Aboriginal flag to fly on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge


Aboriginal flag to fly on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge every day as NSW spends $25million installing a third flagpole

  • NSW Premier greenlit funding for permanent Aboriginal flag on Harbor Bridge
  • The $25 million will be used for engineering and construction of third flagpole
  • The Aboriginal flag has previously been flown temporarily on the bridge 
  • Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka has been campaigning for three years for the flag 

The Aboriginal flag will be permanently flown atop Sydney Harbour Bridge by the end of the year following a five-year-long grassroots campaign. 

Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka led the push to give the flag a prime position on Sydney Harbour for 365 days each year by organising successful petitions and fundraising $300,000 towards the cost.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet this week committed another $25million for construction work on the bridge to install the third flagpole ahead of the state’s budget announcement on Tuesday. 

Mr Perrottet said flying the flag alongside the Australian and NSW state flags is an important gesture towards Closing the Gap and addressing inequality.

The Aboriginal flag will be permanently flown atop Sydney Harbor Bridge after previously  being flown only on special occasions such as Australia Day and NAIDOC week (pictured)

The Aboriginal flag will be permanently flown atop Sydney Harbor Bridge after previously  being flown only on special occasions such as Australia Day and NAIDOC week (pictured)

Indigenous activist Cheree Toka (pictured) has been fighting for three years to have the Aboriginal flag flown permanently on Sydney's Harbour Bridge and was thrilled with the funding announcement

Indigenous activist Cheree Toka (pictured) has been fighting for three years to have the Aboriginal flag flown permanently on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and was thrilled with the funding announcement 

‘Our Indigenous history should be celebrated and acknowledged so young Australians understand the rich and enduring culture that we have here with our past,’ Mr Perrottet said in his pre-budget statement on Sunday.

‘Installing the Aboriginal flag permanently on the Sydney Harbour Bridge will do just that and is a continuation of the healing process as part of the broader move towards reconciliation.’

The flagpoles are about 20 metres high, the same as a six-storey building, while the flags require an attachment strong enough to withstand all weather conditions.

Transport for NSW and Aboriginal Affairs will engage with key stakeholders about the project.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean (left) and Premier Dominic Perrottet (right) have made some pre-Budget funding announcements on Sunday

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean (left) and Premier Dominic Perrottet (right) have made some pre-Budget funding announcements on Sunday

Mr Perrottet had previously committed to giving the Aboriginal flag a place on the Harbour Bridge in February.

The funding, however, provides a guarantee it will be in place before next year after consultants initially said engineering and construction work could take up to two years. 

‘I can’t see why it would take that long… I’ll climb up there and fly it myself if I need to,’ he said when announcing the decision.

Ms Toka said she was thrilled at the success of the campaign. 

‘I think this is really important for us as Indigenous people, achieving reconciliation through recognition,’ she said.

‘While I know a flag is symbolic, it does spark conversation around the unjust things that are happening on Country to our people, and it shows that we are moving forward,’ she told NITV News.

The passionate advocate now has her sights set on other places the flag can be displayed after having a similar win in Sydney’s Inner West Council this year. 

She also said the campaign is not yet finished with the next step being a change in protocol to ensure future premiers cannot remove the flag. 

Ms Toka (pictured) organised a successful petition and raised more than $300,000 towards the cost

Ms Toka (pictured) organised a successful petition and raised more than $300,000 towards the cost

Other funding announced on Sunday ahead of the state budget includes $37.9 million to improve before and after school care services and $206 million towards a sustainable farming program.

Treasurer Matt Kean says the landmark program will reward farmers who voluntarily reduce carbon emissions and protect biodiversity.

The NSW government also committed $56.4 million to the creation of a four-day walking track at the Dorrigo Escarpment through the Gondwana Rainforests on the NSW mid-north coast.

Environment Minister James Griffin said the funding was the largest capital investment in any NSW national park.

‘I want everyone who comes to our NSW national parks as a visitor to leave as a conservationist, and this world-class Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk helps us achieve that,’ Mr Griffin said.

The Aboriginal flag being flown on the bridge was previously debated in parliament in 2019 but was knocked back due to the construction of a third flag being 'too costly' (pictured: Ms Toka and supporters)

The Aboriginal flag being flown on the bridge was previously debated in parliament in 2019 but was knocked back due to the construction of a third flag being ‘too costly’ (pictured: Ms Toka and supporters)

Some $28 million has also been committed to the state’s farm forestry industry, with funds going to the support and education of farmers following the introduction of a new code of practice this year.

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the investment reflects the increasingly important role farm forestry will play in supporting the sustainable timber industry.

Women in small business will also gain free access to TAFE courses and professional advice thanks to $15 million over the next four years.

Mr Kean says more than 95 per cent of businesses in NSW are small businesses but only a third are run by women.

The Perrottet government is due to hand down its 2022-23 state budget this Tuesday.

Mr Perrottet, Mr Kean and Planning Minister Anthony Roberts are scheduled to make a further budget announcement in Sydney’s northwest later on Sunday morning.

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