THE Aboriginal flag is an important factor in recognising and affiliating with indigenous identity, and is so much more than a material-based icon.
The flying of the Aboriginal flag is a strong symbol of reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, which reflects on our shared histories and marks the communities’ appreciation for the traditional custodians of this land.
So why then is Cabonne council refusing to fly the Aboriginal flag outside their chambers?
Several months ago indigenous Blayney woman Nyree Reynolds fought Blayney Shire Council who also refused to fly the Aboriginal flag.
Nyree fought for 10 years to have the council fly the flag, and her persistence and passion paid off this year, allowing Blayney locals, to witness “the great native flag being cuddled by the wind alongside the Australian one”.
Cabonne Council however, does not appear to share Blayney’s view in acknowledging indigenous rights. In fact, when I personally made a phone call to Cabonne Council regarding which flags they fly outside their council chambers, my ears were met with the cold, adamant reply of: “There is only one flagpole at Cabonne Council, and we only fly the Australian flag.”
Such a cool ignorance towards the idea of flying the Aboriginal flag sparks my curiosity as to whether Cabonne Council officials have ever even laid eyes on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also referred to as UNDRIP, a government framework designed to bring an end to indigenous oppression and enforce freedom of discrimination.
UNDRIP states in article six that “every indigenous individual has the right to nationality”.
Nationality is inextricably linked to recognition of a national flag, a flag which indigenous people possess and fly in honour of their cultural identity, a flag that Cabonne Council do not view as important enough to be seen by the public to acknowledge that identity.
Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Commissioner, delivered an important speech in 2010, emphasising that “the Australian government has indicated, most poignantly through the national apology that it seeks in good faith a resetting of the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples based on partnership and mutual respect”.
How can a governing body such as Cabonne Council truly believe this statement when they will not fly the Aboriginal flag?
To ignore the flag is to ignore the existence of Aboriginal culture and identity, and that certainly is not resetting any relationships, nor is it showing any forms of partnership or respect.
UNDRIP also emphasises that “the rights herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world”, and yet simple rights such as the right to fly a flag are ignored.
Mr Gooda also refers to the fact that “rights are only rights if they are exercised” and it is not hard to miss Cabonne Council’s blatant disregard for exercising indigenous Australian rights, and all indigenous Australians’ right to dignity and well-being.
There are also documents sent to schools that express the importance of cultural recognition through the Aboriginal flag. The symbolism and importance represented by the flag is literally embedded into teachers’ manuals, and is taught to children as young as kindergarten.
Every single individual possesses the right to nationality and dignity.
Cabonne Council may claim to respect the rights of all individuals but actions speak a lot louder than words.
Shame Cabonne Council, shame.