Mark Allan and Richard Mason launched NAIDOC Week with flying flags.
Mark Allan and Richard Mason launched NAIDOC Week with flying flags. Renee Pilcher

NAIDOC flags fly high, 40 years on

THE Cooloola Aboriginal Services Incorporated marked the start of NAIDOC Week with a flag-raising ceremony in Gympie's Memorial Park yesterday morning.

The Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian flags were displayed on the park rotunda after circumstances stopped the flags being hoisted.

"As long as we raise them, that's our main thing," CASI president Aunty Lillian Burke said. "Flags will be flying all over Australia today. It's an icon - it's acknowledgement to the first Australians, the Aboriginal people," Aunty Lillian said.

Pastor Mark Allan blessed the flags and acknowledged the traditional land owners - the Gubbi Gubbi people - and Aunty Lillian talked about sharing culture.

"It's not just about raising the flags, it's about all family groups and all language groups coming together to share our culture in the communities," she said.

This year's NAIDOC Week theme is Spirit of the Tent Embassy 40 Years On, recognising when in 1972 Aboriginal activists fought for the recognition of land rights when they set up the first Aboriginal Embassy, under a beach umbrella on the then Parliament House lawn. Aunty Lillian recognised this history at the ceremony.

"Forty years ago four men went down to Canberra looking for a voice for our people and to right the injustices of our people, and that's what is being carried on today," she said.

CASI has applied for two flagpoles to be erected alongside the one in Memorial Park so all three flags can be flown together for the occasion.

A flag raising ceremony was also held at Gympie Hospital yesterday afternoon with community elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.

Gympie Times


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