A virtual petition established a year ago to have the Aboriginal flag fly permanently atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge has entered the real world.
The founder of the popular Change.org campaign, Cheree Toka, led a small protest group on Saturday as the activists marched across the Harbour Bridge calling for the Aboriginal flag to be flown above the iconic landmark 365-days a year.
Toka, a 27-year-old Kamilaroi woman, originally established her online petition calling for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her colleagues to make the change. It has so far attracted more than 86,000 signatures.
“We want Gladys to recognize Aboriginal voices. She keeps dismissing the issue,” Toka said.
“We were here, we’re still here and we want to be heard.”
The flag is now raised 15 days a year, including on Australia Day and during annual NAIDOC weeks, which take place in July.
While the Premier has said she won’t change the scheduling of when the flag is raised, Opposition Leader Luke Foley has committed to leaving the flag above the bridge permanently.
Toka believes keeping the cultural symbol flying over one of the world’s most iconic locations would celebrate First Nations heritage and promote unity in Australia.
“As Australians, we are proud of our Aboriginal heritage and we want to recognize and celebrate this heritage every day,” she stated in the online petition.
Toka plans to present her campaign to the NSW State Parliament in November.
Cheree Toka and fellow demonstrators hold an Aboriginal Flag during a demonstration in Sydney.