AIME Interactive Library

A different kind of library... Pick a section below!

Want something added to the Interactive Library? Email us!

History of the Aboriginal Flag

Designed by Harold Thomas, a Luritja man from Central Australia and created as a symbol of unity and national identity for Aboriginal people during the Land Rights movement of the early 1970s.

Gary Foley took the Flag to the East Coast where it was promoted and eventually recognised as the official flag of the Australian Aboriginal people.

12 July 1971 The Flag was first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide on National Aborigines Day.
1972 Chosen as the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
1995 Proclaimed as an official 'Flag of Australia' under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953.
1997 Harold Thomas was recognised as the author of the artistic work under the Copyright Act 1968.

The symbolic meaning of the flag colours (as stated by Harold Thomas) are:

Black Aboriginal people of Australia.
Red The red earth, the red ochre and a spiritual relation to the land.
Yellow The Sun, the giver of life and protector.

History of the Torres Strait Islander Flag

Created as a symbol of unity and identity for Torres Strait Islander peoples and designed by the late Bernard Namok, a 15 year old school student from Thursday Island.

Jan 1992 Selected from entries in the Cultural Revival Workshop design competition organised by The Islands Co-ordinating Council. Design chosen for its simplicity which allowed each community to incorporate their emblem for local identification.
Jun 1992 Recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and given equal prominence with the Aboriginal Flag.
Jul 1995 Recognised by the Australian Government as an official 'Flag of Australia' under the Flags Act 1953.

Each part of the Flag is designed to represent something about Torres Strait Island culture:

Green Land.
Blue Sea.
White Peace.
Black Indigenous peoples.
Dhari (Headdress) Torres Strait Island people.
Five Pointed Star 5 major Island groups. Also represents navigation, as a symbol of the seafaring culture of the Torres Strait.

History of the Australian Flag

1901 Commonwealth Blue Ensign selected from over 30,000 designs submitted in a public competition.
1901 Australian Flag comes into being after the Federation of the Australian states.
1903 Australian Flag gazetted.
1909 Seventh point added to the Commonwealth Star.
1953 Adopted as the definitive Australian flag in the Flags Act.
1954 Australian Flag given Royal assent.

The Australian Flag:

  • Is based on the Blue Ensign of the United Kingdom
  • Is twice as long as it is wide
  • Consists of a dark blue field that can be notionally divided into four quadrants
  • Has a different motif in each of the upper and lower hoist quadrants and the remaining two quadrants of the fly share another different constellation motif

The present Australian Flag can be considered to consist of three main elements:

The Union Jack Denoting Australia's historical links with Great Britain. The Union Jack itself is composed of red and white intersecting and overlayed vertical and diagonal crosses on a blue background.
The Southern Cross Consists of five stars in a more or less kite-like pattern - Alpha Crucis (7-point), Beta Crucis (7-point), Gamma Crucis (7-point), Delta Crucis (7-point) and the smaller Epsilon Crucis (5-point). The outer diameter of each of the 4 major stars is 1/7 the width of the fly and the inner diameter is 4/9 outer diameter; the diameter of Epsilon Crucis is 1/12 the width of the fly and the inner diameter is 4/9 the outer diameter. The constellation of the Southern Cross is a significant navigational feature of the southern hemisphere, strongly places Australia geographically and has been associated with the continent since its earliest days.
The Commonwealth Star (or Star of Federation) Has seven points to denote the six states and the combined territories of the Commonwealth. The seventh point was added in 1909