By Colin MacGillivray
It was a day of celebration and pride for Taungurung people on Friday as the group’s sovereign flag was raised for the first time in Broadford.
About 50 people attended a ceremony at Taungurung Land and Waters Council’s (TLaWC) Broadford office, including Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes and representatives from Mitchell Shire Council, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Department of Justice and Community Safety.
The flag was designed by TLaWC board member Aunty Loraine Padgham and was chosen in a vote from a field of 36 entries in October last year, but could not be officially unveiled at the time because of COVID-19 restrictions.
It is the first sovereign flag created by a traditional owner group in Victoria.
Ms Padgham said she incorporated many elements that were important to Taungurung people.
“One of my first thoughts was to look at the flags of other nations, particularly the south African nations, because some of those flags send a really powerful message and I wanted to emulate that sort of power in symbolism,” she said.
“I looked at what things I could incorporate into the flag from our culture and embed into the design using colours from our country and elements of our Dreamtime stories.”
The star cluster Pleiades is part of the flag’s design, representing the story of the Seven Sisters.
The land council’s chief executive Matt Burns said the Seven Sisters story was significant in many Aboriginal nations across Australia.
“We’ve also got ochre, and this is representative of our country,” he said.
“There are a lot of definitions that can come with [the yellow line]. It’s the trajectory of where we’re going as a people, but it’s also our ancestral connection all the way back to our old people from where we are now. Moreover, it’s representative of us as the people of rivers and mountains.
“There’s also black, which represents our collective people.”
Mr Burns said he hoped the flag would soon fly across Taungurung country.
“I’d like to call for shire councils to adopt the Taungurung flag to be flown in townships and at the front of council buildings,” he said.
“I want our partners in Parks Victoria to also take that on, so that when we drive onto country in parks and reserves that are owned by the Taungurung people, we see our flag flying really proudly on country.”
Ms Symes said the flag embodied ‘the proud, resilient spirit of the Taungurung people’.
“The symbolism in the flag speaks of [the Taungurung] connection to country, and I think seeing it around locally will be a fantastic symbol to Taungurung people and a mark of respect and recognition that all Victorians should have for our traditional owners,” she said.
“What the flag says to me is that the Taungurung nation is rising, reasserting its identity and reclaiming its sovereignty, and I’m proud that it is doing so.
“There are a lot of things we still need to get right in advancing the causes of Aboriginal people, and this is a step in that direction.”
Ms Padgham said she hoped the flag would be an enduring symbol for Taungurung people.
“My hope is that it becomes a prominent feature on Taungurung land so that when you’re moving around you know where you are,” she said.
“Taungurung country takes up about 11 per cent of Victoria, so it’s quite a large area and it would be just wonderful to see flags flying in national parks, tourist venues and council chambers.
“I hope the flag will be around for many, many, many generations and that our family will always be connected with it. It’s a very proud moment for us.”