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Tenth Nugget Coombs Memorial Lecture

'The History and Future of the Aboriginal Flag'
Presenter Charles Darwin University and Australian National University
Contact person
Location Red 7 - Mal Nairn Auditorium


The History and Future of the Aboriginal Flag

This lecture will be in the form of a panel, with a storytelling format of how Harold Thomas conceived of and created the iconic Aboriginal Flag – the copyright of which was recently purchased by the Commonwealth Government, 50 years after it was first flown. Mr. Thomas was represented by copyright lawyers Colin Golvan and Chrystal Dare. The evening will include a discussion about the possible future of the Flag as a pre-eminent national symbol.

Harold Thomas
Harold Thomas is a world class artist who graduated from at the South Australian School of Art in 1969. As a young man, he was the first Aboriginal employed in a state museum in South Australia and soon after designed the Aboriginal Flag. Over 50 years later, the image of the flag he created is now well-known world-wide as a symbol of Australia. Its purchase in 2022 represents the highest price ever paid for an individual piece of Aboriginal art in Australia.

Colin Golvan AM QC is an IP barrister at the Victorian Bar. He has appeared in copyright, trademarks, designs and patent cases, as well as competition and misleading conduct cases, in the Federal and High Court of Australia. Colin has acted in numerous copyright infringement cases for Aboriginal artists. He represented Harold Thomas in his authorship dispute in the 1990s, and in the recent assignment of copyright in the Aboriginal flag to the Commonwealth. He is a trustee of the Namatjira Legacy Trust and was also involved with the recent recovery of the copyright of Albert Namatjira.

Chrystal Dare, Corrs Special Counsel has over 14 years of experience as an intellectual property litigator and advisor, specialising and having her personal passion in copyright, trademarks, misleading conduct, designs, domains and international issues in IP. Chrystal works across different sectors – including the arts, technology, luxury goods/fashion and wine. Within the arts sector, Chrystal also sits on the board of the peak body for art galleries in Victoria (the PGAV).


Nugget Coombs Memorial Lecture

Hosted in partnership with Charles Darwin University and the Australian National University.

The Nugget Coombs Memorial Lecture is a free public lecture that, from 2010 has been co-presented by the Australian National University through its North Australian Research Unit (NARU) and Charles Darwin University through its Deputy Vice-Chancellor, First Nations Leadership and Engagement portfolio.

The lecture is named in honour of Dr Herbert Cole (H. C., better known as "Nugget") Coombs, born 24 February 1906 and died 29 October 1997.

Nugget Coombs was an Australian economist and public servant probably best known for his role as Governor of the Reserve Bank (appointed in 1960), and who, in his post-retirement years, made a significant contribution to enhancing the rights of Australia's Indigenous peoples, especially to land.

Coombs was Chancellor of ANU from 1968-1976. In 1973, ANU established its North Australia Research Unit in Darwin. In retirement in 1977, Coombs became a Visiting Fellow at the ANU's Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies (CRES) in Canberra. It was in this capacity that he began visiting NARU's newly acquired offices and residential accommodation from the early 1980s. Nugget became a regular visitor for quite extended periods for more than a decade.

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