Notre Dame raises flags to celebrate NAIDOC week

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 7-7-2010

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Raising the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags side-by-side with the Australian flag for the first time was how The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus celebrated this year’s NAIDOC Week.

NAIDOC originally stood for 'National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee'. The committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.

Associate Professor Clive Walley, Head of Indigenous Health Curriculum in the Fremantle School of Medicine, initiated the special celebration which included a Welcome to Country by Dr Noel Nannup and featured a talk about the 2010 NAIDOC theme – Unsung Heroes; Closing the Gap by Doing it Their Way - by the Chief Executive Officer of Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, Ms Lesley Nelson. Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service plays a critical role in providing culturally appropriate primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Perth Metropolitan area.

“I think this inaugural NAIDOC event at Notre Dame will sit alongside many other cultural events and activities in Fremantle, embracing Indigenous culture, identity and diversity,” said Associate Professor Walley.

“The strong leadership and support shown by our Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond and Deputy Vice Chancellor Mark McKenna values Indigenous peoples contribution in Australia and acknowledges the importance of Nyungar culture here in Fremantle, especially for the Wajuk people.”

“The handing over of the flags to the Vice Chancellor symbolises a strong commitment to reconciliation by the University that can only forge stronger relationships and partnerships with Indigenous people and other Australians.”

The celebration was attended by Notre Dame staff, colleagues, friends and students, including Student President, Amy Rosario and Kerry Rotumah from Curtin University, who represented the Torres Strait Island people at the event.

After an introduction by Associate Professor Walley, the Vice Chancellor addressed staff and members of the community, explaining that the flags will be on permanent display in recognition of the University’s commitment to reconciliation.

In her welcome, she spoke of the flags importance in symbolising the University’s actions towards reconciliation.

“Today, we accept and fly these flags to recognise their symbolic value. We do so, knowing that symbols without a commitment to action are little more than gestures of tokenism and political correctness. At the same time, actions and commitment without appropriate public demonstration of respect can undermine and devalue the actions, rendering them invisible,” she said.

“It is important to both act and to be visible witness to our actions. We at Notre Dame have always been committed and acted towards reconciliation: we will continue to do so – and will continue to strive to do better and to do more. Our commitment to reconciliation, which we strive to promote primarily through the provision of higher education within a context of Catholic faith and values, sits together beautifully with this year’s theme for NIADOC week: Unsung Heroes, Closing the Gap by Leading Their Way.

“We will fly the flags to be witness to our commitment and, importantly, to remind us of our commitment,” said Professor Hammond.”

Media contact: Michelle Ebbs 08 9433 0610, 0408 959 138