What is #FreeTheFlag – and why should we care?

Last weekend saw the AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round for 2020. It’s an event held each year to pay tribute to the incredible diversity of Australia’s First Peoples – and their contributions, both on and off the footy field. 

This year’s event was marked by controversy, as it was revealed that the Aboriginal flag would not be displayed. 

We caught up with Directors Carla and Aunty Munya just before the round took place. These are their thoughts, in their own words.

Aunty Munya

There are two non-Aboriginal people who own copyright to the flag now. Before, it was available for all Aboriginal people – for all people, really. And now, an organisation actually owns the copyright. This is placing limitations on where the flag can be displayed – for instance where the football is reported, and they might not be able to display it in the Indigenous round that’s coming up. 

And how these people get to own copyright of the Australian flag is absolutely disgusting. It shouldn’t even be passed in legislation. They shouldn’t have been able to go through the legal process to obtain copyright.

Can you imagine somebody placing copyright on the Australian flag? Everybody would be up in arms. So why should our flag be treated any differently?

It’s quite demoralising. And once again people feel, “Look, they’ve stolen our land, they’ve stolen our children, and now they’ve stolen our flag.”

When is this going to stop, this theft of Aboriginal culture? 

I think the best thing non-Indigenous people can do is to raise awareness about the issue. There has been plenty of talk on social media, for instance. There is a petition going around on Facebook that people can sign to protest against the theft of our flag, and the whole copyright hold on it as well. 

My message to non-Indigenous people would be to get behind Aboriginal people that are trying to raise awareness about this issue. Support Indigenous people. 


Sir Doug Nicholls Round is a really exciting round in the AFL. And to have to pay for copyright to use the flag … what impact must this have for Aboriginal people? How must that impact your soul, your spirit?

As a non-Indigenous person, it makes me feel really, really sad. I almost feel like tearing up now. 

I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that also feel very sad about this and want to do something. As a non-Indigenous person, I think there are actions we can take to take a step towards Reconciliation, to begin to right some of these shocking wrongs.

Listening is such a simple action, but it can be so powerful. At Evolve, our R3 Culture approach takes the small step of listening and breaks it down into even smaller actions. It reminds us to work through all conflict or challenging situations with clarity and empathy. 

We reflect, we relate, we reconcile. 

One other thing we always say in parting is just ‘take care of each other’. 

Often, that’s the first thing we can do – but it’s critical.

To sign the Change.org petition, click here

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