Office of the Governor Flagpole Unveiling and Reconciliation Walk
Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, the Honourable Craig Crawford MP; Mr Speaker, the Honourable Curtis Pitt MP; Former Governor of Queensland, the Honourable Leneen Forde AC; representing Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Seniors, Communities and Disability Services, Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Mr John-Paul Langbroek MP; Member for Southport, Mr Rob Molhoek MP; Member for Cooper, the Honourable Jonty Bush MP; Australian Defence Force representatives; representing Reconciliation Queensland, Dr Jackie Huggins AM, Ms Danielle Ah Boo and Ms Alex Hanlon; Elders, Aunty Lorraine Hatton OAM and Aunty Kerry Charlton; representatives from Health and Wellbeing Queensland, Deadly Choices and Netball Queensland; Acting Principal of The Murri School Ms Tanya Saltner, Deputy-Principals, staff and students; ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.
I begin by thanking Aunty Kerry Charlton for her Welcome to Country and paying my respects to the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and Elders – past, present, and emerging. I would also like to extend my respect to the First Nations people here with us today.
The past 55 years have seen our nation make significant progress towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Referendum in 1967 saw Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people acknowledged in the census for the first time; the High Court’s Mabo Decision in 1992 led to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands; and the landmark Bringing them Home report in 1997 led to the first Sorry Day in 1998 and the National Apology in 2008 by the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
National Reconciliation Week every year commemorates those important events and reminds us all that a great deal of healing is still needed for us to become a fully reconciled nation. Certainly, the theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week of “Be Brave, Make Change”, is a call to arms, prompting every one of us to play our role in taking action so we can become a strong, reconciled nation and a just and equal society.
Here at Queensland’s Government House, we have marked National Reconciliation Week since it began in 1996, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, art works and artefacts have been displayed prominently in the House for many years.
But this year, to emphasise the importance of recognition and reconciliation, we have installed these flagpoles as a new permanent home for the flags of our Indigenous peoples to fly alongside the Australian and Queensland flags.
This will allow the many thousands of people who visit Government House each year to see the flags and learn about their meaning and significance.
The powerful, symbolic design of the Aboriginal flag has become familiar around the world since the flag was first flown in Adelaide on National Aborigines’ Day, 50 years ago, and this year, Harold Thomas, the Central Australian artist who created the design, agreed to transfer the copyright of his design to the Commonwealth of Australia, as a symbol pride and unity.
This year also marks thirty years since a competition was launched for the design of a Torres Strait Islander flag.
Among the competitors was Bernard Namok Senior who first sketched his striking design, featuring a traditional dharri, seated at the dinner table in his Thursday Island home. His final design was declared the competition winner and was officially presented to the people of the Torres Strait in June 1992.
The striking designs and colours of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are symbols of the enduring strength of our Indigenous peoples and culture. I am proud and pleased to unveil their new permanent location here at Government House, where they will proudly fly as recognition of our First Nations people and as a public commitment toward reconciliation.
I thank The Murri School students for their participation today and invite them now to raise the flags.