The Australian flag came into being on January 1, 1901 after the federation of the Australian States into the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth Blue Ensign was decided upon as a result of a competition from the public. And even though it was selected in 1901 and gazetted in 1903, it did not receive Royal assent and adoption until 1954 in the Flags Act of 1953.
The current Australia Flag consists of three components:
- The Union Jack is in the upper left part of the flag which represents Australia’s historical link to Great Britain.
- The Southern Cross is in the second quarter and fourth quarter of the flag. The stars represent the Southern Cross constellation which is a significant navigational feature of the southern hemisphere.
- The Commonwealth Star or Star of Federation is the star central in the third quarter of the flag. The seven points of the star designate the six states and the combined territories of the Commonwealth.
Each of the six states of Australia has their own official state flag; the common feature being a blue ensign defaced with the badge of the state. The flags of the territories are more unique and individual in nature and they don’t have the blue ensign background like the states.
There are other flags in Australia besides the “official” flag:
- The Queen’s Personal Flag for Australia
- The Govern General’s Flag
- The Eureka Flag
- The Republican Movement
- The Flag of Aboriginal Australia
According to the Australian government, “The Australian National Flag is Australia’s foremost national symbol. It was first flown in 1901 and has become an expression of Australian identity and pride.
The Australian National Flag flies over the federal and state parliaments. The flag is paraded by our defence forces and displayed around the country at sporting events and by service organisations, schools, community groups and private citizens.”