The judging of the Australian Flag - Professional Design Competition was conducted at the Sheraton on the Park Hotel on Monday 27 October 1997.
The Judges (representing the following organisations and groups) were as follows:
, The Design Institute of Australia
, The Australian Graphic Design Association
, The Royal Australian Institute of Architects
, The Australian Textile Design Association and the Society of Interior Designers of Australia
, Indigenous Australians
, The Flag Society of Australia
, Ausflag Limited
The judging proceeded with each and every design being displayed for discussion and selection or rejection. Where all judges agreed, the design was either accepted or rejected. Where one judge or more said the opposite to the majority the design was further discussed. When in doubt the design was included for further consideration.
In the first round, approximately 250 designs were selected, including some similar designs. These designs were then displayed in groups so the judges could consider them more easily.
A process of elimination then took place to select the best designs of each group and representative designs of each type or concept. This round reduced the choices to approximately 150 designs. Then a more formal scoring and ranking procedure was used in the final round to determine the 100 finalists.
It was evident that many designs had similar elements, similar colours and themes of Southern Cross, stars, landscapes and indigenous markings and so on. The judges were at pains to select the best of these designs in terms of colour use, proportion, impact and simplicity.
Where questions of vexillology or protocol or heraldry arose debate took place and the expert opinion of the Flag Society of Australia was bought to bear.
The judging was harmonious and unanimous.
The judges agreed that the competition had had an excellent response and had produced worthwhile results. The 100 designs selected should provide the public with much food for thought and inspiration. The top 20 designs, as voted by the public, were announced on 26 January, 1999. The top 10 designs, as chosen by the Assessment Panel, were announced on 1 May 1999. The Assessment Panel contacted these designers and made a final choice as to the best designs. The overall winners were announced on Australia Day, 26 January, 2000.
To ensure completely transparent judging, the names of the 100 finalists remained strictly confidential, and the names of the overall winners were released only after the final judging was completed.
The Executive Director, Harold Scruby, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome and thanked the other judges and Chris Finn of the Sydney Cove Law Group for their participation. He said:
"The response to this competition would seem to favour the strong desire of many designers to have a unique symbol of our own which is not derivative of another culture or nation.
"There is evidence of a general wish to have a link with the past - a sense of continuity. Perhaps 100 years of (flag) history have influenced most competitors but some new and exciting ways of incorporating our national symbols seems to be emerging."
The Designs were exhibited at the Museum of Sydney and the Art Gallery of Western Australia from Australia Day 1998. The Exhibition then travelled around Australia and was displayed at distinguished venues, finishing in Melbourne in December 1998.