Triple Union Flag
A new flag for a new Australia
The Triple Union Flag is a simple yet unique flag design which preserves the most distinctive aspects of the current Australian Flag while giving it powerful new symbolism and meaning.
It is the symbol of a united and independent future Australia — a nation which acknowledges the truth of its history and the multiplicity of its identity.
We are one
The Triple Union Flag tells the story of Australia.
The area of the flag is divided into three coloured sectors that symbolise the three different groups of people that have made Australia what it is today.
These sectors converge at equal angles to represent unity and illustrate how each of these groups form an inextricable part of the Australian identity.
We are many
The Triple Union Flag combines shapes and colours from culturally significant past and present flags of Australia to create a symbol of the nation’s future that also chronicles its history.
We are Australian
The Triple Union Flag is a vivid illustration of the Australian landscape, its extremes of nature and its special place in the world, depicting the most iconic natural features of the Great Southern Land.
The Triple Union Flag has been designed as an attempt to create a genuinely transformative alternative flag of Australia by making as few changes to the original flag design as possible.
Instead of merely erasing the Union Jack, decorating the flag with illustrations and patterns, or overhauling the flag entirely, the Triple Union Flag uses straightforward design to build upon an already iconic flag and create a new symbol to represent Australia and Australia alone.
As a familiar and uncomplicated progression of the national flag’s design, the Triple Union Flag preserves the essence of our most important national symbol while representing a new chapter in Australia’s history.
New flag. Six steps.
Our story. Retold.
The Triple Union Flag is a political symbol and does not pretend to be anything otherwise.
The flag illustrates a fundamental shift in the conceptualisation of our nation, a refusal to shy away from the reality of our history and what we must aspire towards to be a truly just country.
By dividing the area of the flag into three sectors that converge at equal angles, the hierarchical form of the current Australian Flag becomes one where each sector forms part of a larger whole.
This “triple union” of three sectors, representing the people who now define Australia, transforms a symbol of colonial subordination into one of unity and solidarity.
We are one
But we are many
The black sector containing a gold circle symbolising the sun represents the First Nations people of Australia and draws upon the designs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags.
As an Aboriginal symbol, the circle, distinct from the stars in the other sectors, illustrates the independence of First Nations people and their special status as the first Australians.
As in both First Nations flags, the colour black is a recognised symbol of Australia’s Indigenous people.
The red sector and eight-pointed star represent Australia’s British colonial history and are derived from the Australian Red Ensign, the National Colonial Flag and Eureka Flag.
Reminiscent of a compass, the eight-pointed star is a symbol seen in Australian flags prior to federation.
Representing Australia’s British history without the Union Jack, the sector resembles the lower hoist-side portion of the Australian Red Ensign — Australia’s de facto flag until 1954.
The blue sector and Southern Cross represent those born or migrated to Australia since federation and are drawn from the Australian Blue Ensign.
The Southern Cross represents Australia’s special place in the world and the shared identity of its diverse citizens.
Redefined, the colour blue represents the ocean that all new arrivals to Australia have had to travel across with the points of the stars representing each of the globe’s continents and oceans.
Telling the truth.
Unlike the current flag, which imposes the narrative of colonialism on our nation, the Triple Union Flag reveals the true history of Australia.
By following the arrangement of the three sectors around a central point, the story of Australia is retold, recognising the nation’s origins as Indigenous land, its British history under colonialism and our modern, independent and diverse identity.
This explicit recognition of both First Nations people and our British colonial history makes the Triple Union Flag unique among alternative Australian Flag proposals.
Related yet distinct.
The Triple Union Flag follows a tradition of flag design whereby multiple flags, both historical and current, are incorporated into one to create a new national symbol that represents something greater than the sum of its parts.
Much like the Flag of England and the Union Jack, a national flag that draws upon existing flag designs creates a unique relationship between them which heightens the relevance and cultural significance of these existing flags.
By bringing together the many flags of Australia, the Triple Union Flag unites all Australians as one and gives the symbols that represent Australia the status that they deserve.
Recognising a dark past.
The Triple Union Flag is first and foremost a symbol of unity, equality and solidarity.
However, an alternative Australian flag cannot ignore the injustices committed against Australia’s First Nations people if it seeks to represent transformative progress for our nation.
When the Triple Union Flag is considered in relation to the design of the Aboriginal Flag, the sun is forced into the black sector from the land (symbolised by red) by the eight-pointed star representing British colonialism.
Recognising the colonial oppression of Indigenous people and the dispossession of their lands, this symbolism makes the events that permanently changed the face our nation a permanent part of the symbol of the nation itself — ensuring that the darkest chapter of Australia’s history will never be forgotten.
