Flag Protocol

Protocols for Raising and Lowering a Flag

  • The Australian flag should be raised smartly and lowered ceremonially.
  • When other flags are present, it should be hoisted first and lowered last.
  • It should not be allowed to touch or lie on the ground.
  • It should be treated with respect and dignity, be replaced when worn and disposed of reverently.
  • If flown at night it should be illuminated.

When flown with other flags.

The Australian flag must always take the position of honour, that is, generally speaking, above or on the left when viewed from outside. The book Australian Flags gives excellent details of the many possible combinations, summarised here for pole groupings:

  • When there are two poles; flown on the left.
  • When three poles; in the centre.
  • If of uneven height; on the tallest.
  • When four poles, on the left or each end.
  • When crossed staves; on left and staff in front.
  • With state or club flags; on the left.
  • On a cross arm pole; at the top when two others.
  • On the cross arm; at left if one other is flying.


  • 1st January: Anniversary of the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • 26th January: Australia Day.
  • March, 2nd Monday: Commonwealth Day.
  • 25th April: Anzac Day.
  • 9th May: ACT only. Anniversary of inauguration of Canberra as the seat of government.
  • June, 2nd Monday: Queen’s Birthday except WA (in October).
  • 3rd September: Australian National Flag Day.
  • 24th October: UN Day.
  • 11th November: Remembrance Day.

Flying a Flag at Half Mast.

The following instructions are from the Australian Government Flag Protocols Page:

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. The half-mast position will depend on the size of the flag and the length of the flagpole. The flag must be lowered to a position recognisably half-mast to avoid the appearance of a flag that has accidentally fallen away from the top of the flagpole.An acceptable position would be when the top of the flag is a third of the distance down from the top of the flagpole.

Flags in any locality can be flown at half-mast when someone local dies, or on the day of their funeral.

When lowering the flag from a half-mast position it should be briefly raised to the peak and then lowered ceremoniously.

The flag should never be flown at half-mast at night even if it is illuminated.

When flying the Australian National Flag with other flags, all flags in the set should be flown at half-mast.

Using the flag at funerals

The flag can be used to cover the coffin of any Australian at their funeral.

The upper left quarter of the flag should be draped over the ‘left shoulder’ of the coffin to represent the heart and the flag should be removed before the coffin is lowered into the ground, or after the service at a crematorium.

If you would like to read the Australian Government protocols in further detail, please click here.