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Mayor’s Proclamation Day speech

Sunday 2 January 2022

It is a great honour to stand here today with you all to mark this significant occasion – the 185th Proclamation of South Australia.

On the 28th of December in 1836, the then Governor John Hindmarsh – while standing under the shade of a huge gum tree – read the Proclamation Document that set the moral tone for the new province.

Marines from the Buffalo – the ship on which Governor Hindmarsh arrived to Holdfast Bay - fired a royal salute to the British flag, followed by rifle salute to the Governor with 15 guns.

And so, this date has become enshrined in our history as South Australians.

It’s a date that can’t be changed.

What happened on that day can’t be changed.

The way which that event – and before that, the arrival of colonists to Holdfast Bay – impacted on the lives of the Kaurna people, can’t be changed.

But today, we are lucky. And you might wonder why?

We’re lucky because, as a community, we have the power to change how we mark this occasion – starting today and in years to come.

From what was once a celebration of the colonists... is now a commemoration and acknowledgment of our shared histories, together with the Kaurna Nation.

Walking together, side by side, sharing the stories of our history that are of equal importance to our community and our state.

Here at Holdfast Bay, we began this journey on the path of our shared history several years ago with our respectful relationship with the Kaurna Nation.

It’s since turned into a partnership and that is something I am immensely proud of.

Our focus has been to work together to deliver shared goals, projects and outcomes.

A perfect example of this is the ground-breaking, and internationally-acclaimed, Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka exhibition at Glenelg’s Bay Discovery Centre.

Translating to Truth Telling Together, the exhibition does just that.

It challenges the taught history of our state, and shows both European and Kaurna perspectives of historical events in South Australia - running parallel and alongside each other.

“History shows that we must understand the truths of the past to avoid repeating the wrongs of the past,” the exhibition’s description says.

That message can also be applied to this occasion today.

What was once a celebration of the colonisation of South Australia has evolved into this commemoration with a focus on the shared history of this event.

Although most of us are gathered here this morning, this year’s commemoration actually began yesterday afternoon.

Kaurna set up camp here at Patha Yukuna – or crooked gum.

And with open arms, they welcomed others to join them to sit around the cultural fire.

To meet - talk - share stories and learn.

In the words of Kaurna Elder Jeffery Newchurch - Once you start the journey with accepting each other’s truths, accepting the truths of the past, then you start that journey of talking together, walking together.

This journey we are taking together has extended to the installation of a new piece of public art, which we are proud to be unveiling today.

Papa Tjukurpa, or Dingo Story, is a sculpture created by Indigenous artist Elizabeth Close together with Clancy Warner and we first saw the artwork when it was included in the Brighton Jetty Sculptures exhibition held earlier this year.

Together, the dingoes reflect the strong spiritual and cultural connection that the Traditional Owners from across Australia have with country.

My hope going forward is that people will be drawn closer to view the dingoes, and then take a moment to read the sign which explains Kaurna’s connection to this site and their story.

What I also love is that this sculpture, and its message and story, shares this space with a plaque that is dedicated to Mary Thomas - one of South Australia’s founding mothers.

Once again, we have our shared histories together in one place – the Dingo sculpture, demonstrating Kaurna’s connection to country, standing alongside a memorial to Mary, who arrived in Holdfast Bay on the 8th of November in 1836. She was on board the new colony’s first passenger ship, the Africaine.

Mary lived here, at the Old Gum Tree, for six months and diarised those early years of colonial life.

She wrote about how the women at the time gained important knowledge from the local indigenous women – the Kaurna people - including what foods were good to eat and even bushfire management.

She was among the first to sit alongside the Kaurna women to watch a corroboree.

Mary also noted in her diaries the many attributes of the Kaurna people, which were shared by indigenous Australians as a whole – their friendliness, easy-going nature and sense of humour.

These are now words we use to describe ourselves as Australians.

I like to believe that it was from groups such as the Kaurna, that Mary and the other first European settlers learnt how to be what we now describe as “Australian”.

We now have the opportunity to remember those ancestors such as Mary who contributed so much to where we are today - but also the Kaurna, to whom we also have a great debt.

I speak on behalf of Holdfast Bay’s elected members and staff when I say that we are all very proud to be a part of this place, and to contribute in our own way, to its rich history.

As we move closer towards the end of another challenging year, I would urge everyone to pause, and to reflect on all that has gone before us.

Despite the continuing challenge of living with COVID, we really are blessed to live in South Australia.

And for many of us, we’re even more fortunate to be able to call Holdfast Bay our home.

We have a wonderful, supportive community who have a strong desire and willingness to help others.

This is evident with our amazing group of dedicated volunteers to our local residents, who have continued to support Holdfast Bay businesses, traders and tourism operators during almost two years of uncertain times.

I am looking forward to 2022 with fresh optimism and hope, and wish you all a prosperous and safe year ahead.

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