Every nation has its own distinctive flag. Each comes in different colours and elements that symbolize a country’s history and identity.
For other countries, they only acknowledge one flag that will officially represent their nation and race; but, due to the eventful history of the Great Southerland, it resulted in Australia having more than just one flag.
In this blog, let’s find out how many flags Australia really does have and what each of them represents.
Australian National Flag
The National Flag of Australia which the country has been using since 1908 contains three elements on a blue background that reflect the country’s rich history: The British Union Jack, the Southern Cross, and the Commonwealth Star.
The British Union Jack mainly reflects the history of British settlement in Australia. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Star or the seven-pointed star represents the unity of six states, while the seventh point represents the territories, respectively. Lastly, the Southern Cross which is represented by the constellation of five stars reflects Australia’s geographic position.
Since 1901, The National Flag of Australia has been modified three times. The first one was used from 1901 to 1903; the second version, which was approved by King Edward VII, was then used from 1903 to 1908, and finally, the third version is one being used until today.
Australian Aboriginal Flag
The indigenous people of Australia or also referred to as the Aboriginal people are also represented and identified by a flag. However, despite being the first people in the Great Southerland, the existence of their flag, which was designed by Mr Harold Thomas, was only recognized in July 1971 when it was first flown in Adelaide.
Essentially, the Australian Aboriginal Flag consists of three colours, each with important representations. The colour black at the upper half reflects the Aboriginal people; the bottom half in red symbolizes the land, and the yellow circle at the centre represents the sun which is the giver of life.
Under the Flags Act 1953, the Australian Aboriginal flag along with the Torres Strait Island Flag, was declared to be Flags of Australia in 1995.
Torres Strait Islander Flag
The design of the Torres Strait Island Flag which was adopted in May 1992 consists of four colours— green, black, white, and blue.
The green horizontal stripes symbolize the land; the black thick lines represent the Torres Strait Islander people; the white colour at the centre in the shape of a dancer’s headdress is a representation for all Torres Strait Islanders, and the blue stripe symbolizes the sea.
Additionally, the 5 points of the white star represent the island groups in the Torres Strait, with the colour white symbolizing peace.
Australian South Sea Islanders Flag
Upon recognizing the need for a flag that will represent the community of the Australian South Sea Islanders, Tony Burton of Flags Australia designed the Australian South Sea Islanders Flag in 1994.
Additionally, Tony Burton also created the design of this Australian flag with full distinction from the rest of the flags of Australia. Similar to other Australian flags, the Australian South Sea Islanders Flag also consists of colors and elements that represent valuable meanings.
The black vertical panel represents the Australian South Sea Islanders, while the horizontal black strip represents the people’s continuing future. The bright blue strip above symbolizes the sea, and the green band below reflects the land.
The gold thick lines symbolize the sunshine and the sand of Australia; and finally this Australian flag also consists of the Southern Cross.
The Australian Defence Force Ensign
From the name itself, this Australian Flag collectively represents the Australian Defence Force— Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Thus, the Australian Defence Force Ensign consists of 6 elements.
The red stripe and the crossed swords represent the Australian Army; the light blue stripe and the eagle at the centre of the flag represent the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), while the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is represented by the dark blue stripe and the anchor.
The Australian Defence Force Ensign was officially recognized by the government as one of the flags of Australia on 14 April 2000.
The Australian White Ensign
Looking at the design of the Australian White Ensign, it is closely identical to the National Flag of Australia, only the latter has a blue field and white Commonwealth Star and Southern Cross, which is a complete reversal of this Australian flag.
Since 1967, The Australian White Ensign has been used by the commissioned ships of the Royal Australian Navy. Prior to the approval of this design, Australian vessels would use the British White Ensign which then led to situations where they were mistaken for the British warships, hence the revision in the design.
The RAAF Ensign
This Australian flag is the official flag of the Royal Australian Air Force as well as the Australian Air Force Cadets which they use both in Australia and overseas.
During World War 2, the Royal Australian Air Force used the British Royal Air Force Flag. Four years after the war had ended, the new design, which was based on the National Flag of Australia, was adopted. The ensign was then modified in 1982 which consists of a light blue background, tilted Southern Cross, and the RAAF roundel with a red kangaroo in the lower fly.
The Australian Red Ensign
In 1901, the government of Australia initiated the Federal Flag Design Competition in an effort to find a new flag for the newly unified Commonwealth of Australia. In the competition, each contender was required to submit two differently coloured designs— a blue ensign for naval use and a red one for public use.
The winning design was basically the red version of the National Flag of Australia and is now being used by ships registered in Australia.
Australian Border Force Flag
The design of the Australian Border Force Flag is the same as the design of the current National Flag of Australia, only with the added text “Australian Border Force” written between the lower part of the Southern Cross and the Commonwealth Star.
The design of Australian Border Force Flag, particularly the text on the ensign, has been constantly modified since 1901. It was initially termed as Australian Customs Flag and finally, in 2015, it has been officially called the Australian Border Force Flag.
The Australian Civil Aviation Flag
The Australian Civil Aviation Flag was formerly intended to be flown at all Australian airports as well as the other properties of the Department of Civil Aviation from the pilot’s window after the aircraft has landed. Eventually, this Australian flag is now solely used by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Airservices Australia.
The design of The Australian Civil Aviation flag is a bit different from the other flags of Australia as it is based on the British Civil Air Ensign. This flag has a light blue field which is divided into quadrants by a dark blue cross with white outline; slightly rotated Southern Cross; and the Commonwealth Star.
Before this latest version was adopted in 1948, the colour of the Southern Cross and Commonwealth Star was yellow.
The Australian Federal Police Flag
The Australian Federal Police is also represented by a flag. This Australian Flag has a black-white-black vertical tricolour field and on the centre is the Australian Federal Police badge. Meanwhile, the borders of this flag have a checkerboard design.
The flag of the Australian Federal Police which was mainly used and flown on buildings and properties operated by the Australian Federal Police was first adopted in 1981.
Her Majesty the Queen's Personal Flag for Australia
The Queen of Australia, HM Queen Elizabeth II also uses her own flag whenever she is in Australia or when she attends an event overseas as the head of state of Australia.
The Queen’s Personal Flag for Australia is divided into six sections: The upper left represents New South Wales; the upper middle represents Victoria; and the upper right represents Queensland.
Meanwhile, at the bottom half, starting from left to right, are representations for South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, respectively.
The Queen’s representative in Australia, the Governor-General also has a designated flag that is flown in on buildings and facilities when he is present.
United Nations Flag
During United Nations Day on 24 October, the United Nations flag is flown in Australia. In case there is only one available pole, the United Nations flag can replace the National Flag of Australia for the day being.
All images were sourced from: www.flagsaustralia.com.au