Gabrielle Duykers, Naracoorte Community News
Tatiara District Council will permanently fly the Aboriginal flag, following a letter from a local woman condemning councillors over its absence.
Council currently flies the Australian, South Australian and Tatiara flags at the Dukes Highway town entrances to Bordertown and its Bordertown Council office.
In a letter to council, Ruby Schwarz said it was “unacceptable” that the Aboriginal flag not flown permanently, and was even more “disappointed” to see it missing on National Sorry Day and other days of Indigenous significance.
Furthermore, Ms Schwarz said the absent flag sent a negative message to tourists.
“Do you really want many (people’s) first impressions of our area to be one where we do not recognize and welcome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she wrote.
“I encourage the council to rethink their actions and erect a permanent Australian Aboriginal flag in towns throughout the Tatiara.”
At its September meeting, Tatiara CEO Anne Champness presented a report detailing options to address the issue.
“Flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags demonstrates Australia’s recognition of First Nation peoples, promoting a sense of community partnership and a commitment toward reconciliation,” the report stated.
“Flying the flags is a highly visible symbol of respect and can promote a sense of community, create a welcoming environment and demonstrate a commitment towards closing the gap.”
To purchase and install two new flag poles is estimated to cost about $6000.
Consequently, Ms Champness recommended council cease flying its Tatiara flag and use the existing pole to fly the Aboriginal flag.
Councillor Jamie Jackson said the idea was “absolute rubbish”.
“Personally, I do not want to see our Tatiara flag replaced by the Aboriginal flag,” Cr Jackson said.
“I thought we were all meant to be Australians.
“We don’t go fly the Italian flag and we don’t go fly the Afghanistan flag unless they’re ceremonial situations and I think that’s how it should remain.”
Cr Liz Goossens also said she had spoken to “a number” of locals on the issue who felt the council flag aptly represented the district’s multinational population.
Cr Robert Mock moved the original recommendation from Ms Champness.
“In my opinion, this is the way to go to represent our original inhabitants,” Cr Mock said.
“The Australian flag represents the other nationalities, and there is a certain disdain for that flag by Aboriginal communities.”
Cr Penniment then moved an amendment to the motion that council purchase two additional flag poles and fly all four flags.
“I don’t want to see the Tatiara flag disappear, I think that’s important to the district,” Cr Penniment said.
“But on the other hand, I think we have to acknowledge the original residents of Australia.”
The amended motion was carried. An installation date for the new flag poles is yet to be determined.
The City of Mount Gambier and Robe District Council are the only other Limestone Coast councils to permanently fly the Aboriginal flag outside their offices.
This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News, 6 October 2021.
Correction, Naracoorte Community News, 13 October 2021
In this article as originally published, it was reported that Ms Ruby Schwarz of Bordertown was a Bindjali woman, suggesting she was of Indigenous descent. Ms Schwarz resides on Bindjali country but is not a Bindjali woman nor of Indigenous heritage. The statement is retracted and we apologise for the error.