Cultural Protocols

Cultural Protocols


Traditions of knowledge sharing and learning have taken place and continue to take place on this land since the time of the Ancestors and the Dreaming. 

Culture, customs, spirituality, language and Dreaming are embedded within the landscape and life of this land. As an institution of education, Macquarie is committed to creating spaces for the continuation of Aboriginal knowledge and learning, as unique and vital components of our shared national culture and history. 

The Cultural Protocols document has been prepared by Walanga Muru to encourage recognition and respect for Aboriginal Australians’ knowledge, cultural practices and stories at Macquarie University. Staff and students at the University are welcome to discuss this document or other Aboriginal-specific matters with Walanga Muru staff. 

This document is recommended for all Macquarie students and staff and provides a guide for appropriate definitions, respect, language and terminology at the University; and sets the cultural and historical context in which these protocols are based. A strong, respectful relationship with Aboriginal Australians and their Communities has the potential to enrich educational experiences.

Principles and reconciliation

The Macquarie University Aboriginal Cultural Protocols are underpinned by the Macquarie University Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Reconciliation action plans provide a framework for organisations to realise their vision for reconciliation. They are practical plans of action built on relationships, respect and opportunities. These plans create social change and economic opportunities for Aboriginal Australians. Positive relationships and high levels of respect deliver opportunities, which provide the best outcomes for Aboriginal Australians at Macquarie.


The development of genuine and respectful relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians is a fundamental step towards the goal of reconciliation. Relationships based on high levels of trust, a lack of prejudice and the growth of strong partnerships is a positive step forward for all staff and students at Macquarie.


Another fundamental principle for Aboriginal Cultural Protocols is respect – respect for Aboriginal heritage and culture, and the rights of Aboriginal people to own and control their culture. This includes respect for customs, points of view and lifestyle. Understanding the historical context of Aboriginal Australians and recognising the accomplishments and continuation of one of the oldest known cultures shows knowledge and respect.


Strong relationships and respectful understanding can build opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples at Macquarie University. 

Increasing access to tertiary education, and including the Aboriginal voice in decision-making processes, has the potential to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with vocational and tertiary pathways to success. At Macquarie, the establishment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student groups, the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students on committees, and the building of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce capacity are all big steps forward for the continuing success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students.


Aboriginal Australians have a strong and continuing relationship with their Country’s Land and Waters. This connection to the Land is fundamental to their wellbeing. Culture, Law, Lore, spirituality, social obligations and kinship all stem from relationships to and with the Land.  

Aboriginal Australians belong to the Land, rather than owning it. The Land is sacred and spirituality, Dreaming, sacred sites, Law and Lore are within it. Land is a living thing, often described as ‘Mother’.  

Aboriginal Australians have culturally specific associations with the Land and these vary between Communities. An Aboriginal Community’s cultural associations with their Country may include or relate to cultural practices, knowledge, songs, stories, art, pathways, flora, fauna and minerals. These cultural associations may include custodial relationships with particular landscapes.

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