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Coat of arms of Australia

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Commonwealth Coat of Arms
Escutcheon-only version
Adopted19 September 1912
CrestThe Commonwealth Star: A seven-pointed star, or (gold)
TorseOr and azure (blue)
Shieldsee below
SupportersDexter (left) a red kangaroo, sinister (right) an emu, both proper (natural colours)
Compartmentnone, golden wattle is depicted in its place in commonly used versions
Mottonone, the name of the country is written on a scroll in commonly used versions
Commonwealth Coat of Arms 1908–1912
Adopted7 May 1908
Relinquished19 September 1912
CrestCommonwealth Star
TorseArgent and azure
ShieldAzure on an Inescutcheon Argent upon a Cross of St. George cottised of the field five six pointed Stars of the second (representing the Constellation of the Southern Cross) all within an Orle of Inescutcheons of the second, each charged with a Chevron Gules
SupportersRed kangaroo and emu, both proper
CompartmentGrassy field proper
MottoAdvance Australia

The coat of arms of Australia, officially the Commonwealth Coat of Arms,[1] is a formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia.[2] It depicts a shield, containing symbols of Australia's six states, and is held up by native Australian animals, the kangaroo and the emu.[3] The seven-pointed Commonwealth Star surmounting the crest also represents the states and territories, while golden wattle, the national floral emblem, appears below the shield.[3]

The first arms were authorised by King Edward VII on 7 May 1908, and the current version by King George V on 19 September 1912, although the 1908 version continued to be used in some contexts, notably appearing on the reverse of the sixpenny coin.


The escutcheon is the focal point of the coat of arms, contained within is the badge of each Australian state, the whole surrounded by an ermine border representing the federation of the states.[2]

State Badge Description
New South Wales the cross of St. George with lion
and stars
Victoria St Edward's Crown and Southern Cross
Queensland a blue Maltese cross and St Edward's Crown
South Australia the Australian piping shrike
Western Australia a black swan
Tasmania a red lion passant

In the top half, from left to right, the states represented are New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In the bottom half, from left to right: South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Above the shield is the seven-pointed Commonwealth Star or Star of Federation above a blue and gold wreath, forming the crest. Six of the points on the star represent the original six states, while the seventh point represents the combined territories and any future states of Australia. In its entirety the shield represents the federation of Australia.

The red kangaroo and emu that support the shield have never been designated as official animal emblems of the nation.[4] They owe their unofficial recognition to the fact that they are endemic Australian fauna (found only on that continent), and likely chosen because they are the most well-known native Australian animals large enough to be positioned together in scale holding up the shield. They symbolise progress and the nation moving forward as neither animal can easily walk backwards.[1] Director of the Parliament House Art Collection, Justine Van Mourik has claimed that the kangaroo is, and must be seen to be, male, and this requirement led to a interpretation by John Coburn of the coat of arms for Parliament house to be rejected.[5]

In the background is a wreath of golden wattle, the official national floral emblem, though the representation of the species is not botanically accurate.[6] At the bottom is a scroll that contains the name of the nation. While almost always depicted, these elements are technically optional artistic flourishes as they are not described in the royal warrant for the arms.[4]


The official blazon of the Commonwealth was included in a royal warrant of King George V on 19 September 1912, that officially granted the arms. The blazon is as follows:[1]

Quarterly of six, the first quarter Argent a Cross Gules charged with a Lion passant guardant between on each limb a Mullet of eight points Or; the second Azure five Mullets, one of eight, two of seven, one of six and one of five points of the first (representing the Constellation of the Southern Cross) ensigned with an Imperial Crown proper; the third of the first a Maltese Cross of the fourth, surmounted by a like Imperial Crown; the fourth of the third, on a Perch wreathed Vert and Gules an Australian Piping Shrike displayed also proper; the fifth also Or a Swan naiant to the sinister Sable; the last of the first, a Lion passant of the second, the whole within a Bordure Ermine; for the Crest on a Wreath Or and Azure A Seven-pointed Star Or, and for Supporters dexter a Kangaroo, sinister an Emu, both proper.

