] and pay my/ our respect to their Elders past, present and future. I /We also pay my/our respects to members of Indigenous communities that are attending this event.” 

Find out the Traditional Custodians where you are in Australia

Bundjil statement

Bundjil was a powerful man, who travelled as an Eagle. He was the head man of the Kulin people. Bundjil taught people to always welcome guests. Bundjil asks what is your purpose for coming and understanding place.

When you are on place you make dhumbali (promise/commitment) to Bundjil and the land of the Kulin Nation.

The first dhumbali, is to obey the ngarn-ga (understandings) of Bundjil.

The second dhumbali, is not to harm the bubups (children).

The third dhumbali is not to harm the biik biik (land) and wurneet (waterways) of Bundjil.

As the spirit of Kulin ancestors live in us, let the wisdom, the spirit and the generosity in which Bundjil taught us influence the decisions made on place.


Do this by understanding your ways of knowing, your ways of doing, and your ways of being on place.

Places of cultural significance

A number of sites of historical and cultural significance are located within or close to RMIT. We hope that you can take some time during the conference to visit some of these places.

RMIT Ngarara Place

Walk, listen and discover RMIT’s Indigenous history

An interactive app and audio-walk is revealing RMIT’s hidden history, inviting listeners to reimagine the City campus through Indigenous stories of land, river and sky.

Download the TIMeR app for mobile and start your own campus tour: 

Koorie Heritage Trust Online

The Koorie Heritage Trust is located at Federation Square, a tram ride or walking distance from the conference venue at RMIT. Their purpose is to promote, support and celebrate the continuing journey of the Aboriginal people of South Eastern Australia. And their motto is “Gnokan danna murra kor-ki” means “Give me your hand my friend”.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Koorie Heritage Trust have temporarily suspended public programs. Many wonderful resources, such as online exhibitions and the Trails of Feeling interactive walking trail, are available through Koorie Heritage Trust Onilne.

Learning about Koorie cultures

We have booked a wonderfully informative guided tour for ServDes.2020 attendees offered by the Koorie Heritage Trust and Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. We will follow up with a range of timings for you to choose from ((between 1-2hrs), after you have registered.

Aboriginal Walking Tour 

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum

RMIT and Reconciliation

Founded in 1887, RMIT is established as the Working Men’s College, with the aim of bringing education to the working people of Melbourne.

By 1888 The College offered classes to both men and women in technical, business and arts areas. Students gained applied skills relevant to various trades, including architectural and mechanical drawing, theoretical and applied mechanics, plumbing, carpentry and painting. The curriculum offered studies in arithmetic, algebra, bookkeeping, shorthand, physics, physiology and photography. 

The establishment of the the Koorie Education Unit in 1992, marks the beginning of RMIT’s journey towards Reconciliation.

RMIT's Act legally endorses our commitment to ‘use our expertise and resources to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia in its teaching, learning, research and advancement of knowledge activities and thereby contribute to; realising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aspirations, and safeguarding of the ancient and rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage'.

Through Dhumbah Goorowa, RMIT’s Reconciliation Plan, RMIT is committed to redefining its relationship in working with and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The University’s goal is to achieve lasting transformation by maturing its values, culture, policy and structures in a way that embeds reconciliation in everything we do. We are changing our ways of knowing, working and being to support sustainable reconciliation and activate a relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, students and community.

1 https://www.rmit.edu.au/about/our-heritage/history-of-rmit

2 https://www.rmit.edu.au/about/our-values/respect-for-australian-indigenous-cultures