Raising the Aboriginal flag at the Ballina council chambers for the first time are (from left) Ballina mayor Phillip Silver, MP
Raising the Aboriginal flag at the Ballina council chambers for the first time are (from left) Ballina mayor Phillip Silver, MP

Flying flag uplifting for Bundjalung elder

By DAWN COHEN

AS Bertha Kapeen watched the Aboriginal flag flutter in front of the Ballina Shire Council Chambers for the first time, she felt a new sensation in her chest ? belonging.

"I have been waiting for 70 years to feel this feeling," the Bundjalung elder said, struggling for words to describe the experience.

"Today, we belong."

The flag raised by Aunty Fanny Roberts was approved for installation by the Ballina Shire Council three months ago.

The Australian flag and the NSW State flag were also installed on a new flag pole in front of the chambers in a ceremony attended by 20 people yesterday morning.

State MP for Ballina Don Page acknowledged the land as Bundjalung territory before he raised the State flag.

"Given the violence happening down south, this is an important event," he said.

"The Aboriginal community has led the way in conflict resolution by sitting around and having a yarn to sort things out.

"Everybody could learn something from that.

"The people involved in the violence down south, should have a cold shower and think about talking instead."

Ballina mayor Phillip Silver said the flag was a small step in improving Ballina's relationship with the indigenous community.

"Cronulla is an example of what can go wrong if you don't take those steps," he said.

"We are all privileged to be here to see these three flags raised today."

The flags will generally fly daily, although occasional changes may be made.

The State flag may be replaced with the shire flag, general manager John Christopherson said.



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