Meanings and Symbolism
The Southern Cross flag has Five White Stars, on a Green and Gold Cross, (or a Green Cross with a Gold border) on a Blue Field or background.
- 5 White Stars
- Green Cross
- Gold Cross
- Blue Field
There were 4 essential criteria in designing this flag
- There must be NO flag of another country. The Union Jack MUST be removed.
- The 5 stars of Southern Cross had to feature, either in the form of the constellation Crux, or in a symbolic cross of 5 stars -- as depicted in many earlier flags.
- Australia's national colours of Green and Gold had to be included.
- All of Australia's founding peoples had to be acknowledged.
Additional criteria include:
- Acknowledge Australia's connection to Britain.
- Ensure that when draped, the flag was recognised as a flag of Australia.
- Acknowledge Australia as the only country to inhabit a continent.
- Include Australia's heraldic colours.
- Allow States and Territories to modify the flag for a State flag.
- Allow the military to modify the flag for their needs.
- Adaptable sizing so that it fits the main flag size ratios of height: length 1:2, 2:3, 3:5 ratio variations.
- Be symmetrical, so that it can never be hung back to front or upside-down, whether by mistake or disrespect and never for distress!
- (No, not for any reason, including "distress". The idea of inverting a flag to signal distress was stopped in 1847. If there is a need to use the flag to genuinely signal distress, it is done by tying a knot in it - the correct nautical term is weft - close to the hoist to leave the fly loose. To be absolutely clear, to fly a flag upside down is to disrespect the flag.
Crux - The Constellation of the Southern Cross
The five stars represent the Southern Cross or the constellation of Crux. Crux is one of the most prominent and easily seen constellations in the southern hemisphere. While it is a permanent feature in the southern hemisphere, it is also visible in the northern hemisphere. It can also be seen in the northern hemisphere tropicss. In spring it is possible to see see all of Crux from Hawaii.
Crux is the smallest of all 88 constellations. Coincidentally, Australia is the smallest of all 7 continents.
In Australian Aboriginal astronomy, the cross constellation and the Coal Sack Nebula represent the head of the Emu in the Sky.
There have been many similar stylised versions of the Southern Cross used on many flags in the past, including the The National Colonial Flag (1823), the Australian Federation Flag (1831), and the Eureka Flag (1854).
What makes this version unique is the Gold border surrounded by the Blue Field. More on that later.
On those three flags the stars were of eight points. This Southern Cross Flag also has stars of eight points, but are for specific reasons that would not have been considered in those days.
- The Green Cross is bordered by a Gold Cross and is on Blue Field or background.
- Taken together, the 3 colours of Blue, Green and Gold represent our nation as an island continent surrounded by water.
- The Green and Gold Cross also represents the continent as an island: The widest point, east-west between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean and, and the narrowest points, north-south between the Gulf of Carpentaria and Bass Strait with the Great Australian Bight.
- The White stars represent the five stars of Crux, the Southern Cross Constellation.
- The Green and Gold cross is made up of Australia's official national sport colours which are based on Australia's Floral Emblem, the Golden Wattle.
- The Green also represents the land. While the land can be harsh and unforgiving, a small amount of rain brings the promise of Green abundance.
- Green is the official green from Australia's official sporting colours.
- The Gold Cross represents both the Beaches that surround the land, as well as the Golden rays of the sun.
- Gold is the official gold from Australia's official sporting colours.
- The Blue Field represents the oceans and seas that surrounds our nation; and that also surrounds the island State of Tasmania, as well as the other Australian island territories.
- It is the Blue of the sky at dusk and dawn.
- The Blue field and alongside the Gold are the Australian Heraldic colours.
- Blue is the official blue for the Australian Blue Ensign, which was adopted from the British Blue ensign.
- The 5 White stars represent Crux, the Southern Cross constellation.
- The stars are all one size, even though the star in the centre has an optical illusion of appearing to be smaller. One size represents Australia's egalitarian nature and where everybody gets a "fair go".
- Originally, the first Australian Flag the Federation Star had six points to represent the six founding states. (And all the constellation stars on the 1901 flag had a different numbers of points; 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9.)
- When the Territory of Papua became an Australian territory In 1908, the seventh point was added to the Federation Star. At some point after that, the "reason" for the 7th point was added was changed to include the other Territories of Australia. In 1908 the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory did not exist.
The "New" Federation Star
While these seven points remain for the States & Territories, there is now a compelling reason to add an 8th point to the 5 Stars.
The 8th Point - the Forgotten Point for the Forgotten People
This Southern Cross flag has the addition of an 8th point to acknowledging acknowledging the First Nations peoples that inhabited the continent for tens of thousands of years, long, long, before Europeans arrived.
To be clearer, the 8th point is not added for the Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders as a "race" of people, any more than there were points added for English, Irish, Scots, Afghans or Chinese.
It is added in the same reason that the colonies became states and then at a later date, territories were recognised. It is added to acknowledge the First Nations of Australia. There was a huge diversity in the First Nations peoples before the European arrival. It is estimated that some 500 tribal nations with 200 languages spoken before Europeans arrived. In their own way the various nations had their own laws, cultures and customs.
At the turn of the 20th century the Indigenous people of Australia were largely forgotten and ignored. The concept of Terra Nullius was a principal part of the whitefellah's understanding of the colonies. Right up until the Mabo Decision in 1992.
It is time, once and for all, to fully reject the concept of 'Terra Nullis' and acknowledge and accept the First Nations of the First Peoples of Australia and their connection to Country.
The eighth point is now the first point. It confirms, "We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands."
- One Point - to represent the First Nation peoples.
- Six points - to represent each of the six Founding States or colonies.
- One point - to represent all the Territories of Australia.
The design of the flag allows the flag to be displayed in the three most common aspect ratios (height : width) as well as icons with no distortion. The first two sizes account for 139 flags out of the 195 sovereign states:
- 1:2 ratio, the traditional size of flags of the British Commonwealth. Used by 54 sovereign states.
- 2:3 ratio, the most common size flag. Used by 85 sovereign states.
As well as
- as icons
- 3:5 ratio.
Officially, Green and Gold should be placed side-by-side, with no other colours between them.
There is no canton therefore no place of honour that is taken by the British Union Jack, which includes not just the United kingdom but also includes the flags of England, Northern Ireland & Scotland.
The Southern Cross is not in the inferior position on the fly.
State Flags and Military Ensigns
This Southern Cross Flag allows the states to feature their emblem in the centre of the flag.
It would also allow State Departments, such as the Ambulance or Police, to be included on the flag on the lower right quadrant, in the same manner as the military.
It is also possible for ADF and Civil flags to use the lower right quadrant for their symbol, such as the RAAF Kangaroo.