Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags
Aboriginal Elder Harold Thomas, a Luritja man from Central Australia, designed the Aboriginal flag in 1971. It was created as a symbol of unity and national identity for Aboriginal people during the land rights movement of the early 1970s. The bright colours of the Aboriginal flag are no coincidence. Harold Thomas used them deliberately “to be eye-catching in land rights protests”. Source
In 1995, The Australian government gazetted it as an Australian flag. The black represents the Aboriginal people. The yellow represents the sun, the giver of life. The red represents the earth and blood spilled by the Aboriginal people in defence of their land.
Torres Strait Islands
The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok of Thursday Island. The flag symbolises the unity and identity of all Torres Strait Islanders. It features a horizontal green and blue panel, representing the land and sea respectively with a black line separating them. The flag is emblazoned with a white Dhari, meaning headdress which is a symbol of Torres Strait Islanders spiritual beliefs and cultural practices. The white five-pointed star beneath it symbolises peace, the five major island groups, and the navigational importance of stars to the seafaring people of the Torres Strait.
The flag is significant to the Torres Strait Islander community as it represents their cultural identity, history, and values and serves as a reminder of the rich history and traditions of the Torres Strait Islanders and also commemorates their struggles for recognition and self-determination.
The Torres Strait Islander flag has become widely recognised and used in Australia, and flown on National Sorry Day on May 26th, National Reconciliation Week and many other significant Australian events. Like the Aboriginal Flag, it has been recognised as an official flag of Australia since 1995.
Additionally, the Torres Strait Islander flag serves to promote unity, reconciliation, and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Therefore a symbol of respect and recognition of the Torres Strait Islander people and their culture and highlights their important place in shaping Australian history and society. It represents thousands of years of rich history and tradition and serves as a sign of unity, pride, and reconciliation between all Australians. Like the Aboriginal Flag, it reminds us of the importance of recognizing and celebrating the unique cultures and values of Australia’s First Peoples.
The flag was gazetted as an Australian flag in 1995.
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Information Sourced from:
Flags & Emblems of Australia – Jill B Bruce
Raise the Flag – Cliff Gifford