Wednesday, 28 December 2022

Proclamation Day Ceremony

I thank the elders for cleansing and welcoming us with a smoking ceremony.

I thank Michael Kumatpi O’Brien for the words he shared, and I acknowledge Jeffrey Newchurch and his companions who camped overnight on this land, connecting with country ahead of this ceremony. I am also very happy to see Senior Kaurna Elder Lynette Crocker and Kaurna Elder Merle Simpson.

Rod and I are pleased to join you all this morning to mark 186 years since the Proclamation of South Australia.

Last December, here at the Patha Yunka, the bended gum, I expressed my support for fostering reconciliation in our state.

This is a broader endeavour than what we see here in the City of Holdfast Bay, a model in some respects though Holdfast Bayrepresents.

I outlined a view in which we can acknowledge the privations and achievements of our earliest settlers – including my own forebears -who built a colony now ranked among the world’s most liveable cities, while also acknowledging the unique history and special connection to country that Aboriginal people have with the land of South Australia. I have since heard more about and seen some of the effects of the trauma many Aboriginal people have experienced since settlement.

I spoke of how the good intentions toward Aboriginal people, encompassed in thefoundational documents of our state, did not come to fruition.

And I shared my experience of the truth telling process here in the City of Holdfast Bay, spending time with elders and visiting theaward-winning ‘Tiati’ Truth Telling exhibition, the result of years of talks, deliberations and trust-building between the Council and Kaurna people.

In the past 12 months, it has been my privilege to meet a wide range of indigenous and non-indigenous South Australians, and to bear witness to what is possible when both parties commit to a process of inclusion, truth telling and reconciliation.

Two highlights of the year have been travelling to the APY Lands, and spending time with local Aboriginal communities in the towns of Ernabella, Amata and Umuwa, as well as visiting Lot 50 Kanyanyapilla at McLaren Vale, where I learned about the cultural mapping and ecological regeneration projects taking place on this land.

This year I have been pleased to see our public institutions and community organisations take new steps on the path of reconciliation.

In June, I attended the Kaurna Reburial at Wangayarta Smithfield Memorial Park of remains held by the South Australian Museum - the second reburial on this site.

Like the Tiati exhibition in Holdfast Bay, Wangayarta is the result of years of talks and deliberations between a public institution andthe Kaurna people.

Earlier this month I launched the New Visitor Centre and exhibition at the Charles Sturt Museum in Grange.

I was pleased to see the new exhibition of Sturt’s life move beyond the traditionaldepiction of a ‘colonial explorer’, challenging romantic notions of the history of exploration in Australia and attempting to consider the viewpoint of Aboriginal people at the time.

I am proud to have witnessed Kaurna elders play a key role in parliamentary ceremonies this year.

In March, during the official Opening of Parliament, we witnessed a welcome to country ceremony by Uncle Mickey, who generously gave me his still warm clapping sticks, which now have pride of place in the public rooms of Government House.

In September, Uncle Moogy performed a smoking ceremony and spoke eloquently and with feeling on the steps of Parliament House during the Proclamation of King Charles the Third, an event attended by thousands of South Australians.

Two days before, on the day of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Uncle Moogy, Uncle Jeffrey and Yuandamarra Kiely offeredto perform a smoking ceremony at the statue of Her Majesty in the grounds of Government House.

It was a generous and powerful gesture by the elders, and one that touched many of the visitors in our grounds, and no doubt others in the community.

This year Rod and I have been pleased to host a range of events at Government House to honour the outstanding work of Aboriginal people.

These include the Gladys Elphick awards, in memory of the South Australian activist and community leader, as well as the Wisdom Treasure Awards, an international recognition of elders in service to their communities.

They also included a reception to welcome participants in the Purrumpa Conference, a national gathering and celebration of First Nations arts and culture, the first convened by the Australia Council in 50 years; as well as a reception to acknowledge participants in the Kuwa Circles Program with Adelaide Football Club, assisting young Aboriginal Women to pursue careers in STEM.

Notably, Government House hosted a dedication ceremony for the permanent raising of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, alongside the state and national flags, for the first time in our grounds.

The permanent inclusion of flags gives recognition to the history of the land and the importance of country.

And it marks a permanent and important contribution by Government House in support of South Australia’s reconciliation journey.

Our next step is to undertake a process of culturally mapping our site pre- and post-settlement, in which we are in the early stages.

We want to incorporate a more complex and complete historical understanding into our appreciation and our presentation of the site.

This process is already revealing stories that may previously have been hidden or interpreted in very specific ways, shedding light on the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people in the early years of colonisation.

In time, by sharing these publicly, we hope Government House becomes even more trulya house for all South Australians.

I look forward to sharing our learnings with you and the broader community as the mapping process unfolds.


I thank sincerely the indigenous and non-indigenous South Australians I have met thispast year who are committed to reconciliation, and actively working towards it in our community.

In the past 12 months I have been reminded of the importance for me personally, and for everyone in our community, of listening deeply and patiently to the voices of the Kaurna people, and all Aboriginal Australians.

The wisdom and perspective of elders offers us insight into the long history of the lands we call South Australia, as well as how to care for them.

In light of climate change and natural disasters such as bushfires and floods, this has never been more important.

As Governor, in 2022, it has been my honourto support the many activities and initiatives under way that promote indigenous voices and perspectives.

I vow to continue to do all I can to make more room for indigenous people to share their perspectives, their stories and their points of view and for these to be listened to with respect, to be understood and to be learned from.

In 2023 I look forward to continuing to walk the path of reconciliation with you all, pursuing truth telling, unity and harmony.

And I look forward, shortly, to presenting the Governor’s Civics Awards for Schools to students whose generation will help shape our future.

Coming events