• A dancer from Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe performs the smoking ceremony in front of the Government House in Sydney. (AAP)Source: AAP
Indigenous flags to be flown all year round at public building, as push for more flags grows.
28 Jun 2017 - 5:41 PM  UPDATED 28 Jun 2017 - 5:49 PM

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags have been unfurled at an official ceremony at NSW Government House and will remain a permanent fixture in a symbolic gesture that is long overdue, the state's governor says.

NSW Governor David Hurley led the flag raising ceremony on Wednesday as Gadigal elders and Torres Strait representatives watched on ahead of NAIDOC Week.

"This is an emotional event for me and for many people here," Gen Hurley said.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have fought and died for our Australian flag."

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General Hurley had to pause during his address, later telling reporters he was "quite emotional" at the significance of the ceremony.

Moves for a more prominent display of the Aboriginal flag have been growing in recent years. Earlier this year an online campaign was signed up to by thousands called for the Aboriginal flag to be flown over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, alongside the Australian and NSW flags, on a permanent basis. 

Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka created the petition and wrote: "As Australians, we are proud of our Aboriginal heritage and we want to recognise and celebrate this heritage every day."

Ms Toka said the Aboriginal flag should be flown every day on the bridge. 

The Aboriginal flag is currently only flown on the bridge for various events including NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week and Australia Day.

In the past, the indigenous flags were unfurled on a temporary basis at Government House to mark commemorations such as NAIDOC week and national reconciliation week.

The governor said it was "about time" the flags became permanent fixtures at the oldest public office in Australia.

"As I travelled interstate, and thought about the issues and the connection with the Gadigal people who I interact with regularly here in Sydney, I thought it's about time we should do this," His Excellency said.

The flags will fly on new poles located along the Government House driveway next to the NSW state and Australian flags.

While Gen Hurley acknowledged "there is further work to do to build on and strengthen our community relationships" he hoped the ceremony would be "a visible link" in helping to build a better future for Indigenous people in NSW.

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Future changes to NSW Government House include an installation to reflect the Aboriginal communities of NSW. A consultation process on this is underway.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo native title decision.

Wednesday's historic event began with a traditional smoking and dance ceremony.

As the flags were unfurled the Australian national anthem was sung in Dharawal and English by the Kari Choir.

With AAP