Posted on June 3, 2022

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags Permanently Fly at Government House

Rebecca Opie, ABC, May 27, 2022

For the first time in its 183-year history, South Australia’s Government House will permanently fly the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag.

Governor Frances Adamson said four new flag poles had been installed on the lawn outside Government House, which are visible from King William Street and North Terrace.

“That will enable us for the very first time ever to fly permanently the four flags – the Australian flag, the state flag of South Australia, the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag.”

“I wanted to do it because along the reconciliation journey there are many things that are important but symbolism is certainly one of them.”

There has previously only been three flag poles on the roof of Government House.

“We just haven’t flown here other than on very special occasions the Australian Aboriginal flag or indeed the Torres Strait Islander flag,” Ms Adamson said.

Ms Adamson told ABC Radio Adelaide Breakfast that it was something she had wanted to change since she was sworn in as Governor in October last year.

“It was a relatively easy thing to change that inside the house, in the ballroom, in the area where we welcome many South Australians, but it was a little harder to arrange to do that outside,” she said.

Flags inclusion ‘long overdue’

The flag-raising ceremony was held this morning to coincide with the start of National Reconciliation Week.

Ms Adamson said it was “long overdue”.

“It was first flown in Tarntanyangga — Victoria Square — in 1972 so that was 50 years ago,” she said.

“These things do take time, people don’t necessarily focus on them but it’s a focus of mine, it has been for a number of years.

South Australia’s Attorney General Kyam Maher raised the Australian Aboriginal flag.

Indigenous woman and AFL executive Tanya Hosch raised the Torres Strait Islander flag.

World War II veteran 102-year-old Keith “Chook” Fowler raised the Australian national flag and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Lara Nguyen raised the state flag.

Mr Maher — the only Indigenous person ever elected to South Australian parliament — said flying the flags at Government House was “180 years or so overdue”.

“The pride non-indigenous Australians take in having the oldest living culture the world’s ever seen in this country I think has changed a lot during my lifetime,” he said.

“There is still a long way to go. These sorts of symbols are overdue but they are very, very welcome.”

As a long-term project, Ms Adamson said she would be working with the Aboriginal community to carry out “cultural mapping” of the Government House site.

“So we can better tell, or at least tell in a more comprehensive and historically accurate way the history of this site going back much, much further than we’ve often done it,” she said.