The Mornington Peninsula is located on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. They are the Traditional Owners of the land that covers the coast from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson’s Promontory in the south-east, taking in the catchments of the Old Carrum swamp, Tarwin River and Westernport Bay, and including Mornington Peninsula, French and Phillip Islands.
Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all over Australia live within the shire boundaries. Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Traditional Owners of the land is an important part of showing respect for the indigenous peoples of Australia.
Kulin people believed that those from clans outside this country were required to undergo a specific ritual to enable them to enter the area without harm.
On the Mornington Peninsula a Welcome to Country can only be conducted by a Boon Wurrung / Bunurong community member; this welcomes people to their land. This usually involves a smoking ceremony and talk and/or story. It is typically the first item on the program at the opening of meetings, launches, special events and official functions.
All major official Council events include a Welcome to Country ceremony, where members of the public, representatives of Council and other Government agencies and/or the media are present.
The type of recognition afforded to Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people at an official Council event should be appropriate to the nature and size of each event. Event organisers need to ensure that the Traditional Owners are involved in the Welcome to Country ceremony and are comfortable with the arrangements.
It is important to invite local Boon Wurrung / Bunurong representatives into any planned proposal at the onset to discuss and decide the format of the ceremony, who should be invited, who should perform the Welcome to Country and how that person will be recognised for their time and commitment.
It should also be noted that performing a Welcome to Country ceremony is a right of local Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people and not a privilege.
The Acknowledgement of Country is usually a statement or a speech made by an Aboriginal or a non-Aboriginal to show respect to the Traditional Owners of the land. As a guide for Councillors, shire staff and community members of the Mornington Peninsula Shire, the following statement has been developed as a guide only to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land in which the Mornington Peninsula Shire sits.
‘Mornington Peninsula Shire acknowledges and pays respect to the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people, the traditional custodians of these lands and waters’.
Engaging Traditional Owners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders factsheet is available to be downloaded by the public.
Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Flying of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flag policy
The Flying of Flags at Council offices located at the main offices of Rosebud, Mornington and Hastings will fly the Australian Aboriginal Flag (among others) on a permanent basis during normal office hours.
During Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, the Torres Strait Islander Flag will also be flown, replacing the Mornington Peninsula Shire Flag.
Following a request from the relevant local Aboriginal community organisation, the Australian Aboriginal Flag may be flown at half-mast to mark the passing of a local elder.