The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok of Thursday Island. The flag symbolises the unity and identity of all Torres Strait Islanders.
The flag is emblazoned with a white Dhari (headdress) which is a symbol of Torres Strait Islanders. The white five pointed star beneath it symbolises peace, the five major island groups and the navigational importance of stars to the seafaring people of the Torres Strait.
The 5 island groups include:
- Northern Division (Boigu, Dauan, Saibai)
- Eastern Islands (Erub, Mer, Ugar)
- Western Division (St. Pauls, Kubin, Badu, Mabuiag)
- Central Division (Masig, Poruma, Warraber, Iama)
- Southern Division (Thursday, Horn, Prince of Wales and Hammond Islands, NPA and Mainland Australia)
The green stripes represent the land, the black stripes represent the people, and the blue the sea.
Adopted in 1992, the flag design was the winning entry in a competition run by the Island Coordinating Council, a Queensland statutory body representing the community councils in the Torres Strait. In March 2008 the Torres Strait Island Regional Council replaced the Island Coordinating Council.
In 1992 the flag was also recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and given equal prominence with the Australian Aboriginal Flag.
The Federal Government initiated steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition. After a period of public consultation, the Government decided in July 1995 that the flag should be proclaimed a "Flag of Australia" under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953. The flag was so proclaimed by the Governor General of Australia, William Hayden, on 14 July 1995.
The copyright of the Torres Strait Island flag is owned by the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC). Its contact details are:
- Torres Strait Island Regional Council
PO Box 501
Thursday Island QLD 4875
Telephone: 07 4069 1446
Fax: 07 4069 1868
The TSIRC gives permission for requests to reproduce the Torres Strait Flag subject to the following conditions:
- that, where appropriate, recognition is given to the original designer, the late Mr Bernard Namok
- the original PMS colours are used, and
- that permission must be received in writing from the TSIRC, prior to its use.
Permission is not required to fly the Torres Strait Islander Flag, however, any questions on how and when to display the Torres Strait Islander Flag should be directed to:
- Commonwealth Flag Officer
Awards and National Symbols
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
3-5 National Circuit
Barton ACT 2600
Telephone: 02 6271 5629