|Adopted||14 July 1995|
|Design||A horizontal bi-colour of black and red with a yellow disc in the centre.|
|Designed by||Harold Thomas|
The Australian Aboriginal Flag represents Aboriginal Australians. It is one of the official flags of Australia, and holds special legal and political status. It is often flown together with the national flag and with the Torres Strait Islander Flag, which is also an official flag of Australia.
Aboriginal Australians are the various indigenous peoples of the Australian mainland, Tasmania, and often the Tiwi people. This group contains many distinct peoples that have developed across Australia for over 50,000 years. These peoples have a broadly shared, though complex, genetic history, but it is only in the last two hundred years that they have been defined and started to self identify as a single group. The definition of the term "Aboriginal" has changed over time and place, with the importance of family lineage, self identification and community acceptance all being of varying importance. In the past, Aboriginal Australians lived over large sections of the continental shelf and were isolated on many of the smaller offshore islands when the land was inundated at the start of the inter-glacial. However, they are considered distinct from the Torres Strait Islander people, despite extensive cultural exchange.
The flag of Australia is a defaced Blue Ensign: a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton, and a large white seven-pointed star known as the Commonwealth Star in the lower hoist quarter. The fly contains a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars – one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars. There are other official flags representing Australia, its people and core functions of government.
The Torres Strait Islander Flag is an official flag of Australia, and is the flag that represents Torres Strait Islander people. It was designed in 1992 by Bernard Namok. It won a local competition held by the Islands Coordinating Council, and was recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in June 1992.
The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed in 1971 by Aboriginal artist Harold Thomas, who is descended from the Luritja people of Central Australia and holds intellectual property rights to the flag's design. The flag was originally designed for the land rights movement, and it became a symbol of the Aboriginal people of Australia.
Harold Joseph Thomas is an Aboriginal Australian descended from the Luritja people of Central Australia. An artist and land rights activist, he is best known for designing and copyrighting the Australian Aboriginal Flag.
The flag's width is twice its height.It is horizontally divided into a black region (above) and a red region (below). A yellow disc is superimposed over the centre of the flag.
The Government of Australia granted it Flag of Australia status, under the Flags Act 1953, by proclamation on 14 July 1995.
The Government of Australia is the government of the Commonwealth of Australia, a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. It is also commonly referred to as the Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government, Her Majesty's Government, or the Federal Government.
The Flags Act 1953 is an act of the Parliament of Australia which defines the official Flag of Australia. Queen Elizabeth II gave Royal Assent on 14 February 1954 after opening the Commonwealth Parliament during her 1954 Royal Tour. It was the first of the few Commonwealth Statutes enacted by the reigning Monarch.
Due to an "administrative oversight",the 1995 proclamation was not lodged so that it would continue in force indefinitely; hence it automatically expired on 1 January 2008. It was therefore almost identically replaced, on 25 January 2008, with effect as from 1 January.
In the 2008 proclamation, the flag "is recognised as the flag of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia and a flag of significance to the Australian nation generally" and appointed "to be the flag of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia and to be known as the Australian Aboriginal Flag". The design is reproduced in Schedule 1 and described in Schedule 2.
The symbolic meaning of the flag colours (as stated by Harold Thomas) is:
- Black – represents the Aboriginal people of Australia
- Yellow circle – represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector
- Red – represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land
The official colour specifications of the Australian Aboriginal Flag are:
|Pantone||1795 C (or 179 C )||123 C||Black C|
| RGB |
In most cases, on-screen or digital reproductions of the flag should use the RGB colours as in the table above. This version of the flag can be seen at the top of this page. When displaying in physical fabric formats, it is much preferred to use the Pantone specifications. When printing on paper, the CMYK colours are superior.
The flag was first flown on National Aborigines Day in Victoria Square in Adelaide on 12 July 1971.It was also used in Canberra at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy from late 1972. In the early months of the embassy—which was established in February that year—other designs were used, including a black, green and red flag made by supporters of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league club, and a flag with a red-black field containing a spear and four crescents in yellow.
