Australian Aboriginal flag

The Australian Aboriginal flag is the official flag of Australian Aboriginal peoples. It has an important historical connection to Adelaide.

Birth of the flag

The Aboriginal flag was born in July 1971, at a land rights rally in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga, in Adelaide. It was created as a symbol of unity and national identity and was designed to be eye-catching. Later that same year, the Aboriginal flag was flown at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

Today, the Australian Aboriginal flag has come to be a powerful symbol for reconciliation and hope for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike.

Flag designer

Harold Thomas designed the Australian Aboriginal flag. Harold is a Luritji man, born in Alice Springs, and who currently lives in the Northern Territory.

His love of painting and art began in his teenage years. After high school, Harold was awarded a scholarship to the South Australian School of Art. He was the first Aboriginal person to graduate from an Australian art school. He retains copyright of the flags design today.

Colours of the flag

When Harold Thomas designed the Australian Aboriginal flag, he chose the colours for a specific reason.

The flag is divided horizontally into two equal halves, with a circle in the centre. The upper half is black, symbolising Aboriginal people; the lower half is red, symbolising the mother earth and the red ochre used by Aboriginal people in ceremonies. The centre circle is yellow, representing the sun - the constant giver and renewer of life.

First raising

The Aboriginal flag was first raised at Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga on Friday 9 July 1971 in support of land rights for Aboriginal people. The raising coincided with National Aborigine's Day, which has now grown into a national week-long celebration known as NAIDOC week.

Status of the flag

On 14 July 1995 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were both proclaimed as official flags under Section (5) of the Flags Act (1953) by the Australian Governor General. The proclamation declared it "to be the flag of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia and to be known as the Australian Aboriginal Flag".

Torres Strait Islander flag

The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok, created as a symbol of unity and identity for Torres Strait Islander peoples. Torres Strait Islanders’ culture and traditions are strongly connected to the land, sea and sky - elements which are represented in the flag. Green represents the land, blue, the sky, black, the Indigenous people, while white represents peace. The Dhari represents Torres Strait Islander people and the five-pointed star represents the five island groups within the Torres Strait.

Permanent flying of the flag in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga

In May 2002, the City of Adelaide’s Reconciliation Committee recommended to Council that, along with a range of reconciliation initiatives, the Australian Aboriginal flag fly permanently in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga.

Council endorsed the permanent flying on 8 July 2002. Today you’ll always see the Australian Aboriginal flag flying proudly in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga and both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags on the flagpoles in front of the Town Hall.

30th Anniversary of the flag - Tarntanyangga Kaurna Yerta

During NAIDOC week in 2001, Council in conjunction with the NAIDOC SA Committee convened Tarntanyangga Kaurna Yerta in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga in celebration of the flags 30th Anniversary.

Thousands of people were involved in the flag ceremony which saw the Australian Aboriginal flag carried from Parliament House on North Terrace, to the centre of Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga. It was then raised by Harold Thomas on one of the big flagpoles in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga.

Download: Australian Aboriginal Flag brochure.