Protocols for flags

Raising and lowering a flag

There are protocols to follow when raising (hoisting) 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.

Funerals. The Jack draped above the left shoulder of the deceased.


1st January: Anniversary of the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia.

26th January: Australia Day.

March, 2nd Monday: Commonwealth Day.

23rd 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.

Half Mast.

There are two acceptable positions: (1) Lower the flag equivalent to its height, leaving room for the invisible “flag of death” above it, and (2) lower it one third the height of the pole. When half masting, the flag should be raised to the peak before being lowered to its half mast position. When lowering from the half mast position, raise it to the peak before lowering it. All operations should be done with dignity and reverence.


There are no “Flag Police” in Australia where we tend to take a casual attitude towards protocol and etiquette. It is pretty much up to the individual to display good manners, and while one is seldom condemned for disobeying the rules, to do so does not enhance one’s image in the eyes of those who know the difference.

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