Australian national anthem changes by one word to reflect ‘spirit of unity’ and indigenous population
The Australian national anthem has been changed to reflect the nation’s “spirit of unity” and its indigenous population, the country’s prime minister has said.
The one-word change to Advance Australia Fair, from “For we are young and free” to “For we are one and free” takes effect on Friday.
Speaking on New Year’s Eve, Scott Morrison called Australia the “most successful multicultural nation on Earth,” adding that “it is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem”.
“While Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect,” he said.
“In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our national anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation.”
The move has been welcomed by the first indigenous Australian elected to the federal parliament’s lower house.
Ken Watt, Minister for Indigenous Australians, said in a statement that he had been asked about the change and supported it.
He called the one-word alteration “small in nature but significant in purpose”.
Mr Watt added: “It is an acknowledgement that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures date back 65,000 years.”
The change is not without its critics, however.
New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian has expressed support for indigenous Australians who said the national anthem does not reflect them and their history.
University of New South Wales law professor Megan Davis, a Cobble Cobble woman from the Barrungam nation in southwest Queensland state, criticised the lack of consultation with indigenous people about the change.
“This is a disappointing way to end 2020 and start 2021. Everything about us, without us,” she wrote on social media.
Last month, Australia’s national rugby team, the Wallabies, became the first sporting team to sing the anthem in an indigenous language before their match against Argentina.
Advance Australia Fair was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick and first performed in 1878.
It was adopted as the national anthem in 1984.
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