Today was a historic day in Melbourne, as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised permanently at Victoria's Government House. Previously, the flags were only raised on special occasions.
During a ceremony that honoured both the area's rich Aboriginal heritage, and acknowledged Melbourne's diverse and multicultural present, Elders and government officials celebrated the highly symbolic raising of the flags admitting it had been a 'long time in the making'.
The Governor of Victoria, the Honorable Linda Dessau AC recognised it was important that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags flew side by side with the Australian flag and the Victorian state flag.
"On behalf of the people of Victoria, we here at Government House – the State House – are attempting to take just one of the many steps needed on that pathway [to healing]. It is a symbolic step, but an important one. Symbols matter," she said during the ceremony.
"This flag raising ceremony has been recently arranged but it has long been in the making.”
“A flag is just one gesture and there is so much work to be done together,” the Hon Ms Dessau added.
“I know the symbolism of today does matter ... They give instant recognition of the history of the land.”
The Governor also acknowledged the sacred land on which she was standing and said she was excited to take this step towards reconciliation.
"This House stands on land that was nurtured and cared for by Indigenous people across many millennia," the Governor said at the flag raising ceremony.
Aunty Di Kerr and Aunty Caroline Briggs opened the event with a Welcome to Country on behalf of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurung peoples, while Jaeden Williams conducted the smoking ceremony.
During the Welcome to Country, Aunty Caroline spoke about how all Melbourne residents can care and feel pride for the land's rich Aboriginal history.
“Melbourne today is the host of many people, from many different places, and we call on them to respect our sacred ground,” she said.
“What we celebrate today is the spirit of generosity that is alive today in Melbourne’s culture.”
Aunty Di Kerr echoed that sentiment, by speaking about how ancient traditions must be carried on.
"We live in a contemporary society, but we [Aborignal people] still have to honour our traditions,” she said.
“That’s very important to us.”
After the ceremony, Aunty Caroline told NITV News the flag raising at this particular location was special because of the cultural significance of the land.
"It was about the women drumming, it's about because of her we can. It's about that celebration that 180 years, we can come back here and talk about this beautiful ceremonial place, which is also part of the British empire as well," Aunty Caroline told NITV News.
"But it's also about the traditions of the Boonwurrung and the Woi Wurrung coming together."
"It is not hard to imagine the hurt and chaos caused when Europeans arrived. As a community, we have struggled to find the ways to overcome it.
Following the raising of the flags, two vocal performances were heard from Worowa Aboriginal College, before a shivering crowd was invited back to the drawing room of Government House for some light refreshments.
The raising of the flags to remain permanently on the Victorian Government House comes after Alice Springs raised the Aboriginal flag for the first time on ANZAC Hill for NAIDOC week, after a 30-year struggle.
Demand has grown in Sydney to fly the Aboriginal flag atop the Harbour Bridge 365 days per year, as its currently flown just 15 days per year.