A traditional smoking ceremony heralded the first official raising of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at Flinders’ main campus.
Kaurna leader Karl Winda Telfer and the Paitya dancers gave a cultural welcome to country, rotating a spear to light tinder through friction so that the flags could be smoke cleansed before hoisting.
Aboriginal elder Tauto Sansbury, Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling, State MP Katrine Hildyard representing Premier Jay Weatherill, Dean of the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement Professor Daryle Rigney and Flinders Indigenous Student Officer Latoya Rule spoke about the powerful symbolism of the event.
Ms Rule drove the push for the flagpoles to be erected, and received immediate and unqualified support from Professor Stirling.
“In terms of Indigenous engagement, Flinders has very much to be proud of, but, in common with the rest of the nation, it has very much more to do,” Professor Stirling said. “Today’s flag-raising ceremony is a token, albeit an important one, that will remind us every day of the important work that is yet to be done to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to value their cultures, and to realise equality – not just here at the University, but across Australia.”
In recent weeks two new flagpoles were installed on the front lawn of Registry Road on to provide a permanent home to the flags.
Indigenous elders told the ceremony they hope that the Kaurna flag might one day be added, in acknowledgement of the University’s home on Kaurna Land. The flag raising marked Flinders’ NAIDOC Week, which is celebrated later than the national observances, when staff and students return from the semester break.