The Australian Aboriginal flag will permanently replace the New South Wales state flag in flying next to the Australian flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australian authorities have announced.
This comes after Cheree Toka, an Indigenous Kamilaroi woman activist, led a five-year campaign calling for the Aboriginal flag to be flown year-round on the iconic landmark.
Previously, the Aboriginal flag only flew in place of the NSW state flag on 19 days a year, including the National Day of Healing on May 26, which commemorates the country’s mistreatment of Indigenous people.
After a petition by Toka gathered more than 177,000 signatures, the New South Wales government announced in June it was allocating a budget to build a new, six-story (20 meter) high flagpole for the Aboriginal flag to fly alongside both the Australian and NSW flags.
However, the government immediately faced backlash for the price of the project, which would cost about $25 million Australian dollars (US$ 17 million) and up to two years to build, according to the BBC.
The Premier of NSW, Dominic Perrottet, then ordered a review into why the price was so high, just days after the budget was announced.
On Monday July 11, Perrottet announced the Aboriginal flag will instead permanently replace the NSW flag and the AUD$25 million will be allocated to other initiatives aimed at reducing disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to News.com.au.
The NSW flag will be moved elsewhere in the city, the BBC reported.
“It’s such a proud moment for all First Nations people today and a day of celebration,” Toka told News.com.au.
She told the Sydney Morning Herald that although it is a symbolic gesture, it identifies the true history of Australia and will spark conversations and educate people about the Indigenous people of the country.
“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, the Guardian reported.
“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,” he added.