Honouring our history.
The British settlement and occupation of Australia transformed what began as a penal colony in the 18th century into the federation of states that was to become the modern nation that exists today. This colonial legacy is represented in the Triple Union Flag by the colour red and the eight-pointed star — symbols that dominated flags of Australia before and after its federation.
The earliest known unique flag of Australia was the National Colonial Flag, a modified St George’s Ensign with four eight-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross. The cross and stars of the National Colonial Flag inspired the designs of many Australian flags to come, including the Eureka Flag, a flag born of rebellion against colonial authority and the first Australian Flag to exclude the Union Jack from its design.
The familiar Australian Ensign was adopted as the flag of a newly federated Australia in 1908 following a national competition and subsequent design revisions. However, the familiar Blue Ensign was originally reserved for federal government use only. Following British flag tradition, the Australian Red Ensign became the de facto flag of Australia — flown by state governments, the general citizenry and on the battlefields of the world wars. By drawing upon the symbols of Australia’s colonial and post-colonial flags, the Triple Union Flag represents the Australia’s British colonial history without the flag of another nation in its upper corner.
Old stars. Made new.
In the Triple Union Flag, the addition of an eighth point to the Commonwealth Star not only reproduces British colonial symbolism but also builds upon the meaning of the existing Australian Flag. As with the current flag, six points of the large star represent each of the Australian states while the internal and external Australian territories are each represented by an additional point.
Comprising the nation’s capital and its third largest division of land area, the significance of mainland territories is given appropriate recognition through the addition of an eighth point to the Commonwealth Star. The eight points also accommodate for the likely future emergence of a seventh Australian state should the Northern Territory acquire independent statehood.
Despite being the most enduring Australian symbol, the points of the stars of the Southern Cross in the Australian Flag have no distinct meaning. In the original 1901 federation flag design, the number of points of each star represented its relative brightness in the night sky. However, the national flag approved by King Edward VII in 1903 was simplified so that each large star of the Southern Cross was seven-pointed.
The Triple Union Flag, which defines the blue sector as representing those born or migrated to Australia since federation, allows for the stars of the Southern Cross to be given new meaning. The seven points of the four large stars can be seen as representing each of the seven continents while the five points of the small star represent each of the five oceans — symbolising the diversity of nations to which Australians can trace their heritage.
The colour blue represents the ocean that all arrivals to Australia have had to travel across, much like the blue of the Torres Strait Islander Flag which represents the sea. The five pointed star in the Southern Cross is also shared by the Torres Straight Islander Flag where it similarly represents seafaring navigation.
The flag in practice
The design of the Triple Union Flag is based on simple geometry and the even spacing of elements. The flag is striking yet uncomplicated and easier to recognise and reproduce than the current Australian Flag.
Whether hung vertically, hoisted at an angle or not flying, the Triple Union Flag maintains a balanced appearance through its symmetrical design and the even division of its area into coloured sectors.
The proportions of the Triple Union Flag can be easily altered without distorting key design features. This establishes clear protocols for flag resizing while ensuring design consistency.
The flag is recognisable as a small icon, a line drawing, an emoji, in plain text and in greyscale.
The flag stands out as unique without looking out of place when flown among other flags.
Maritime and aviation flags
As national flags, the maritime and aviation flags of Australia denote the country of origin of ships and aircraft. Preliminary versions of these flags have been designed based upon the Triple Union Flag to substitute the current designs that are adaptations of the Australian Ensign.
The designs use the same diagonal lines seen in the Triple Union flag and its key symbols of the eight-pointed star and circle. Symbolically, the eight-pointed star is reminiscent of a compass while the downward-sloping points towards the sea. Likewise, the circle represents the sun while the upward-sloping line points towards the sky.
With the circle substituted by the Royal Australian Air Force roundel and the eight-pointed star stylised to resemble a compass, the flags are coloured according to their traditional styles with the civil variants being red and the defence force flags being blue. The darker colour in both military flags is inverted relative to their civil variants and to each other — allowing for easy identification.
The Shield of Australia
By placing two Triple Union Flags together, the shape of a shield emerges. This hidden shield has the potential to become a national symbol in its own right. Its shape suits it well for use as a badge, emblem or insignia which could be deployed to represent the Australian defence force, law enforcement or the Australian political system. At the very least, the shield provides a new, unofficial Australian symbol, akin to the Eureka Flag or the boxing kangaroo.
Right now, the Triple Union Flag is just an idea — it could be something much bigger.
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