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The emblem


We need your help to protect the emblems that protect lives.



In times of war, a red cross on a white background means 'don't shoot'. It shows that impartial assistance is available for anyone who needs it, with no discrimination to what side they belong to.

People die in conflicts when its meaning is misunderstood.

Under the Geneva Conventions, people bearing the emblems must be protected from attack, and allowed to carry out their life-saving work.

The red cross - an inversion of the Swiss flag - was chosen as the neutral symbol of protection in recognition of the historic link between Switzerland and the original Geneva Convention of 1864.

In some parts of the world, the red crescent or red crystal emblems are used. Their meaning is the same as the red cross. These emblems have the same protections in Australia as the red cross.

Protecting the emblem

Many people are unaware of the true meaning of the emblems and their importance. They are symbols of impartial protection in wartime. They are not logos, trademarks or general health care symbols.

Misuse of the emblems dilutes their true meaning. That is why there are strict rules governing their use.

Businesses, retailers and designers who use the red cross without authorisation from the Minister of Defence are breaking Australian law.

Resources and information for graphic designers and retailers.

You can help

Australian Red Cross is responsible for following up emblem misuses, and alerting people to the significance and protective status of the emblems. You can help:

Latest news

Photo: ICRC

8 May 2016 How you (and your smart phone) can protect lives

15 August 2014 Don't misuse emblems, says Red Cross

3 June 2014 Respect the emblems: Red Cross

12 March 2014 Red Cross no ordinary symbol

More information

The protective emblems: a special edition of our IHL Magazine

Guide to emblem use and possible alternative symbols