Australian Aboriginal Flag

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The Australian Aboriginal flag
Flag ratio: 2:3
The Australian Aboriginal flag is a flag that was initially used by Indigenous Australians in their struggle for land rights in Australia, but whose use has now expanded as a symbol of the Aboriginal people. The top half of the flag is black and the bottom half is red, with a yellow circle joining the two in the centre. It was designed in 1971 by Harold Thomas, an Aboriginal artist descended from the Luritja of Central Australia, as a symbol of the Indigenous land rights movement. On 14 July 1995 it was officially proclaimed by the Australian government to be legally "a Flag of Australia", along with the Torres Strait Islander flag under Section 5 of the Flags Act 1953.

Design

Thomas said of the flag's design,

I wanted to make it unsettling. In normal circumstances you'd have the darker colour at the bottom and the lighter colour on top and that would be visibly appropriate for anybody looking at it. It wouldn't unsettle you. To give a shock to the viewer to have it on top had a dual purpose, was to unsettle... The other factor why I had it on top was the Aboriginal people walk on top of the land. It's an obvious fact as well. So it had - that was the reason why the black was on top was visibly unsettling and because of how I was trained at art school, not to make things too obvious but to have a bit of a shock but also to say that the people walk on the land.[1]


Different explanations have been given for what the colours represent. One view espoused on a government website is "black for Aboriginal people, red for the earth and ochre, used in ceremonies, and yellow to symbolise the sun, the constant renewer of life". [2] Black is also said to represent the sky at night, red has sometimes been said to show the blood of Aboriginal people during fighting with white settlers. Thomas himself said that red and yellow were obvious colours to use, since red and yellow ochre were the predominant colours used by his people.

History

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Aboriginal flags in front of Old Parliament House at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra
It was first flown on National Aborigines' Day in Victoria Square in Adelaide on 12 July 1971. It was also used in Canberra at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972. Before the current Aboriginal flag was used at the tent embassy, other designs were used earlier in the year, including a black, green and red flag made by Sydney supporters, and also a flag with a spear and four crescents in yellow in front of a red and black background.

Cathy Freeman created a great deal of controversy at the 1994 Commonwealth Games by waving the Aboriginal flag as well as the Australian flag during her victory lap of the arena, after winning the 200 metres sprint. Normally, only the national flag is so waved. She was strongly criticised by Games officials including Arthur Tunstall, however she took both flags after later winning the 400 metres as well.

The decision (by Prime Minister Paul Keating) to make the Aboriginal flag a national flag was opposed by the Liberal Opposition at the time, with John Howard making a statement on 4 July 1995 that "any attempt to give the flags official status under the Flags Act would rightly be seen by many in the community not as an act of reconciliation but as a divisive gesture." [3] However since Howard took office in 1996 the flag has remained a national flag. This decision was also criticised by Thomas himself, who said the flag "doesn't need any more recognition" [4]

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Aboriginal flag (right), alongside the Eureka Flag on top of the Melbourne Trades Hall
In 1997 the Federal Court of Australia declared that Harold Thomas was the owner of copyright in the design of the Australian Aboriginal flag, and thus the flag has protection under Australian copyright law. Thomas had sought legal recognition of his ownership and compensation following the Federal Government’s 1995 proclamation of the design. His claim was contested by two others, Mr Brown and Mr Tennant. [5] Since then Thomas has awarded rights solely to Carroll and Richardson Flags for the manufacture and marketing of the flag. [1]

The National Indigenous Advisory Committee campaigned for the Aboriginal flag to be flown at Homebush stadium during the 2000 Olympics. [2]SOCOG announced that the Aboriginal flag would be flown at Olympic venues. [3] The flag was flown over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the march for reconciliation of 2000, and many other events.

