The Aboriginal flag was designed by Harold Thomas, a Luritja man from Central Australia. It was created as a symbol of unity and national identity for Aboriginal people during the land rights movement of the early 1970s.
Gary Foley took the flag to the East Coast where it was promoted and eventually recognised as the official flag of the Australian Aboriginal people.
The flag was first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide on National Aborigines Day, 12 July 1971.
The flag was chosen as the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and was first flown there in 1972.
In 1995, the Australian Government proclaimed the flag as an official 'Flag of Australia' under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953.
In 1997, Harold Thomas was recognised as the author of the artistic work under the Copyright Act 1968.
The symbolic meaning of the flag colours (as stated by Mr Harold Thomas) are:
Harold Thomas was born in Alice Springs; his mother a Luritja woman and his father a Wombai man. He was sent to St Francis' Anglican boys home in Adelaide and in 1965 won a scholarship to the South Australian School of Art, becoming the first Aboriginal to graduate from an Australian Art School. He also has an Honorary Degree in Social Anthropology from Adelaide University. In 1970 he started working as a survey artist at the South Australian Museum, where he designed the flag. Since then, Harold has continued to work as an artist, with his works on display in several Australian galleries.
In 1997, the Federal Court of Australia officially recognised Harold Thomas as the author of the flag. This protects the flag under the Copyright Act 1968 and so it may be only reproduced in accordance with this legislation or with the permission of Mr Thomas.
For guidance about using the Aboriginal flag, its colours, or the Torres Strait Islander Flag refer to the Commonwealth Flag Officer (phone 02 6271 5629 or 02 6271 5111) at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The copyright license for the manufacture and marketing of the Aboriginal flag has been awarded by Mr Thomas to Carroll and Richardson Flags. Flags that do not have a white header at the left side, or flags that do not show the Carroll and Richardson label could be infringing the copyright owned by Mr Harold Thomas.
flags and merchandise can be made directly from Carroll and Richardson:
Carroll and Richardson Flags
22-24 Miles Street
Ph 03 9566 4500
F 03 0560 3235
Government Info Shops in any capital city can also be contacted. For addresses for each of these State Offices see the website www.flags2000.com.au (under Australian stockists).
See also AusFlag Website - Aboriginal Flag - http://www.ausflag.com.au/