The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok from Thursday Island. This flag, rich in symbolism, was the winning entry in a design competition in 1992, organised as part of a cultural revival workshop by the Islands Coordinating Council.
The flag’s vibrant colours represent the Torres Strait Islander people’s connection to the land, sea, and sky. The green panels at the top and bottom symbolise the land, the central blue panel represents the sea, and the lines dividing the panels represent the people of the Torres Strait Islands. In the centre, a white dhari (dancer’s headdress) signifies the unique culture of the Torres Strait Islander people. Below the dhari, a white five-pointed star represents peace, the five major island groups, and the navigational importance of stars to the seafaring people of the Torres Strait.
Each element of the Torres Strait Islander flag holds special meaning and reflects the cultures and traditions of the Torres Strait Islanders, who are deeply connected to the land, sea, and sky. The flag was officially presented to the people of the Torres Strait at the sixth Torres Strait Cultural Festival on 29 May 1992 and was recognized by the Australian Government as an official 'Flag of Australia' under the Flags Act 1953 in July 1995.
The Torres Strait Islander flag's meaning goes beyond its colours and symbols; it is a representation of the unity and identity of all Torres Strait Islanders. It stands as a reminder of the resilience, strength, and enduring spirit of the Torres Strait Islander people. It's a representation of a community’s soul and spirit, echoing their past, present, and future.
Remembering the late Bernard Namok, the original designer, is crucial when reproducing the flag, and permission must be received in writing from the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) prior to its use, ensuring respect and acknowledgment of its origins and significance.
The Torres Strait Islander flag is more than a national symbol; it is a living, breathing representation of the Torres Strait Islander people, their land, their sea, their sky, and their journey.