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First Nations flags fly as signal of reconciliation

A rural school’s gesture of their journey towards reconciliation has been welcomed by local Elders.

A group of students and staff in front of 3 flagpoles.

Former North Star Public School students (from front left) Dante Van Heerden, Tom Durkin and Sam Durkin with current students, staff and community members.

For the first time in the history of North Star Public School, the Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were flown side by side after the school in north-western NSW recently installed three new flagpoles.

North Star Public School Principal Kelly Jesser said the flags were part of the school’s “genuine first steps towards reconciliation” and would be flown each school day.

“[The flags] are raised as our 25 students come into school for the start of the day. Our philosophy is embracing culture ‘starts at the front gate’.”

“In becoming active, engaged and respectful citizens in our multicultural nation today, we must first understand the history of our nation.”

She said the three flags would serve as a symbol of respect for the traditional custodians of the land on which students grow and learn.

“The three flagpoles were a parting gift from three North Star Public School student leaders, Tom and Sam Durkin and Dante Van Heerden who returned to the school to proudly raise the three flags,” Ms Jesser said.

“The flags will stand proudly as a testament to the contribution of these three young leaders to their school community in all aspects of academic, sporting, social and cultural engagement during their primary education.”

Speaking at the school’s flag-raising ceremony at the end of Term 2, Barwon Network Director David Crowe acknowledged the leadership shown by the school.

“The flying of the flags is a positive step in the right direction,” Mr Crowe said.

Elders from Toomelah and Boggabilla attended the ceremony and expressed their deep gratitude to the school for their commitment to making these connections.

In a memorable morning of “tears, laughs and storytelling”, the Elders and the school community grew to appreciate an unrealised closeness between the North Star and Toomelah and Boggabilla communities.

Elder Aunty Dawn, along with Uncle Ranold, shared a moving insight into her connection with North Star.

“It opened everyone’s hearts so that we can all be friends, so we can walk together,” Aunty Dawn said.

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