Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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Yeo and Toka chosen as Citizens of the Year

Newtown resident and longstanding leader of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Liz Yeo, and Indigenous activist, Cheree Toka, are Inner West 2022 Citizens of the Year.

Liz Yeo was until recently CEO of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre which throughout the pandemic carried out critical work with some of the most vulnerable members of the Inner West community.

Cheree Toka is a proud Kamilaroi woman, Dulwich Hill resident and activist who initiated and led the (successful) campaign for the Aboriginal Flag to fly permanently over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The pair were announced as Co-Citizens of the Year at a ceremony on June 4 at Ashfield Town Hall.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne said, “Liz Yeo and the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre have been serving the most vulnerable people in Inner West for many years.

“The inspiring way that the organisation mobilised to support victims in the wake of the Newtown boarding house fire was just the latest example of how this institution has stepped up to help.

“Liz has been a leading advocate for affordable housing, reducing homelessness and protecting the rights of low-income people.”

Mr Byrne said that Cheree Toka’s principled campaign to have the Aboriginal Flag fly permanently over Sydney’s most famous landmark had inspired the whole community.

“The recent reversal from the NSW Government and public commitment to fly the Aboriginal Flag over the Bridge is entirely because of Cheree’s unceasing advocacy over five years.”

In June, Ms Yeo left Newtown Neighbourhood Centre to join the Paul Ramsey Foundation Darlinghurst (PRF).

After seven years running service delivery for people at the extreme end of disadvantage, she said the new role at PRF offered a unique opportunity to spend the next part of her career focused on bringing about systemic change.

“There is a certain magic that can happen when you bring together people from all perspectives. If you put the right combination together – people who want to make things better, good ideas and some resources to make them happen – it’s totally possible to create social change.”

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