Welcome to Kombumerri Country

Last week, as part of our College Harmony Week celebrations, Traditional Custodian Justine Dillion welcomed our students, staff and College community to Country.

Justine is a Kombumerri and Quandamooka woman – she is the Traditional Owner of the beautiful Gold Coast and Moreton Bay areas. Currently, Justine is the Project Coordinator for Ngarang-Wal Gold Coast Aboriginal Association Incorporated and Guanaba Indigenous Protected Areas, having also served on the Ngarang-Wal Board of Directors for the last 16 years. Prior to this, Justine taught as a Primary School Teacher and as an Indigenous Education Worker to maintain cultural connections.

Justine welcomed students and staff on to the grounds of her Kombumerri ancestors through a very special Welcome to Country and traditional Smoking Ceremony. A Welcome to Country is a ceremony performed by a local Aboriginal person to acknowledge and give support to events taking place on their traditional lands. Students were then engaged in a Smoking Ceremony, which involves smouldering native plants to produce smoke. This herbal smoke is believed to have cleansing properties as well as the ability to ward off any negative events. Justine also shared and discussed the appearances of animal totems and buck tucker with students. Did you know we have a plentiful supply of native bush tucker grown on campus?

We thank Justine for sharing her culture, expertise and connection to Country with our staff and students, and we look forward to working with her more in this space.


This ceremony also included the raising of the Aboriginal flag by our College Captains, Charley Ellwood and Charles Morris. Please read below for an excerpt of College Captain, Charley Ellwood’s speech.

On the 24 January 2022, the people of Australia were welcomed to the news that the federal government had reached an agreement with Luritja Aboriginal artist and designer of the flag, Harold Thomas. The flag was freed.

Good morning Ms Sheehy, Senior Leadership Team, staff and students. This flag is not only a representation of the Traditional Custodians of which we live, learn and work but is an enduring symbol of Indigenous strength, unity and voice that resonates around Australia. Ever since the announcement from the honourable Ken Wyatt, we have sort to ensure that the flag be raised at the front of our College. A message to all students on the importance of reconciliation.

It was truly an honour and privilege to be a part of such a monumental event for our College and the Kombumerri people of our Community. I want to give my thanks to Ms Stephanne Siberry and Mrs. Samantha Middleton for their tireless efforts in making this happen and to the class of 2021 for gifting us the Aboriginal flag. I would also like to extend my immense gratitude to Ms. Justine Dillion for her conduction of a Traditional Smoking Ceremony, sharing her experiences and connection with Kombumerri culture and welcoming us on to the land of her ancestors. Without the help of these amazing people I’m sure that this event would not have been as special as it was. On behalf of the student body of A.B Paterson College, we are incredibly appreciative of the contributions you have made at ensuring the success of the event.

The raising of the Indigenous flag is only one of many events that the College is undertaking on our journey of reconciliation. We hope to continue to build upon this progress and that Kombumerri culture one day resonates throughout all aspects of our College life. As a community, it is imperative that we embark on this journey together and ensure that our commitments to reconciliation are done so in a cohesive manner. Thank you for being a part of this first step. I encourage us all to reflect on what actions we can take today, both now and into the future. – Charley Ellwood, A.B Paterson College Captain

We look forward to sharing more with you in this space throughout the year. Baugull Wanyi, which means thank you in Yugambeh language.

Samantha Middleton - Junior School Curriculum Coordinator and Year 3 Teacher
Stephanne Siberry - Head of Library Services