Why We have Included a Welcome to Country Statement on our Websites

I was born in England, but I identify as a member of a First Nation. My ancestors, on my father’s side were from the country the English call Wales. The Celts and their descendants the Welsh, the Cornish and other Celtic nations were the First Nations in Britain. We Welsh people were labeled as foreigners in our own land by the invading, Anglo-Saxons, Jutes, Vikings and other north European tribes. The English word “Wales” means foreigners. The Welsh name for our country, Cymru (Cumree), means fellow countrymen. Interestingly the Welsh word for England is Lloeger which probably means warriors.

Even today many people in England have a sneering attitude toward the Welsh and their language as if somehow we are second-class citizens. I remember the reaction of several of my English friends when I told them I was learning Welsh (Cymraeg). However, as we say in Wales, “Yma o hyd” (Uma o heed) – we are still here!

As a Cymro (Welshman) I understand the struggles faced by the First Nations people of Australia, my adopted country. I wish that the Welsh had been afforded more respect over the centuries by the invaders, colonists and migrants. I extend that same desire to the Australian First Nations.

We must recognise that the mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples in Australia is a legacy of colonialism and system racism which has persisted for generations and continues today. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the history of Australia, the experiences of our First Nations, and to acknowledge the ongoing impacts of colonisation and systematic discrimination.

I am not to blame for the actions of my ancestors or the policies of previous governments, but I am responsible to do all I can to support the rights and wellbeing of a marginalised, and

Why We have Included a Welcome to Country Statement on our Websites

persecuted section of our community. This is a collective duty. I believe that the way we treat the least in our community reflects on all of us.

It is not a legal requirement to have a “welcome to Country” statement on our websites but we are proud to demonstrate our support of First Nations all around Australia in this way.

Formal legal acknowledgement in our constitution aligns with the principles of justice, equity and cultural diversity. Supporting constitutional recognition of the Aboriginal people demonstrates solidarity with indigenous peoples, not just here, but all around the world, including the homeland of my forebears, Cymru.

Robert Pattie-Williams
Voice & Speech Coach
Clearly Talking
Melbourne (Naarm), Australia.