Australian National Flag

The Australian National Flag is Australia’s foremost national symbol and has become an expression of Australian identity and pride.

The Australian National 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.

A blue flag with a red and white flag at top left and five stars in a cross arrangement at right and a large seven pointed star at bottom left.

History of the Australian National Flag

Upon federation in 1901, Australia’s first Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Sir Edmund Barton, announced an international competition to design a flag for the new Commonwealth of Australia. There were 32,823 entries, of which 5 nearly identical designs were awarded equal first.

The prize money of £200 was divided among the winners: Annie Dorrington from Perth, who became quite a well-known artist; Ivor Evans from Melbourne, a 14-year-old school boy whose father owned a flag-making business; Leslie Hawkins, a teenager from Leichhardt in New South Wales; Egbert Nuttall, from Prahran in Victoria; and William Stevens, First Officer in the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.

The Australian Flag was flown for the first time on 3 September 1901, the day on which the then Prime Minister announced the 5 joint competition winners. It was flown over the dome of the Exhibition Building in Melbourne, which was the then seat of the federal government, where all the designs were on display. The Australian National Flag as we know it today is based on this design. In this original design, the stars of the Southern Cross had different numbers of points to signify their varying brightness.

To commemorate the day on which the Australian National Flag was first flown, 3 September of each year is officially recognised as Australian National Flag Day.

Australian Flags booklet

In the foreground is a mainly blue flag with white star shapes at right and left bottom. At top right is a red, white and blue design of crosses. The flag is attached to a white pole and in the background is a mainly blue sky.

The Australian Flags booklet is an educational resource and a source of general information about the history and proper use of the Australian National Flag and other flags of Australia. It is intended for the Australian community, flag marshals and visitors to Australia.

The Australian Flags booklet is also available in hard copy from your Federal Member of Parliament or Senator.

The Commonwealth Flag Network

You can register for the Commonwealth Flag Network for up-to-date advice on how to fly the flag on special occasions.

After registering, you will receive the same email as flag marshals around the country. It will contain flag protocols for special occasions such as Anzac Day and NAIDOC Week, or occasions when flags should be half-mast.

Sign up to the Commonwealth Flag Network.

Previous flag announcements are available online after they are sent.

Australian National Flag Day

Australian National Flag Day is an opportunity for individuals, community organisations, local authorities, businesses and schools to celebrate the anniversary of the Australian National Flag.

Australian National Flag Day, proclaimed in 1996 as a national day, celebrates the first time the flag was flown on 3 September 1901.

All Australians are encouraged to fly or display the Australian National Flag to celebrate Australian National Flag Day.

Ideas to help you celebrate Australian National Flag Day:

  • Conduct a flag raising ceremony
  • Businesses and organisations which don’t have a flagpole may wish to display the Australian National Flag in the public areas of their buildings, such as foyers
  • Read about the history of the Australian National Flag and the protocols for flying the flag
  • Register for the Commonwealth Flag Network.

The Department also provides a flag kit which can be used to help promote an understanding of Australia’s democratic heritage and traditions, and the shared values of freedom, tolerance, respect, responsibility and inclusion.

The flag kit consists of the following resources:

There are also flag images and templates available for download.

Latest news


Australian National Flag Protocols

Flag setup: conferences or meetings

Australian National Flag

Australian National Flag fact sheet