The following is the blazon for the 1908 coat of arms:[7]

Azure on an Inescutcheon Argent upon a Cross of St. George cottised of the field five six pointed Stars of the second (representing the Constellation of the Southern Cross) all within an Orle of Inescutcheons of the second, each charged with a Chevron Gules, And for the Crest on the wreath of the Colours A seven pointed star Or—And for supporters On a compartment of grass to the dexter, a Kangaroo, to the sinster an Emu both proper, together with the motto "Advance Australia".


An 1899 suggested version, and the Australian Federation Flag

Following the federation of Australia, the first official coat of arms of Australia was granted by King Edward VII on 7 May 1908.[8][9] The original design is thought to have been inspired by the 1805 Bowman flag, which showed the rose, shamrock and thistle supported by a kangaroo and emu.[10]

Bowman Flag 1806 depicts the emu and kangaroo as supporters.
Original Bowman flag

It consisted of a shield in the centre, the seven pointed star on a wreath as the crest above it, and a kangaroo and an emu using its foot to help the kangaroo to support the shield, all on a bed of green grass with a scroll containing the motto "Advance Australia". The selection of the kangaroo, the emu and the words, "Advance Australia" were tied together symbolically. The shield had a white background, with a red cross of Saint George, blue lines outside the cross, and a blue border containing six inescutcheons featuring a red chevron on white, representing the six states. The Scottish Patriotic Association was vocally opposed to the shield's design, noting that it should display the Union Jack to represent British and Irish settlers.[11] These arms were used by the government and appeared on the sixpence coin from 1910 until 1963, and the threepence, shilling and florin from 1910 to 1936.

The 1908 arms were redesigned in 1911, and officially granted by George V on 19 September 1912. The redesign spurred much debate in Parliament. The member of Parliament for Wentworth, Willie Kelly, said:[12]

The emu and kangaroo are so built that they hardly fit into the heraldic atmosphere, and I think we make ourselves ridiculous when we endeavour to carry on the traditions of the Old World with some of the wild creations of our Australian fauna.

Despite objections, the kangaroo and emu now not having its leg up remained the shield bearers in the new coat of arms and were modified to appear more realistic. The principal reason for the redesign was the concern that Australia's states were not individually represented; that was achieved by showing each state's heraldic badge on the shield. The new coat of arms removed the bed of grass beneath the shield and changed the scroll to read simply "Australia". The colours in the wreath were also changed from blue and white to blue and gold. A background of two sprays of golden wattle was added, but it has never been an official part of the armorial bearings,[4] although later golden wattle was proclaimed Australia's national flower on 19 August 1988.[13]

The use of each state's badge had been a feature of the first Great Seal of Australia, introduced on 21 January 1904, where they surrounded the UK Royal Arms; according to Charles R. Wylie, badges were used because South Australia and Western Australia did not yet have coats of arms.[14]

In 1954, the Menzies government engaged several artists (including Alistair Morrison, Alfred Cook, Cedric Emanuel and Eileen Mayo) to consider a redesign of the arms. While not wishing to change the major elements, the government "was anxious" to add a crown and remove the golden wattle (for ease of reproduction). Bill Taylor MP also suggested that the arms be reissued as a version of the royal arms, like the Canadian royal arms of 1921, to accord with Australia's greater independence following the Statute of Westminster 1931.[15]


The Commonwealth Coat of Arms is the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia that signifies Commonwealth authority and ownership. The Arms are used by Australian Government departments and agencies, statutory and non-statutory authorities, the Parliament and Commonwealth courts and tribunals. Senators and Federal Members of the Australian Parliament may also use the Arms in the course of their duties as Parliamentarians.[2] The coat of arms should never be used where it could wrongly imply a formal guarantee, sponsorship or endorsement by the Commonwealth.[16] Use of the arms by private citizens or organisations is rarely permitted; however, there are provisions for use by sporting bodies and in educational publications. Use of the coat of arms without permission may breach the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, section 145.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 or section 39(2) of the Trade Marks Act 1995.[1][17] The import of goods bearing the arms is also illegal according to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.

There is a full colour version and nine heraldically correct official versions exist for single-colour reproduction.

