In a landmark move, the Aboriginal Flag is set to fly permanently on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Labelled as an essential step toward Closing the Gap, the NSW Government revealed earlier this week it had committed AUD$25 million to install a third flagpole by the end of the year.
State Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed the change in his 2022-23 budget 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,” Perrottet said in a statement. “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.”
Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka led the Fund the Flag mission by organising successful petitions and fundraising $300,000 towards the cost. Ms Toka said she was thrilled at the campaign’s success but believes this is only one step towards furthering the cause.”
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 in our country to our people, and it shows that we are moving forward,” she told NITV News.
According to the NSW Government, the move demonstrates a renewed focus on acknowledgement, helping to lay foundations for further rebuilding activities. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Franklin said flying the Indigenous Flag year-round is a critical step towards acknowledging First Nations people and their history.
“I am so excited we are one step closer to the Aboriginal flag finally being flown on the Sydney Harbour Bridge permanently, 365 days a year, seven days a week,” he noted in a government statement. “We are incredibly proud to be working in partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders on both symbolic and practical reconciliation.”
Raised on Australia’s most iconic bridge, the current flagpoles sit 20 metres high, roughly equivalent to a six-storey building. The flags require a special attachment to withstand all climate conditions to ensure stability and durability.
While a significant milestone for the state, the NSW Government also announced a AUD$401 million investment over four years that will benefit Closing the Gap and improve outcomes for Aboriginal people. Additionally, the budget shows AU$100 million in spending to increase safety for women and young girls, including upgrades to CCTV and lighting in public areas.