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Taungurung Unfurls its Flag of Sovereignty and Unity

Posted by: Charles Pakana
Published: 23 May 2021
Categories: Audio | Community | Written

In a clear statement of “sovereignty never ceded” the Victorian-based Taungurung Land and Waters Council (TLaWC) unveiled and raised its sovereign flag at an event on Friday the 7th of May.

While the design of the flag was initially shared publicly in late 2020, Friday marked the first time that it has been officially raised. 

During a ceremony at the Council’s offices in Broadford, situated an hour’s drive north of the Melbourne CBD, around 60 people, many of whom were Taungurung Elders and community members, joined together to witness the flying of the first Victorian Traditional Owner flag.

“This flag is a powerful step in the direction of asserting sovereignty on [our] Country,” TLaWC CEO Matthew Burns told Connection Matters Radio (CMR). “It is a further step towards unity.

“Since mob came back in 2003 to recommence the progression of collective interests, we have been re-integrating ourselves with Country and taking responsibility for Country.”

Mr Burns went on to state that the flag is a symbol of the path along which the Taungurung people are treading in their journey to heal Country and knowledge.

A massive response

The flag’s uniquely asymmetrical design, which was selected from an initial submission response of 36 designs, is the work of Taungurung Elder Aunty Loraine Padgham.

In speaking to CMR about the flag, Aunty Loraine said that it helped represent the Taungurung strength and leadership within the Kulin nation, a traditional alliance of five Traditional Owner nations across south central Victoria.

“The flag shows that we are moving forward and making a name for ourselves,” she said. Matthew Burns (TLaWC CEO), Hon. Jaclyn Symes (Attorney General) and Uncle Steve Walsh.

Matthew Burns (TLaWC CEO), Hon. Jaclyn Symes (Attorney General) and Uncle Steve Walsh.

When asked about the seven stars on the flag, Aunty Loraine explained: “They represent the Pleiades constellation, which is known throughout the Kulin nation as the Seven Sisters. It forms part of our dreaming and is recognised throughout all Aboriginal communities across the country.”

Also in attendance at the raising of the flag was Victorian Attorney General Jaclyn Symes, MLC. Ms Symes, who is based in Broadford, has represented the Victorian Northern Region in the State’s Upper House since 2014.

When asked by CMR about the Victorian State Government’s reaction to the Taungurung statement that the flag represented sovereignty over Country, the Attorney General said: “For me, it’s about acknowledging the Registered Aboriginal Party here in the region.

“Obviously they work very well with government on advancing the rights of their people and I think a symbol of their identity is very welcome.”

Protecting the flag for the future

With Australia still coming to grips with the restrictions placed upon use of the Harold Thomas-designed Aboriginal flag, the TLaWC ensured it fairly gained rights for the flag in perpetuity. 

“When we opened this up for community designs we made it very clear that there was going to be a $10,000 prize,” Mr Burns said. “And with that they [the winning artist] would be signing over the rights to be held by the Taungurung Land and Waters Council.”

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