‘Changing the national anthem is real reconciliation’

2020 has thrown challenges at Australians like no year in decades.

We started the year blanketed in smoke with bushfires ravishing our land, we battled flood and the on-going drought, and we continue to live through a global pandemic that has taken loved ones, challenged our Australian way of life and wreaked unmatched economic havoc.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt supports changing the national anthem.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Through these challenges we have seen the very best Australians had to offer. We should take immense pride from one another and the way in which we have supported each other and our communities through this testing year.

It seems right, that as a nation we take a step forward together to acknowledge the strength and power of working together as one.

Our national anthem is a celebration and acknowledgement of who we are as a nation. It should recognise our Indigenous, British and multi-cultural history and is a call to look forward in unity with a determination to build a stronger and more rewarding Australia for all.

Earlier this year, when asked about a potential change to the anthem I indicated my support saying the proposal to change "We are young and free" to "We are one and free" removes a notion that has presented a challenge for many uniting behind our national song.

The change announced by the Prime Minister is small in nature but significant in purpose. It is an acknowledgment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures date back 65,000 years. It is an acknowledgement that people who have come across the seas, be it 250 years ago or families that have joined us over the years, are as much of this nation and our story as any other Australian.

And it is an acknowledgment that our future lies in us being one: one with ourselves and one with our history – the good and the bad.

Never before in our history has a single word better captured the uniqueness and achievement of the Australian story which is a rich history, we have worked to reconcile our differences and recognise our commonalities.

This journey has sometimes been painful. More so for some than others. It has been
challenging, and it will continue to be challenging.

Changing the national anthem is real reconciliation. It's something I've believed in for quite some time and a significant defining moment for the Morrison government. It reflects, what I believe to be true, that we as a nation stand more united and together today than we have at any time since 1788.

The change also acknowledges the success born out of the world's longest living continuous culture, the ever-lasting impact of European settlement and the richness of multicultural influence in completing our nation's fabric.

But it also acknowledges the sorrow that is sewn throughout – the hardships and disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians, not only today but for the years since Cook landed in Kamay, now known as Botany Bay.

Being 'one' reflects who we are as a nation and as a people. It acknowledges our divergent histories and signals that our future is one that will be walked together and in partnership with one another.

One demonstrates the hope of Australia, the Australian dream that opportunity is not defined by skin colour or post code but by grift, endeavour and a commitment to achieve. One signals our genuine commitment to ensure that no Australian is left behind.

As a child of a Stolen Generations mother, and a child who's risen to have the opportunity to serve my fellow Australians in our nation's Parliament, I am proud to sing our anthem. As an Australian I am proud to sing our anthem.

I want future generations of Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to feel
the same pride – be it here at home or on the world stage.

This change will allow that because it acknowledges our shared histories and is true to the
Australian dream, an Australia where we continue to strive, as one, and we continue to overcome our challenges, together, to be free. This is our moment of reconciliation and together we should grasp it and commit to the journey as we continue to walk together.

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