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Alternative Australian flags cause debate on TikTok

by Mary Sewell

Five Australian flag designs have stirred debate online after a TikTok user shared them this week. Five alternatives to Australia’s national flag have been featured in a video online, stirring up the debate over whether the current design should be changed. TikTok user Jack Toohey presented the designs in his video uploaded on Wednesday, with all flags referencing the country’s rich Aboriginal history.

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The first flag, the Reconciliation Flag, was designed by John Blaxland in 2013 and featured a seven-pointed star filled with dots to represent 150 indigenous and 100 migrant languages. A boomerang was styled to the side of the Union Jack, with the flag colors reminiscent of both the Aboriginal and British flags.

The second, named Down Under by Friedensreich Hundertwasser in 1986, was designed to represent an upside-down Uluru.

An untitled design as “unsettling” by Mr. Toohey highlighted how designer John Joseph used an Aboriginal dot painting technique while not being Aboriginal himself.

The following design, named The Golden Wattle, was proposed in 2015 by Jeremy Matthews and represents each state and territory as “buds” around the Commonwealth star.

A website dedicated to promoting the flag highlights how green and gold are Australia’s national colors, and both are used on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

Another design, The Sunburnt Flag, represents a golden sun rising behind the “sunburnt” country and is “evocative of the Aboriginal flag, while not being completely derivative”, Mr. Toohey said.

It also features the Southern Cross on a “classic blue” background, with Mr. Toohey arguing both themes were “a perfect marriage”. The five were among a long list of flags proposed by different artists to replace the current Australian flag, which has historically been criticized for its loyalty to colonialism.

“Personally, I think if Australia is to truly move down the path of reconciliation and away from colonial history, then we should allow young indigenous designers and artists to lead the way,” Mr. Toohey said.

While many were supportive that the flag was changed to represent Australia’s traditional landowners, some were convinced it was fine as it was. “I like the rising sun but see no reason to change the flag,” one person, who sparked a lengthy debate, wrote in a comment. Others expressed Australia was “overdue for an update”, with many saying the first option, the Reconciliation Flag, was their favorite.

“The first one literally took my breath away. So beautiful,” one wrote.

Someone else thought the “rising sun” flag was “elite,” while many leaned towards the simplicity of the Golden Wattle.

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