The Australian Aboriginal Flag
The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed by artist Harold Thomas and first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide, SA, on National Aborigines Day, 12 July 1971. It became the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra after it was first flown there in 1972.
Since then, it has become a widely recognised symbol of the unity and identity of Aboriginal people.
In view of the flag’s wide acceptance and importance in Australian society, the Commonwealth took steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition. After a period of public consultation, the Aboriginal flag was proclaimed a ‘Flag of Australia’ under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953 in July 1995.
In 1997 the Federal Court recognised Harold Thomas as the author of the flag.
Form and Symbolism
The Aboriginal flag is divided horizontally into halves. The top half is black and the lower half red. There is a yellow disk in the centre of the flag.
The meaning of the three colours in the flag, as stated by Harold Thomas, is:
- Black - the Aboriginal people of Australia
- Red - the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal people’s spiritual relation to the land
- Yellow disk - the Sun, the giver of life and protector