Cathy Freeman caused controversy at the 1994 Commonwealth Games by carrying the Aboriginal flag as well as the Australian national flag during her victory lap of the arena, after winning the 200 metres sprint; only the national flag is meant to be displayed. Despite strong criticism from both Games officials and Australian team president Arthur Tunstall, Freeman carried both flags again after winning the 400 metres.
The decision in 1995 by Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags should be given the status of national flags was opposed by the Liberal Opposition at the time, Opposition Leader John Howard stating that "any attempt to give the flags official status under the Flags Act would rightly be seen by many in the community not as an act of reconciliation but as a divisive gesture".Nonetheless, since Howard became Prime Minister in 1996 and under subsequent Labor governments, these flags have remained national flags. However, this decision was differently criticised by the designer of the flag, Harold Thomas, who said that the Aboriginal flag "doesn't need any more recognition".
In 1997, in the case Thomas v Brown and Tennant,the Federal Court of Australia declared that Harold Thomas was the owner of copyright in the design of the Australian Aboriginal flag, and thus the flag has protection under Australian copyright law. Thomas had sought legal recognition of his ownership and compensation following the Federal Government's 1995 proclamation of the design. His claim was contested by two others, George Brown and James Tennant. Thomas awarded rights solely to Carroll & Richardson – Flagworld Pty Ltd and Birubi Art Pty Ltd for the manufacture and marketing of the flag and of products featuring the flag's image. In June 2019, Birubi Art was fined $2.3 million AUD for selling products made in Indonesia as "Aboriginal art". The company had previously started liquidation proceedings. In November 2018, WAM Clothing was granted a license for the use of the flag on clothing, and in June 2019 it was reported that they had demanded that Aboriginal-owned businesses stop selling clothing that featured the flag.
The National Indigenous Advisory Committee campaigned for the Aboriginal flag to be flown at Stadium Australia during the 2000 Summer Olympics.SOCOG announced that the Aboriginal flag would be flown at Olympic venues. The flag has been flown over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the march for reconciliation of 2000 and many other events, including Australia Day.
On the 30th anniversary of the flag in 2001, thousands of people were involved in a ceremony where the flag was carried from the Parliament of South Australia to Victoria Square. Since 8 July 2002, after recommendations of the Council's Reconciliation Committee, the Aboriginal Flag has been permanently flown in Victoria Square and in front of the Town Hall.
Many buildings in Australia fly the Aboriginal flag as well as the Australian flag, the Melbourne Trades Hall being an example. Various councils in Australian towns fly the Aboriginal flag from the town halls, such as Bendigo (adopted in 2005).The first city council to fly the Aboriginal flag was Newcastle City Council in 1977. And it is used as the team colours of the all-aboriginal AFL team The Fitzroy Stars.
The Aboriginal flag is sometimes substituted for the Union Flag in the canton of Australia's flag in proposed new Australian flag designs. Such flags have been presented in science fiction as futuristic Australian flags, as in the film Event Horizon , where it was worn by Sam Neill.Many Aboriginal people object to this use, including Harold Thomas, who said "Our flag is not a secondary thing. It stands on its own, not to be placed as an adjunct to any other thing. It shouldn't be treated that way."
The Australian Aboriginal Flag is celebrated in the controversial painting The First Supper (1988) by Susan Dorothea White where the central figure is an Aboriginal woman who displays the flag on her T-shirt.
The Australian Aboriginal Flag is the default flag in the web game NationStates .
The sale of condoms in the colours of the Aboriginal flag won a public health award in 2005 for the initiative's success in improving safe sex practices among young Indigenous people.
The flag was to be part of the logo on Google Australia's home page on Australia Day 2010, but the company was forced to modify the design due to Harold Thomas demanding payment if Google were to use it.
The anti-Islamic group Reclaim Australia used the flag at their protests, which was openly condemned by the author Harold Thomas. He said of the use:
They should get permission from Aboriginal communities in general. The flag is our identity and expression of who we are. It’s quite clear we use it freely and willingly and the government recognises the flag. It has its place.
