Ushered in, whisked out and promptly forgotten

Wesley Aird; 19/3/10

Wesley Aird is a member of the Gold Coast Native Title Group and a board member of the Bennelong Society.

Once again, we are reminded there are things we should and shouldn’t say in relation to indigenous people. When Tony Abbott recently called into question the practice of the welcome to country ceremony, his comments attracted strong reactions for and against. There is a time and a place to respect culture but not for tokenism. When it comes to the common welcome to country ceremony, what happens far too often is an in-house event manager looks around at the last minute for an elderly Aborigine to do the welcome or the event host delivers some droll recitation lacking any feeling for relationships or land. To hear our culture being used to tick a policy box is infuriating. Ceremonies such as this probably do more harm than good and, to quote the federal Opposition Leader, “seems like out-of-place tokenism”