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Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Significance

The Commonwealth Coat of Arms is the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia that signifies Commonwealth authority and ownership.

The Commonwealth Coat of Arms is used by Australian Government departments and agencies, statutory and non-statutory authorities, the Parliament and Commonwealth courts and tribunals.

Guidelines

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet publishes Guidelines on the use of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The Guidelines establish that individuals can apply to the Honours, Symbols and Territories Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for permission in writing to use the Commonwealth Coat of Arms (refer to the Guidelines for contact details). The Honours, Symbols and Territories Branch has discretion to grant permission in limited circumstances, including for the purposes of education, and for Australian teams competing in international competitions.

Use of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms without permission may breach the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the Trade Marks Act 1995 and the Criminal Code Act 1995.

Importation of goods bearing the Commonwealth Coat of Arms is prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.

History

King Edward VII made the first official grant of a coat of arms to the Commonwealth of Australia in a Royal Warrant dated 7 May 1908.

King George V granted the second Commonwealth Coat of Arms in a Royal Warrant dated 19 September 1912.

You can view a copy of the Royal Warrant.

The significant change was to include the symbols of the states on the shield.

1908 Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The first Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The first Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The Arms were composed of a simple shield of white and blue enclosing a cross of St George on which there were five six-pointed white stars, around the outside of which were six small escutcheons, i.e. small shields. The shield was supported by a kangaroo and an emu standing on a grassy mound. Above the shield was the crest containing the seven-pointed gold star of Federation on a wreath of white and blue. The motto 'Advance Australia' was inscribed at the base.

1912 Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The absence of specific references to the states in the shield in the 1908 Arms led to a number of alterations approved on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Government by King George V. The new design included a shield with six parts each containing a representation of the badge of a state.

The positions and poses of the supporters were also changed. The colours of the wreath of the crest were altered to gold and blue. These are the 'livery' or identifying colours of the Arms.

The new Arms were accompanied by small branches of wattle, ornamental rests for the supporters, and a scroll with the word 'Australia' – none of which are actually mentioned in the 1912 Royal Warrant.

There are ten variations of the 1912 Arms – the colour version, four variations of the conventional Arms and five variations of the stylised Arms.

Commonwealth Coat of Arms

1912 Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Commonwealth Coat of Arms
(conventional)

Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Commonwealth Coat of Arms
(stylised)

Description of the 1912 Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The blazon or official description of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms is contained in the Royal Warrant. The blazon describes a coat of arms in heraldic terms, enabling accurate reproduction in any part of the world.

Symbols of Australia’s six states appear together on the shield, which is the central feature of a coat of arms. The border of the shield symbolises federation.

The kangaroo and emu are the native animals that hold the shield with pride. Some say the kangaroo and emu were chosen to symbolise a nation moving forward. This is based on the common belief that neither animal can move backwards easily.

A gold Commonwealth Star sits above the shield. Six of the star’s points represent the Australian states. The seventh point represents the territories. A wreath of gold and blue sits under the Commonwealth Star. Gold and blue are the Commonwealth Coat of Arms’ livery or identifying colours.

Australia’s floral emblem, the golden wattle, frames the shield and supporters. A scroll contains the word ‘Australia’.

Description of the Shield

Symbols of Australia’s six states appear on the shield:

  • New South Wales – the Cross of St George with lion and stars
  • Victoria – the Southern Cross
  • Queensland – a blue Maltese Cross and Crown
  • South Australia – the Australian piping shrike
  • Western Australia – a black swan
  • Tasmania – a red walking lion

Coat of Arms Blazon - First Quarter (representing New South Wales)

Coat of Arms Blazon
First Quarter
(representing New
South Wales)

First Quarter (representing New South Wales)

Background silver, featuring the Cross of St George containing an heraldic gold lion, walking to the wearer's right (viewer's left), three paws on the ground, the right forepaw being raised, the head turned so as to face the spectator and the tail curved over the back, and on each arm of the cross an eight-pointed gold star.

Coat of Arms Blazon - Second Quarter (representing Victoria)

Coat of Arms Blazon
Second Quarter
(representing Victoria)

Second Quarter (representing Victoria)

Background blue, containing five stars, one of eight points, two of seven points, one of six points and one of five points (the constellation of the Southern Cross) with an Imperial Crown in normal colours placed above the first star.

Coat of Arms Blazon - Third Quarter (representing Queensland)

Coat of Arms Blazon
Third Quarter
(representing
Queensland)

Third Quarter (representing Queensland)

Background silver, containing a blue Maltese Cross surmounted by an Imperial Crown in normal colours.

Coat of Arms Blazon - Fourth Quarter (representing South Australia)

Coat of Arms Blazon
Fourth Quarter
(representing South
Australia)

Fourth Quarter (representing South Australia)

Background gold, containing an Australian Piping Shrike perched on a twisted band of green and red (the bird has its back to the viewer).

Coat of Arms Blazon - Fifth Quarter (representing Western Australia)

Coat of Arms Blazon
Fifth Quarter
(representing Western
Australia)

Fifth Quarter (representing Western Australia)

Background gold featuring a black swan swimming to the wearer's left (viewer's right).

Coat of Arms Blazon - Sixth Quarter (representing Tasmania)

Coat of Arms Blazon
Sixth Quarter
(representing
Tasmania)

Sixth Quarter (representing Tasmania)

Background silver, featuring a red lion walking to the wearer's right (viewer's left) three paws on the ground, the right forepaw being raised, the head looking forward and the tail curved over the back.

Images of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms

The Commonwealth Coat of Arms must be reproduced accurately. The officially approved variations of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms can be downloaded:

Factsheet

This information is also available as a print fact sheet.

Note: For more information on PDF files and their use see the PDF Help page on this site.

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Last Updated: 11 November, 2013