Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Free the Flag Campaign Wins!

Win for Aboriginal Clothing Brands

Clothing the Gaps, co-founded by Laura Thompson, is a social enterprise that has not only evolved into the largest Aboriginal owned and led clothing label, but has spearheaded campaigns to bring about important social change. They have just scored a massive win to make the Aboriginal flag available for public use.

Clothing the Gaps spearheaded a campaign to “Free the Flag” after the copyright holder of the design for the Aboriginal Flag, Harold Thomas, sold it. For many years, this meant that the iconic design was prevented from being used unless licensing fees were paid.

That campaign has now scored a massive victory after the Federal Government announced late last night that the symbol can now be used freely and pubilcly, after the Government purchased the copyright in a $20 million deal.

Always Was Always Will be Tee worn by one of the Clothing the Gaps team

The Situation

Aboriginal people had been unable to freely use their flag without asking for permission and paying a fee to non-indigenous people.

“The Aboriginal flag is one of the only nationally recognised flags in the world that is copyrighted. Harold Thomas, the designer of the Aboriginal flag held the copyright and licensed it to three non-indigenous companies.  Free The Flag campaign aimed to free the Aboriginal flag from its current licensing agreements and see Aboriginal people have equal rights and access to their flag. The flag turned 50 last year, and we were hoping something could be done by then. However it was in the hands of the Government. All we could do was keep making noise and pressuring the Government to take action.” – Laura Thompson, Co-Founder, Clothing the Gaps

“Our campaigning and advocacy led to a Senate Inquiry in Parliament! We often use this as an example when we talk about your tee making impact and change.” 

The AFL has been supportive of the Free the Flag campaign. How’d you get them behind it?

Collingwood Football Club was the first AFL club to jump on board the campaign in 2019. We had plans to release this partnership and raise awareness to wider Australia about the current issue on the Sir Douglas Nicholls Round in 2020.

Aboriginal clothing

However COVID got in the way and hindered our plans to release this in a big way, because at that point the AFL didn’t even know if it was going ahead. However, they worked their magic and AFL went on. Two weeks prior to the Sir Douglas Nicholls Round, Collingwood wanted to revisit the partnership and campaign. All we wanted was for people to know about the current issue and to support the campaign.

Eddie Betts wearing Free the Flag Tee

Only three days before the round, we had somehow got in contact with all eighteen clubs and within those three days all eighteen clubs were supporting the campaign for the Indigenous Round. We could not have done this without the power of people! The deadly Aboriginal people working within the clubs and all the clubs loyal, passionate supporters made the Free The Flag campaign happen in the AFL.

Aboriginal clothing

We would like to give a special mention to Nathan Lovett-Murray, Belinda Duarte and Shelley Ware.

Clothing the Gaps is a young enterprise, yet straight out of the starting blocks it is accredited as ethical clothing. This must have been a high priority?

Caring for Country is something that is especially important to us. We want to make sure we are making our clothes as ethically and sustainably as we can.

Three women wearing Clothing the Gaps windcheater

COVID made us all aware of the importance of supporting local and the impact it has. We have an amazing relationship with our manufacturer in Thomastown. Our business helped him stay alive and get through COVID and he has helped us learn and develop the best products.

Two women wearing Shades of Deadly tees

@closingthegaps

See more about Clothing the Gap
Featured Image: Laura Thompson, co-founder, Clothing the Gaps

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