Media Release

Flags raise new chapter of commitment to traditional owners

Share this:

21 March 2018
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait flags were raised today over the entrance of the AIMS Cape Cleveland headquarters.

More than 200 Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) researchers and staff are in Townsville this week as part of a planning workshop and to learn about the culture of the Indigenous sea country and land on which they do their research.

Indigenous elders of the Bindal community held a smoking ceremony and traditional welcome to country, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised at AIMS headquarters at Cape Cleveland for the first time today.

Staff also met AIMS’ first Indigenous Engagement co-ordinator Traceylee Forester, learned about bush tucker and the significant cultural stories of the Cape Cleveland site from Indigenous elder Uncle Russell Butler.

AIMS Chief Executive Officer Paul Hardisty said raising the two new flags and welcoming the Bindal elders to AIMS was the start of an exciting new chapter of understanding and commitment to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“By raising these Indigenous flags we want to signify that traditional owners, ranger groups and representative organisations are always welcome at AIMS sites,” Dr Hardisty said.

“We recognise natural synergies exist between our research interests and the management and protection of sea country interests of traditional owners across tropical waters of northern Australia – from Western Australia, and the Northern Territory, to the southern Great Barrier Reef,” Dr Hardisty said.


AIMS CEO Dr Paul Hardisty and staff shared in a smoking ceremony led by the elders of the Bindal community.


“We are working closely with Indigenous Australians – to foster better land and sea management based on rich traditions, excellent science, and local ecological knowledge.

Dr Hardisty said the AIMS’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Strategy sets out a plan which includes enriching the cultural awareness of sea country areas.

Bindal elder Eddie Smallwood said he was happy to see AIMS is working with traditional owner groups all around Australia and said Cape Cleveland was an important area culturally to the traditional people.

“It is important that we are sharing our knowledge and culture while we are on country and that we are able to carry out this spiritual healing through the smoking ceremony and sharing our stories,” Mr Smallwood said.

Media enquiries

Communications Officer Emma Chadwick

+61(07) 4753 4452

M: 0412 181 919