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Flag raising a positive step

Friday, 20th February, 2015

Good day ... Elder Maureen O’Donnell speaking at yesterday’s Aboriginal flag raising ceremony. Good day ... Elder Maureen O’Donnell speaking at yesterday’s Aboriginal flag raising ceremony.

By Andrew Robertson

City Council’s decision to fly the Aboriginal flag will “send a message” that it wants to strengthen its relationship with the local Aboriginal community, according to the CEO of the Healing Foundation. 

The distinctive black, red and yellow flag was yesterday raised for the first time outside Council’s administrative centre, where it will now fly daily alongside the Australian flag.

At a ceremony to mark the occasion yesterday morning, Richard Weston, a former CEO of the Maari Ma health service who now heads the Healing Foundation in Canberra, said it was a special day. 

He said the flag was important to Aboriginal people for a number of reasons, not least of which was for the simple comfort that its presence provided them wherever they lived.

“It does have meaning for our mob,” Mr Weston told the gathering.

“A lot of people think that symbolic gestures like this don’t mean as much as practical measures, but I think they do.” 

But the Aboriginal leader said “you do need both elements”, and he believed councillors were committed to improving the city’s relationship with Aboriginal people. 

Their unanimous decision to fly the flag was a reminder of that commitment.

“It will send a message about what the council wants to achieve.”

Barkindji Wilyakali elder Maureen O’Donnell told the gathering that it was an important day for all Aboriginal people.

She said the sight of the flag flying outside the council’s main building was “good for our people”, especially the next generation. 

“And what a good thing for them to come past here and see that flag flying.”

Deputy Mayor Dave Gallagher said the flag promoted greater understanding of Aboriginal people and their culture, and was about recognising “a meaningful relationship”.

“It’s about time this occurred and it’s great to see it today.”

Council paid for the flag pole while the expertise and labour was provided by TAFE teachers and their students.

TAFE head teacher and Councillor Jim Nolan said that many of those students involved in the project were indigenous.

“I’m proud to stand here today and say thank you for being involved.”

The BH Aboriginal Working Party, which suggested the flag pole be erected, said it now looked forward to working more closely with Council.

“Today celebrates not just a flag pole but the beginning of a partnership between the Aboriginal Community Working Party and the Council to build a sustainable and strong community, and a better future for all our people,” the group said in a statement.

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