The coat of arms was the basis of Queen Elizabeth's Personal Australian Flag,[18] and since 1973 a slightly modified version has formed the basis of the Great Seal of Australia.[19]

The coat of arms has appeared on Australian coinage since the coins for the Australian pound were minted in the early 20th century. Until 1936, the 1908 coat of arms featured on the reverse of all silver coins in regular circulation(3d, 6d, 1'/, 2'/). After 1936, the current coat of arms was featured on the reverse of the Florin (2'/), while the 1908 arms remained on the sixpence (6d). Since decimalisation in 1966, the current coat of arms has featured on the reverse of both variants of the 50-cent coin.

The coat of arms is used as badge of rank for Warrant Officers Class 1 (Army)[20] and Warrant Officer (Navy[21] and Air Force[22]). A more stylised version is used as a badge of rank for Warrant Officer of the Navy, Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army and Warrant Officer of the Air Force.

Australians are frequently claimed to be the only people who eat the animals on their coat of arms,[23] and the combination of both kangaroo and emu meat in a single dish such as pie[24] or pizza[25] is known as the Coat of Arms.

States and territories[edit]

New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia
Western Australia Tasmania Northern Territory Norfolk Island



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Commonwealth Coat of Arms". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  2. ^ a b c Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2014). Commonwealth Coat of Arms information and Guidelines. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "National symbols - Parliamentary Education Office". peo.gov.au. Archived from the original on 7 February 2023. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "Coat of Arms". About Australia. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  5. ^ Crabb, Annabel. "Episode 2". The House With Annabel Crabb. Episode 2. 26 minutes in. ABC. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  6. ^ "Australian Coat of Arms". WorldWideWattle. Archived from the original on 4 December 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Warrant Granting Armorial Ensigns and Supporters to the Commonwealth of Australia". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. No. 39. 8 August 1908. p. 1181 – via Trove, National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ The Armorial Ensigns of the Commonwealth of Australia 1980. Commonwealth of Australia ISBN 0-642-04793-6
  9. ^ "Australia's Coat of Arms". The Daily Telegraph. No. 9097. New South Wales, Australia. 27 July 1908. p. 8 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ Letter from William Gullick to Atlee Hunt, 10 July 1908
  11. ^ "Australia's Coat of Arms". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. No. 10, 423. New South Wales, Australia. 4 April 1908. p. 7 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ Kelly, Willie (31 October 1912). Hansard (ed.). "House of Representatives: 31 October 1912: 4th Parliament · 3rd Session". Historic Hansard. p. 4954. Archived from the original on 7 June 2023.
  13. ^ "Floral Emblems of Australia". Australian National Botanic Gardens. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  14. ^ Flinders Barr (1 October 1932). "The Great Seal". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 9. Archived from the original on 14 November 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019 – via trove.nla.gov.au.; "C. R. Wylie". AustLit. University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 15 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Commonwealth Coat of Arms - Proposed redesign". National Archives of Australia. 1954–1956. pp. 84–85, 97. NAA: A463, 1956/219 PART 2.
  16. ^ Use of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms General Guidelines Archived 19 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ It's an Honour – Commonwealth Coat of Arms Archived 15 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Her Majesty the Queen's Personal Flag for Australia". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 27 September 2023. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  19. ^ Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (2022). Australian Symbols (PDF). Commonwealth of Australia. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-642-47131-4. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 May 2023.
  20. ^ Australian Army. "Ranks". Army. Archived from the original on 15 October 2023. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  21. ^ Royal Australian Navy. "Ranks of the Royal Australian Navy". Navy. Archived from the original on 7 June 2023. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  22. ^ Royal Australian Air Force. "Ranks". Air Force. Archived from the original on 30 March 2023. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  23. ^ Withers, Rachel (26 January 2018). "Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story Examines Australians' Relationship With the National Icon They Both Love and Eat". Slate. Archived from the original on 4 May 2024. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  24. ^ Chapman-Scott, Dale (9 July 2010). "Coat of arms pie with bunya nuts". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 4 May 2024. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  25. ^ Pham, Peter (17 May 2019). "A Half Kangaroo, Half Emu Pizza Is A Unique and Delicious Reality In Australia". Foodbeast. Archived from the original on 4 May 2024. Retrieved 4 May 2024.

External links[edit]