Civics Symbols: Investigation

Tuning in

Begin your investigation by becoming familiar with the flags most often used in Australia today. People are sometimes confused about the history of our national flag, and even just exactly what it looks like.

  1. Figure 1 has a short quiz which you can take, and use to test some other volunteers. How much do Australians really know about their flag? Write a paragraph on a small piece of card briefly describing what you found, and keep it somewhere safe. Did people seem to be well informed, or were there lots of wrong answers?

  2. Go to and download the video “Our National Flag since 1901”. If you can, slide the timer bar to 04:40 and watch the next 8 minutes about the history and design of our National and Indigenous flags. (Otherwise, watch the first 13 minutes). This video may also be available from your school library.

  3. Go to , and click on Australian National Flag or on Other Australian flags. This has much the same information, but in written form. Choose one of the flags and make a “Lift the Flap” information card about it. The instructions are in Figure 2. Ask if you could swap with a few other students who have done this activity and see how much you know about each flag before you lift the flap to check your answers. Take out your previous paragraph on the state of Australians’ knowledge about their flags and add some extra comments. Pin the card to a display board headed “Opinion Pieces” with those of other students.

  4. Now we will work on the Australian National Flag. Click on Click on Flag History > The Australian Flag > History, and read more about how the Australian National Flag came to be. You could also scroll down to the first interview with John Vaughan and listen to the story of the flag competition. Your school library could have the CD “Our Destiny – Centenary Edition”, which has further information on the flag and an interactive game using some of the symbols suggested in the competition.

Imagine that you were living at that time and draw your own entry for the competition. It must include something about Australia’s connection with Britain, which was very important at the time, not be too complicated but also be original. With other students, make a display of your entries – you might like to have a secret vote for a winner.

For the teacher | Introduction | Investigation | Review existing information | Report the findings | Taking Action | Evaluation and assessment | Resources