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Torres Strait Islander flag

Key points

  • The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok.
  • The colours of the flag represent the Torres Strait Islander people’s connection to the land, sea and sky.
  • The flag was the winning entry in a design competition in 1992.
  • In 1995, the Torres Strait Islander flag was recognised by the Australian Government as an official 'Flag of Australia' under the Flags Act 1953.

The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok from Thursday Island. It was the winning entry in a design competition that was held as part of a cultural revival workshop organised by the Islands Coordinating Council in January, 1992.

The flag was created as a symbol of unity and identity for Torres Strait Islander peoples. The cultures and traditions of Torres Strait Islanders are strongly connected to the land, sea and sky — elements which are represented in the flag.

The green panels at the top and bottom of the flag represent the land and the central blue panel represents the sea. The black lines dividing the panels represent the Torres Strait Islander people. The centre of the flag shows a white dhari (dancer’s headdress) which represents Torres Strait Islander culture.

Underneath the dhari is a white five-pointed star. The star is an important symbol for navigating the sea. The points of the star represent the five island groups in the Torres Strait and the white symbolises peace.

Each part of the flag gives meaning to Torres Strait Islander culture and holds special legal and political status worldwide.

The flag was officially presented to the people of the Torres Strait at the sixth Torres Strait Cultural Festival on 29 May, 1992. The following month, the flag was recognised by the former national body, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and given equal prominence with the Aboriginal flag.

On 14 July 1995, the Governor General of Australia William Hayden proclaimed both the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag to be 'Flags of Australia' under the Flags Act 1953.