On the 30th anniversary of the flag in 2001, thousands of people were involved in a ceremony where the flag was carried from the Parliament of South Australia to Victoria Square. The Aboriginal Flag is permanently flown in Victoria Square and the front of the Town Hall, from 8 July 2002 after recommendations of the Council's Reconciliation Committee. [4]

Use

Many buildings in Australia fly the Aboriginal flag as well as the Australian one, such as the Melbourne Trades Hall. Various councils in Australian towns fly the Aboriginal flag from the town halls, such as Bendigo (adopted in 2005). [5]

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The Aboriginal flag sometimes substitutes the Union Flag in a proposed new Australian flag design
The Aboriginal flag sometimes substitutes the Union Flag in proposed new Australian flag designs. Such flags are presented in science fiction as futuristic Australian flags, as in the film Event Horizon, where it was worn by Sam Neill [6]. Many Aboriginal people object to this use, including Harold Thomas, who said “Our flag is not a secondary thing. It stands on its own, not to be placed as an adjunct to any other thing. It shouldn't be treated that way.” [6]

The sale of condoms in the colours of the Aboriginal flag won a public health award in 2005 for the initiative's success in improving safe sex practices among young Indigenous people. [7]

References

1. ^ From the Federal Court case that established Thomas' copyright over the image. Harold Joseph Thomas v David George Brown & James Morrison Vallely Tennant (1997) 215 FCA (9 April 1997)
2. ^ From the It's An Honour website.
3. ^ From a statement made on 4 July 1995 by then Opposition Leader John Howard, cited on Flags of the World website.
4. ^ Harold Thomas in Land Rights News, July 1995, p. 3, cited in Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Icon or Eyesore?
5. ^ Federal Court declares Aboriginal artist owner of copyright in Aboriginal flag (PDF file), a summary of Thomas v Brown & Tennant [1997] 215 FCA (9 April 1997)
6. ^ Quoted at this Ausflag page
flag is a piece of woven cloth, often flown from a pole or mast, generally used symbolically for signalling or identification. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.
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Indigenous Australians are descendants of the first known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, who together make up about 2.5% of Australia's population.
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Native title is a concept in the law of Australia that recognises the continued ownership of land by local Indigenous Australians.

Native title can co-exist with non-indigenous proprietary rights and in some cases different indigenous groups can exercise their native title
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Capital Canberra

Largest city Sydney
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Harold Joseph Thomas was an Indigenous Australian descended from the Luritja people of Central Australia. He was an artist and land rights activist, he is best know for designing and copyrighting the Australian Aboriginal Flag.
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Indigenous Australians are descendants of the first known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, who together make up about 2.5% of Australia's population.
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Luritja is a name used to refer to several dialects of the Indigenous Australian Western Desert Language, and thereby also to the people who speak these varieties, and their traditional lands.
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Torres Strait Islander flag is an official Flag of Australia, and is the flag that represents Torres Strait Islander people. It was designed in 1992 by Bernard Namok. It won a local competition held by the Islands Coordinating Council, and was recognized by the Aboriginal and
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The Flags Act 1953 was as act of the Parliament of Australia which was notable as it established the official Flag of Australia. The Act was amended by the Flags Amendment Act 1998
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Ochre or Ocher (pronounced /'əʊ.kə(r)/, from the Greek ὠχρός, yellow) is a color, usually described as golden-yellow or light yellow brown.
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Victoria Square () is a public square located in the South Australian capital of Adelaide. The square forms the centre of the city's grid of one square mile.
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Location of Adelaide within Australia

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Location of Canberra within Australia

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Aboriginal Tent Embassy is a controversial semi-permanent assemblage claiming to represent the political rights of Australian Aborigines. It is made of a large group of activists, signs, and tents that reside on the lawn of Old Parliament House in Canberra, the Australian capital.
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Competitor for  Australia
Olympic Games
Gold 2000 Sydney 400 m
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1994 Commonwealth Games were held August 18-August 28, 1994 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

The 15th Commonwealth Games marked South Africa's return to the Commonwealth Games following the apartheid era, over 30 years since the country last competed in the Games.
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A 200 metre race is a sprint running event. Despite the fact that it is often a faster race than the 100 m, it is less popular than the 100 m, and often attracts runners from that event who wish to "double up" and claim both titles.
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Paul John Keating (born 18 January 1944) was the 24th Prime Minister of Australia, from 1991 to 1996. He came to prominence as the reforming Treasurer in the Hawke government from 1983.
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Founded 1944

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Political Ideology Conservative liberalism,
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John Winston Howard (born 26 July 1939) is an Australian politician and the 25th Prime Minister of Australia. He is the second-longest serving Australian Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies, and is the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia.
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