After Australia Day: Proper disposal of Australian flags

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The Australian National Flag is Australia’s foremost national symbol. Aside from representing Australia to the world, it is also used for showing people’s love and respect for their country. The flag is displayed in public buildings and during special occasions like Australia Day and Australian National Flag Day. However, some groups express their alarm for the improper disposal of the flag after such occasions.

This article includes historical information about the development of the Australian flag to include the defaced Blue Ensign of the Union Jack. In addition, the article includes reminders on how to properly and respectfully treat the Australian flag after use on special occasions.

The Australian flag

The current design of the Australian flag emerged from a number of years of designing and improving, from a sovereign-wide contest in 1901 to the approval of a slightly different design by King Edward VII in 1902. The Australian flag includes prominent symbols, including the Union Flag, The Commonwealth Star (also known as the Federation Star) and the Southern Cross. The current specifications of the Australian flag were published in the Commonwealth Gazette in 1934, and a legal definition of the Australian flag was included in the Flags Act 1953.

Scenarios after Australia Day

Every January 26, on Australia Day, Australians proudly display small versions of the country’s flag—on their cars, on their aprons, on their clothes, on their doors. New citizens also wave their Australia Day flag to celebrate their formal inclusion into the Australian community.

However, after the fervour of the day elapsed, many forget to properly dispose the national symbol as outlined in the protocols in the Flags Act 1953. Some flags are squandered anywhere, thrown in the trash, and crumpled or torn—all uncharacteristic of the respect Australians have for their country.

Desecration of the flag can also be seen in some urban areas, where the flags are left faded while still fluttering on their pole. In many places, there are various other forms of abuse, misuse and exploitation of Australia’s national icon.

Proper treatment of the flag

With Australians living busy lives every day, the requirement to treat the Australian flag properly and with respect can really get missed or forgotten. Australians are patriotic people, concerned of the overall welfare of their community.

The protocols for proper use of the Australian flag are simple and easy to follow. Raising should be brisk and done no earlier than dawn, and lowering should be ceremonious and no later than dusk. When flying the flag at night, it must be illuminated. It must always be flown upright, and must not fall aground or be used as cover.

These basic protocols are accompanied by simple rules on disposal. When dilapidated, discoloured, or damaged, the Australian flag must be destroyed with dignity and in private. In relation to Australia Day flag disposal, Australians may cut the flag into small pieces and dispose of it accordingly through standard refuse removal. This is an effective way to treat the national icon with respect equally during and after the height of intense patriotism on special occasions.

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