For 346 days of every year the Sydney Harbour bridge flies two flags: the Australian and NSW State Flags. On the other 19 days (including January 26, Sorry Day, Reconciliation Week and Naidoc Week), the Aboriginal Flag is pulled out of storage and hoisted up in place of the NSW one. So why isn’t it a permanent fixture?
A question Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka has been asking for a long time, and has spent the last three years campaigning to get this situation fixed.
“The Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks,” Toka told Broadsheet. “It’s important for the flag to fly on that bridge alongside the Australian flag for [locals and] international visitors to see a representation of the true Australia, and to be able to spark a conversation about the Aboriginal people and the true history and culture of Australia”.
Why hasn’t it happened?
Toka started a Change.com petition in 2017, and once she gained 10,000 physical signatures (plus 164,671 digital ones, so far) she was able to take it up with NSW parliament. So far, there have been plenty of excuses not to fulfil such a simple request.
The latest excuse being that installing a third flagpole would cost too much — so Toka is raising the funds herself.
She started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the full amount of installing a flagpole on top of the harbour bridge, which she researched to be around $300,000.
“I was stunned [that] the final hurdle in respectfully recognising the land the bridge is built on came down to cost,” Tuka says on her campaign page. “The solution, I will pay for it myself. I need your help to make this happen.”
Since its creation at the beginning of June 2020, the campaign has raised $34,720.
How can you help?
“Most people are stunned when I tell them that the Aboriginal flag is only raised 19 days each year on our iconic bridge,” says Toka.
“To see it fly permanently alongside the Australian and New South Wales flags will recognise and celebrate our indigenous heritage each and every day”.
(Lead image: Pexels / Simon Clayton)
Kassia is the Editor of AWOL, and a straight-up travel addict. She was born without a sense of direction, yet an intense desire to explore the world. As such, she's lost 90% of the time but she's learned to roll with it. You can catch her latest adventures on Instagram @probably_kassia.