History of National Flag Day

The idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Australian National Flag dates from 1984. In that year John Christian Vaughan, a noted vexillographer and historian, arranged for the NSW branch of the Australian National Flag Association (ANFA) to observe 3 September as “National Flag Day” at a public ceremony held in Hyde Park, Sydney. In several newspaper articles, radio and television appearances over the following years, Vaughan continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of 3 September as Australia’s "National Flag Day".

In the Queensland ANFA newsletter of December 1987, our founding President Dr Rupert Goodman wrote: “A suggestion, certainly most interesting and novel, has been made that, whilst our flag should be flown every day of the year, one special day should be set aside annually as a national ‘Flag Day’ … Several dates for such an annual national observance have been suggested so far (including) …Jan 1, Jan 26, Feb 14 (date Royal Assent given to Flags Act 1953), April 25, May 9 (date of first opening of Commonwealth Parliament), and September 3..” .

 The following year, during the Bicentennial of 1988, a Brisbane ceremony was held in the forecourt of the City Plaza, Adelaide Street to celebrate our flag’s “birthday” on 3 September. In 1991 the event was held for the first time in King George Square, and since then “Flag Day” has been celebrated throughout Queensland by this Association every year.

Inspired by a decade of state and local celebrations, "Australian National Flag Day" - the birthday of the Australian National Flag - was officially established by the Proclamation of the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Sir William Deane, on 28 August 1996.

Flag Day 1996 was the 95th anniversary of our national flag and an official ceremony took place in the Martin Place Amphitheatre in the centre of Sydney. On that occasion Dr Brendan Nelson, MP, Federal member of Parliament introduced the Hon. David Jull, MP, Minister for Administrative Services, who read a message from the Prime Minister, the Hon. John Howard, MP. He then presented the ANFA with a copy of the proclamation by Sir William Deane.


Flag Day

The announcement that the Governor General had officially proclaimed 3 September as Australian National Flag Day was made at a special ceremony held at Martin Place, Sydney.

Mr John Vaughan is pictured here delivering an address to mark this historic occasion.

Message from Prime Minister
The Hon John Howard MP
National Flag Day
3 September 1996

In the lead-up to the Federal election in March this year, the Coalition set out our thoughts on the values, directions and policy priorities for Government.

Our policies place emphasis on the broad objective of unifying rather than dividing the Australian people, reflecting a confidence that Australians can form a cohesive national community notwithstanding our diverse backgrounds.

My Government seeks to re-enforce Australian values and to create a secure and stable environment for our national institutions and trust between Government and the people.

Protection and respect for our national symbols is an important part of this.

Our national flag is a unifying force. It is a familiar and powerful image, and a focus for national pride.

As promised, the Government has put forward legislation to ensure that the flag cannot be changed in any way without a national vote of the people.

I welcome the proclamation of September the 3rd as Flag Day and encourage all Australians to join in celebration of our foremost national symbol.


Few Australians know the unique and proud story of our flag –the only national flag to fly over an entire continent, but also the first to be chosen in an open public competition. Following federation in 1901, the new Commonwealth government arranged a competition to choose a flag for the new nation, and entries were submitted from nearly 1% of the population at that time. Five people tied for the honour of designing the Australian flag - Annie Dorrington, Ivor Evans, Leslie Hawkins, Egbert Nuttall, and William Stevens.  The winning design was unveiled on 3 September, which has been officially proclaimed as Australian National Flag Day. 


We’re all proud of our country and we can fly our flag to show it!