Poignant Flag-raising ceremony marks start of NAIDOC week

Published 05 July 2016

More than 100 people attended the University of New England’s Flag-raising Ceremony on the lawns of Booloominbah today to celebrate the start of NAIDOC Week.Tyrone Blair

Respected Elder, Mr Steve Widders, welcomed Elders, community members, staff and students to Country.

“We are here to celebrate the oldest living customs of our nation and respect the special place Aboriginal people have in the nation’s history,” Mr Widders said.

Welcoming the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Annabelle Duncan and University senior executives, Mr Widders praised the spirit of inclusion fostered under their direction.

Mr Rob Waters, a PhD student researching Aboriginal stories, referenced this year’s theme “Songlines – The living narrative of our nation” in his speech.

“The Songlines given to us by our ancestors are a jigsaw of stories that connect from one side of the country to the other. They encourage us to look after ourselves, each other, our children and our land,” Mr Waters said.

“We have been doing this from the first sunrise.”

Professor Annabelle Duncan acknowledged the priceless cultural importance of Songlines and Dreaming stories as well the need to protect this legacy for generations to come.

“UNE is committed to helping preserve this rich history,” Prof Duncan said.

“Undertaking research in this area encourages staff and students to share knowledge and engage in dialogue, actions that foster mutual understanding and respect.”

The ceremony concluded with Tyrone Blair playing the didgeridoo while the Aboriginal flag was slowly raised.

Guests, including Elders Ms Barbara Ahoy, Ms Linda Widders, Ms Leslie Widders and Ms Lorna Hagan, then met for morning tea at Oorala Aboriginal Centre.