Indigenous Australia - Flags

The Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag were designed to represent these groups of Indigenous Australians in the 1970s and 1990s respectively and are proudly displayed around Australia today.

Aboriginal Flag

 © Australian Museum

The Aboriginal Flag

Description and Meaning

The Aboriginal Flag is divided horizontally into equal halves of black (top) and red (bottom), with a yellow circle in the centre.

  • The black symbolises Aboriginal people.
  • The yellow represents the sun, the constant re-newer of life.
  • Red depicts the earth and peoples' relationship to the land. It also represents ochre, which is used by Aboriginal people in ceremonies.
History

The flag was designed by Harold Joseph Thomas, a Luritja man from Central Australia. It was first flown at Victoria Square, Adelaide on National Aborigines' Day on 12 July 1971. It was used later at the Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972.

Today the flag has been adopted by all Aboriginal groups and is flown or displayed permanently at Aboriginal centres throughout Australia.

The Torres Strait Islander Flag

Description and meaning

A white dharri or deri (a type of headdress) sits in the centre, with a five-pointed white star underneath it. It features three horizontal coloured stripes, with green at the top and bottom and blue in between, divided by thin black lines.

  • The colour green is for the land.
  • The dharri or deri is a symbol for all Torres Strait Islanders.
  • The black represents the people.
  • The blue is for the sea.
  • The five-pointed star represents the island groups. Used in navigation, the star is also an important symbol for the sea-faring Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The colour white of the star represents peace.
History

The flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok from Thursday Island in 1992. In June 1992 it was recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.


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