Around 40 Katherine locals observed the official raising of the flags at the Civic Center this morning, in what is to be a packed week of Naidoc celebrations.
Elder of the local Wardaman / Dagoman clan group, May Rosas, opened the event with a Welcome to Country and a nod to her family who has lived in and around Katherine for generations.
"We need to really unify in this town and that will come when people know the truth," she said.
"For too long my people have missed out. But I, along with the emerging young leaders, we will be the voice."
For the first time in Katherine, the Indigenous flag was raised to fly highest on the centre pole.
Natoia Plummer brought her two young sons and sister-in-law to the event, to inspire them to take an active role in learning about their culture.
"Every place you go to you need to know who the Aboriginal custodians are," she said.
"It's important for my kids to know their skin names and some of their languages - it is important for them to know their culture."
Originally from Tennant Creek, she said Naidoc events were an opportunity to learn about the traditional custodians of the land - histories and stories she would like to pass on to her children.
"When we all come together it's not just my family, it's all the tribes and all the people in the town," she said.
"We celebrate to see our flags, it's pride for me."
Naidoc Week can be traced back to the 1920's, with groups seeking to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of First Nations people in Australia.
But Katherine Naidoc Committee member, Maddy Bower, said progression is at a standstill.
"The official opening is about everyone coming together and acknowledging our history, culture and achievements.
"There has not been enough education and we need to take a stance."
She said it was important to use the event as a catalyst to break down institutionalised racism and educate the emerging generation.
"There is unconscious bias in the community," she said.
"[The official opening] is about providing a safe space to have those conversations about what's going on and moving forward."
NAIDOC Week 2019 has kicked off under the theme of Voice. Treaty. Truth - Let's work together for a shared future, echoing the call for constitutional recognition for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people.
Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said this year's Naidoc Week celebrations were even more significant given the recent commitment by both sides of government to work together to bring about change.
"By applying a ground-up approach through co-design, we will work to further our priorities including closing the gap, addressing the shocking rates of Indigenous youth suicide, working through a thoughtful process for constitutional recognition and a voice for Indigenous Australians," he said.
This year, the Morrison Government committed $1.4 million to support Naidoc events in communities.
But the Katherine Naidoc Committee continues to struggle to fund the week-long agenda of events, with steep costs attached to hiring spaces and walking the main street for the annual march.
Naidoc Week runs from July 7 - 14 and a full list of events can be found here.
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