Government House Flag Raising Ceremony
Government House Flag Raising Ceremony

Formal unveiling of the new flag poles and the official raising for the first time of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at Government House.

Address by His Excellency the Honourable Chris Dawson AC APM, Governor of Western Australia

Formal unveiling of the new flag poles and the official raising for the first time of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at Government House.

Kaya. Wanjoo Whajduk Noongar boodjar

Good morning and welcome to Government House.

I pay my respects to the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation whose boodja we gather on today, and recognise the cultural connection to land, waters and community of all Traditional Custodians of country right across Western Australia.

I would like to pay my respects to Elders past and present – in particular those who are here today – the Birdiyas and Yorgas and I extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
I thank Barry Winmar for welcoming all of us onto Noongar boodjar, with the cultural authority and consent of the Elders.

Amongst us here this morning are:

  • Birdiyas, Yorgas and Elders
  • emerging leaders
  • former Governors
  • Representatives and members of Federal, State and Local Governments including current and former State and Federal Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs
  • Government, business and community leaders
  • Reconciliation partners,
  • staff, friends, one and all.

On this land, Aboriginal people have walked and gathered for thousands of years. As we have heard today from Barry this is a place of ceremonial significance and heritage.

It is a place for all Australians to come together as we are this morning. Among the significant events that have taken place, it is also the place where Whadjuk Noonjar people met Captain James Stirling, the first Governor of the State of Western Australia.

This land I am standing on is very special to all West Australians.

It is not only a place of ceremonial and historical significance, it is also a place on which we continue to meet to talk and walk together as one people.

Why are we about to raise four flags in this place?

Most importantly, it is a place of ceremonial significance for all people. It is also a place of our history in the past, the present and for the future.

As Western Australians, whether we be from Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal heritage we will see four flags raised.

The Australian National Flag will be raised second from the left. Since the year of the Australian Federation in 1901 the Australian National Flag has been our National Symbol.

We will also be raising the flag of Western Australia which has been the State Symbol since 1953.

In 1995 the Australian Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Islander flag were both proclaimed as flags of Australia.

From this day on, these four flags will proudly fly – together – on this land at Government House in perpetuity. These flags will not be lowered unless protocol dictates, as they will be lit at night all four flags will fly continuously from this day forward.

These flags are symbols of who we are as a State and as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, and as one nation of people.

These flags have been flown from many Government, non-Government and public places for many years and it is right and proper that all such flags be flown, not just on particular days, but on every day.

I take particular care in stating that flags of themselves are important symbols of our heritage, our culture and of us as a nation of people but they do not of themselves change our hearts.

A change of heart and a recognition of all people can be symbolised with flags but ultimately must come from within our hearts. We have this morning heard from our cultural and spiritual leaders’ messages and prayers of blessing.

The raising of these four flags is above politics and I ask that today’s ceremony not be misinterpreted as an attempt to influence the upcoming Constitutional Referendum but rather, that it be recognised as yet another step in our walk together in reconciling our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of Australia. Simply put, it is the right thing to do.

This ceremony is about showing respect to all Australians, irrespective of race.

You cannot gain respect unless you give respect.

Today is about respect, recognition and continuing our walk of reconciliation.

History can not be rewritten, but it can teach.

Seventeen years ago Governor Dr Ken Michael AC was sworn in here at Government House, an occasion that also marked the first time a representative of the Noongar nation had been invited to provide a formal welcome to a WA Governor.

That representative was Kim Collard and I would like to express my gratitude to both men who are here today, for helping continue the foundational changes at Government House.

I extend that gratitude to the many Noongar representatives and friends who in the years since have in turn offered a warm welcome to thousands of visitors to this building and this land.

Last year we took another healing step forward when Governor Beazley stood alongside descendants of Balbuk Yooreel as they unveiled a statue in her honour.

A 19th century fiercely proud and strong Whadjuk yorga, Balbuk fought for the rights and traditions of her people on this land.

Her statue sits less than a hundred metres from here, forever protecting her ancestral country, and every day a poignant reminder for us to be better…and do better.

As we have heard the blessings this morning I believe that this is a moment of significance in our journey of healing, about our faith and love for fellow Australians and a hope for our future.

It is now my privilege to formally recognise the permanent raising of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags – along side the National and State flags – here at Government House.


If I could invite those of you who are able to do so to please stand for the Australian national anthem. Officers in uniform who are not raising the flags are required to salute.


Thank you to the Royal Australian Navy Band WA… and to hear the national anthem featuring the Didgeridoo was particularly special, and I thank Able Seaman Lynton Roberts for making a special trip to join us today.

Thank you also to our ADC’s for their assistance.

I would like to finish up by thanking Kardan Construction for their hard work and cultural guidance in placing, and erecting these important flagpoles.

And our own Government House team for their efforts in redeveloping this important space to best reflect the heritage of this boodja.

This is indeed a momentous occasion and one that I know will stay with all of us right here (in hearts) for many years to come.

To continue this celebration it now gives me great pleasure to invite forward the Ngalak (Naalak) Nidja dancers, joined by Mr Jayden Boundary.


With many thanks to Barry, Jayden and the Ngalak Nidja dancers.

We have made history here today.

History we can build on.

History that brings us together.

History that offers new beginnings on this land, and in this House.

I thank all of you for joining us for this important ceremony and journey.

It is one we look forward to continuing to walk together.

I would now like to invite you all to make your way to the Garden area just to your right for morning tea. Our ADC’s will direct you, and I will join you shortly.

Thank you.


View and download a pdf version here.

View all Articles
Skip to content