The cross and the boat, symbols of faith and unity, have long served as symbols of the ecumenical movement. The version currently used by the NCCA, incorporating waves and the Southern Cross was designed for the formation of the new NCCA in 1994.
This symbol portrays the Church as a ship afloat on the sea of the world with the mast in the form of a cross, itself the symbol par excellence of the Christian Faith. It is not clear when the symbol was first adopted for the ecumenical movement but it was in use before the inauguration of the World Council of Churches in 1948. It is likely the symbol of a boat has its origin in the Gospel stories of the calling by Jesus of Galilean fishermen and the stilling of the storm by Jesus on the lake of Galilee. (See FAQ on the WCC Website)
The version used by the NCCA, by including the Southern Cross, often shown against a night blue sky, indicates our position in the southern hemisphere, and identity as many races under the cross dwelling in the great south land, Terra Australis. The arrival of suffering peoples to Australia by boat have given renewed poignancy to this symbol in recent times.