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The Aboriginal Flag Will Fly Permanently on the Sydney Harbour Bridge by the End of 2022

The New South Wales Government will commit $25 million in the 2022–23 NSW budget to installing a third flagpole atop the bridge before the year is out.
By Sarah Ward
June 20, 2022
By Sarah Ward
June 20, 2022

Four months after announcing that the Australian Aboriginal flag will get a permanent berth atop the country's most famous man-made structure — the Sydney Harbour Bridge — the New South Wales Government has committed to making that promise a reality by the end of 2022.

A third flagpole will be added to the structure, giving the Aboriginal flag its own place to fly every single day of the year — instead of the current situation, where it is only on display for 19 days annually, for Australia Day, Sorry Day, Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week.

The NSW Government will commit $25 million in the 2022–23 NSW budget to installing the third Harbour Bridge flagpole, and will do so before the year is out. The bridge's flagpoles stand around 20 metres high — the same height as a six-storey building — while the flags themselves measure around nine metres by four-and-a-half metres, which means they need a strong attachment that's able to hold in all weather conditions.

"Our Indigenous history should be celebrated and acknowledged so young Australians understand the rich and enduring culture that we have here with our past," said NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet 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."

Mary and Andrew via Flickr.

Back in February, when the Premier first revealed that a third flagpole would be erected, he advised that it'd happen "as soon as possible". On exactly what date before 2022 is out that'll become a reality hasn't been announced, however, but there's now a concrete timeframe.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge currently has two flag poles, with one flying the Australian flag and, when the Aboriginal flag isn't on display on its allocated days, the other flying the NSW state flag.

The move to fly the Aboriginal flag permanently follows a five-year-long campaign by Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka, who also launched a campaign in 2020 to continue to call on the NSW government to make this exact move.

"The Aboriginal flag is a reminder that the country has a history before European arrival," Toka said two years ago. "I think it's really important to have a symbolic gesture on the bridge that identifies the true history of Australia, which is a starting point for conversation around greater issues affecting the Indigenous population."

After the first three years of Toka's campaign, she had amassed more than 157,000 digital signatures and the required 10,000 paper-based signatures to bring the issue to NSW parliament. However, when it was debated in the final NSW parliamentary session of 2019, the result then was that it would cost too much to construct a third flagpole to see the Aboriginal flag flying daily — which was what sparked her crowdfunding campaign to raise the $300,000 quoted by the government to 'fund the flag'.

Also in Aboriginal flag news this year, the Australian Government unveiled a copyright deal at the end of January with Luritja artist Harold Thomas, who designed the symbol, to make it freely available for public use.

The Aboriginal flag will start flying permanently on the Sydney Harbour Bridge by the end of 2022 — we'll update you when further details are announced.

Top image: Boyd159 via Wikimedia Commons.

Published on June 20, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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