What does your nation’s flag mean to you? In many countries it is a symbol of pride and significance. The American flag, for example, is a symbol reflecting nationalism representing the formation of an independent nation. The thirteen stripes signify the thirteen original colonies that were the foundation of the land and the fifty stars symbolizes the fifty states that make up the new, independent nation. Many people are proud to be American and the flag is an indicator of this. Soldiers are proud to die under it, people aren’t afraid to wear it (I have American flag converses of course), and even other countries look to it as a sign of freedom.
One of my assignments this week was to explain a question that was given to each student. My first question was “If not the current flag of Australia, then what?”. I am going to explain the significance and foundation of the Australian flag and what is happening in Australia currently to change it.
Australia is a fairly new republic. The separate states became a federation on January 1st, 1901. In America it is similar to Independence Day but the Australians did not have to fight for it, rather they became a federation gradually because the British did not really care about keeping them under their wing. The Australians and the Americans did one thing similar and that was to go against the norm and to not follow what the British told them to do but of course the British fought the settlers of America and not the Australians. Therefore, when the Australian flag had to be created after the federation, the government held a competition. Four people won the competition because they all had the same flag drawn:
Three main elements consist of the Australian flag:
- Union Jack– the upper left corner consist of the British flag or Union Jack. This denotes that Australia has historical links with Great Britain.
- Federation Star- The star lays directly under the Union Jack with seven points. The six stars represent the states and the seventh point signifies the federal territories constituting the nation of Australia.
- Southern Cross- The Southern Cross on the right side with five stars representing the constellation that is only seen in the southern hemisphere.
Recently, there has been debate as to if the flag actually represents Australia or not. In my opinion it is sort of a random assortment of figures that have meaning but not strong significance to the country and I think that is what other people are arguing about as well. The AusFlag organization has been created to form a new flag of Australia. The arguments of the committee are:
- It is not distinctive of Australia because it contains a flag of another nation.
- It is similar to other nation’s flags such as New Zealand (and for some reason Australians don’t like New Zealand and I have not figured out why yet!).
- It does not accurately display independence.
- Red, white and blue are not even their national colors. They are green and gold.
- The Southern Cross is not only significant to Australia, it is seen in other countries below the hemisphere such as Brazil and New Guinea.
There are a lot of other arguments as to why it should be changed. The AusFlag organization wants to represent:
- “Our nation and its people”
- “Our past, present, and future”
- “Our land”
- “Our equality and diversity”
- “Our achievements”
- “Our hopes and aspirations”
“We can do much better. Help us create a flag that tells ‘our’ story, not someone else’s.”- AusFlag website
This music video is also from the AusFlag website http://youtu.be/Wvd2L1tHdkk it is actually funny to watch!
The next Australian flag may consist of a kangaroo, an Aborigines symbol, or something completely different. The United States has done a great job at representing pride and originality and Australia is striving to do the same. Although they have independence from Britain, they still want to change it for pride in Australia’s “new” country so to speak (newer than America at least!). I think the new flag only needs to consists of something simple symbolizing the federation, not other random symbols as well.