But to utilise it as a banner for anger or for another skewered reason is idiotic.
Aboriginal-designed emojis featuring the flag are to be released via an app, with the permission of Harold Thomas.
Eddie Mabo was an Indigenous Australian man from the Torres Strait Islands known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and for his role in a landmark decision of the High Court of Australia which overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius which characterised Australian law with regard to land and title.
The Torres Strait Islands are a group of at least 274 small islands which lie in Torres Strait, the waterway separating far northern continental Australia's Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea.
Torres Strait Islanders ( ) are the indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands, part of Queensland, Australia. They are distinct from the Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, and are generally referred to separately. There are also two Torres Strait Islander communities on the nearby coast of the mainland at Bamaga and Seisia.
Victoria Square, also known as Tarntanyangga or Tarndanyangga, is a public square in the South Australian capital of Adelaide. The area was named "Victoria Square" by the Street Naming Committee on 23 May 1837, after Princess Victoria, then heir presumptive of the British throne. The Kaurna people know the whole Adelaide city and parklands area as Tarndanyangga, "The Dreaming Place of the Red Kangaroo", and in line with the Adelaide City Council's recognition of Kaurna country, the square has been officially referred to as Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga since 2001.
The Australian referendum of 27 May 1967, called by the Holt Government, approved two amendments to the Australian constitution relating to Indigenous Australians. Technically it was a vote on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) 1967 Act, which became law on 10 August 1967 following the results of the referendum. The amendments were overwhelmingly endorsed, winning 90.77% of votes cast and carrying in all six states. These amendments altered sections 51(xxvi), and 127, having the immediate effect of including Aboriginal Australians in determinations of population, and also empowering the Federal Parliament to legislate specifically for this racial group. The other question put in the referendum, to allow the number of seats in the House of Representatives to be increased without increasing the number of senators, was rejected. It received majority support in only one state – New South Wales – and received about 40.25% "yes" votes nationwide.
Reconciliation Australia is a non-government, not-for-profit foundation established in January 2001 to promote a continuing national focus for reconciliation between indigenous Australians and Australians from a non-indigenous cultural background. It was established by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and subsequently superseded that body. In 1991, the Australian Parliament voted unanimously to establish the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and a formal reconciliation process. Parliament had noted that there had been no formal process of reconciliation and that it was “most desirable that there be such a reconciliation” by the year 2001, marking the centenary of Federation.
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Hammond Island is an island with a town of the same name, in the Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia, within the local government area of Torres Strait Island Region.
Moa Island, also called Banks Island, is an island of the Torres Strait Islands archipelago that is located 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Thursday Island in the Banks Channel of Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia. It is also a locality within the Torres Strait Island Region local government area. This island is the largest within the "Near Western" group. It has two towns, Kubin on the south-west coast and St Pauls on the east coast, which are connected by bitumen and a gravel road.
The Shire of Torres is a local government area located in Far North Queensland, Australia, covering large sections of the Torres Strait Islands and the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula north of 11°S latitude. It holds two distinctions—it is the northernmost Local Government Area in Australia, and is the only one to abut an international border – it is at one point just 73 kilometres (45 mi) from Papua New Guinea. It is administered from Thursday Island.
Indigenous Australians are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before British colonisation. The time of arrival of the first Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers. The earliest conclusively human remains found in Australia are those of Mungo Man LM3 and Mungo Lady, which have been dated to around 50,000 years BP. Recent archaeological evidence from the analysis of charcoal and artefacts revealing human use suggests a date as early as 65,000 BP. Luminescence dating has suggested habitation in Arnhem Land as far back as 60,000 years BP. Genetic research has inferred a date of habitation as early as 80,000 years BP. Other estimates have ranged up to 100,000 years and 125,000 years BP.
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The Aboriginal Lands Act 1995 is a statute passed by the Parliament of Tasmania that came into effect on November 14, 1995. It provided for the establishment of an elected Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania. The Council consists of eight members elected by Tasmanian indigenous people. The Act enables that land of significance to Tasmanian indigenous people is to be returned to the community and held on trust by the council.
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