Parliament’s Acknowledgement of Country delivered in Ngunnawal language in an Australian first

30 July 2020 | Canberra, Australia | Feature

(Left to right:) Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Ngunnawal elder Warren Bell, ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, Leader of the Opposition Alistair Coe, and Speaker Joy Burch pose for a photo after the first delivery of the Acknowledgement of Country in Ngunnawal language at the Legislative Assembly.[Source: Office of the Legislative Assembly, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0]

Today, the ancient language of the Ngunnawal people echoed through the chamber as the Assembly’s traditional Acknowledgement of Country was delivered in Ngunnawal language for the first time. The Assembly is the first parliament in Australia to deliver its Acknowledgement in an indigenous language at the start of each sitting.

The Assembly voted unanimously to shift from an English to Ngunnawal language Acknowledgment of Country in November 2019. The resolution calling for this was the first tripartisan motion in the Assembly's history. United Ngunnawal Elders Council co-chairs Roslyn Brown and Fred Monaghan provided invaluable advice about the wording of the Acknowledgement.  As the member who reads the Acknowledgement, Speaker Joy Burch undertook linguistics training with Ngunnawal man Cheyne Halloran and linguist Louise Baird.

The Acknowledgement

Dhawura nguna, dhawura Ngunnawal.

Yanggu ngalawiri, dhunimanyin Ngunnawalwari dhawurawari.

Nginggada Dindi dhawura Ngunnawalbun yindjumaralidjinyin.

This is Ngunnawal Country.

Today we are gathering on Ngunnawal country.

We always pay respect to Elders, female and male, and Ngunnawal country.

Though the building is closed due to the pandemic, a small group of elders were invited to sit in the public gallery for the occasion as representatives of the Ngunnawal people. Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Leader of the Opposition Alistair Coe, and Leader of the ACT Greens Shane Rattenbury all delivered brief statements after the acknowledgement recognising this significant milestone in the Assembly’s reconciliation journey with Canberra’s indigenous people.

Click here to watch the delivery of the Acknowledgement of Country.

Why do we acknowledge country?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a unique, deep connection to their ancestral lands, known as ‘country’. An Acknowledgement of Country allows non-indigenous Australians to pay respect to the indigenous people whose country they meet on and recognise their role as enduring guardians or ‘traditional owners’ of that land.

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