Cultural Protocols

WAITOC empowers its members to embrace their cultural identity in order to honor and respect the ancestors and Elders both past and present. With traditions of the oldest living culture restored, the outcomes at a social and economic level become more progressive and offer the opportunity to create pride in its people.

Society And Traditional Lifestyles

Aboriginal society has always adapted to meet the differing needs created in our changing environment and society since the colonisation of Australia in 1788. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups who continue to live in remote communities, mainly on or near lands (country) to which they are connected, have adapted to the European way of life differently, but to no less an extent, than those living a rural or urban lifestyle.

Geographically, whether these communities are from urban, remote or regional land areas, the term ‘traditional' does not apply only to the communities in remote areas, and the term ‘contemporary' does not apply only to urban communities. Therefore the traditional beliefs and customs that are important in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies are no less important for urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than they are for remote  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Language Groups

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are roughly divided into 200-250 distinct language groups speaking around 700 dialects. A common mistake is to talk about speaking ‘Aboriginal', when there is no such language. A dialect is a particular variation of a specific language. For example, Wardandi is a dialect of the Bibbulmun Nation in the South West of Western Australia.

The term ‘Aborigine' is actually a European construct used from early contact time to describe the Indigenous inhabitants under a generic term, without recognising their cultural diversity. Cultural traditions vary from those living in remote communities to urban groups, rural and regional areas. This diversity extends to all aspects of life such as religion, political beliefs, cultural ceremonies, creation stories and history. It is an integral part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies and should be given due recognition.

View Language Map


The Commonwealth uses determines Aboriginality through heritage, identity and acceptance. Australia's Indigenous peoples are descendents and members of Aboriginal nations and people who identify as Aboriginal and are accepted by the Aboriginal community where they live and/or come from. Be aware that thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have been displaced. A 1989 National Indigenous survey revealed 47% of people are still in the process of tracing and/or being reunited with their immediate family and kinship ties. In the Indigenous community, the degree of descent is irrelevant. The true identity lies within the  kinship ties. The terms full blood, part or quarter Aboriginal or half caste are unacceptable and offensive to Indigenous people and should not be used