The benefits of cultural awareness and the importance of acknowledging country

This week we recognise National Reconciliation Week (27 May- 3 June), a time to acknowledge the achievements of our Australia’s First Nations people and reflect on how this year’s theme ‘Be Brave. Make Change’ relates to our profession.

The national week is a chance for all Australians to learn about the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, celebrate their accomplishments, and consider how we can contribute to progressing reconciliation in Australia. 

‘Be Brave. Make Change’ is something we can all relate to in our own lives and profession. Early this year, Actuaries Institute President Annette King urged actuaries to be brave and to stand up for what’s right as we embark on using data for good. 

This week it’s a good time to adopt those very same principles and reflect on the status of Australia’s First Nations people.

Acknowledging country and its people

One way we all become more aware of First Nations people and their contribution is by acknowledging country.

Many of the Institute’s events and meetings start with an Acknowledgement of Country. But have you wondered why we do it? And why we use it for some meetings but not others?

An Acknowledgement of Country is a way of showing awareness, and respect, of the Traditional Custodians of the land. It is a reminder of the world’s longest surviving cultures, and the deep connection Australia’s First Nations people have to the land. Acknowledging country is respecting Australia’s Indigenous ownership and custodianship of Australia.

Here are some great considerations when making an Acknowledgement of Country:

  • An Acknowledgement of Country can be made by any person but only a Traditional Owner of Country can give a Welcome to Country

  • Acknowledging country is a way of showing your commitment to Reconciliation and shows a deep respect for our First Nations people and their habitation of the land long before European settlement

  • An Acknowledgement of Country can be made at any time! Many of the Institute’s events and meetings commence with an Acknowledgement of Country but you can deliver an acknowledgement at any meeting, at any time, even on your own. It can be a reminder for all hearing the acknowledgement that Australia belongs to the Traditional Owners, and we have much to learn from their custodianship

  • There are no set words for an Acknowledgement of Country – BUT – it must be sincere and authentic. The words should not be rushed and should be a genuine reflection of the belief that Country belongs to the Traditional Owners

  • The Acknowledgement should refer to the names of the Traditional Owners on the land where the meeting is being held. More information can be found on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AITSIS) website

  • The acknowledgement should refer to Elders past and present and, if you like, Emerging Elders. Do not use names of deceased Elders which is important in Indigenous cultures.

CORE Cultural training offer

To help you understand the value of being more culturally aware, the Actuaries Institute is offering our members access to an innovative online course that explores the history and cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The CORE Cultural Learning modules aim to improve your personal and professional capacity to engage respectfully through 10 self-paced and interactive modules.

The program is a key pillar of the Institute’s Indigenous Engagement Plan and an important workplace value.

Institute members can access CORE Cultural Learning at a reduced subscription fee of $99 per person. Visit the Events page to register before 20 June 2022.

Upon completion of the course, members will be eligible for 24 CPD points for professionalism training. 

CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.