Australia changed its anthem to recognize indigenous history

The anthem, "Advance Australia Fair," has been tweaked to acknowledge the country's Indigenous history and communities, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced late Thursday, hours before 2021.The first line, "Australians all allow us to rejoice, for we are young and free," will now end with "one and free."

Australia changed its anthem to recognize indigenous history
Australia changed its anthem to recognize indigenous history

Australia has changed one word in its national anthem to reflect what the prime minister called “the spirit of unity” and the country’s Indigenous population.

The anthem, "Advance Australia Fair," has been tweaked to acknowledge the country's Indigenous history and communities, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced late Thursday, hours before 2021.The first line, "Australians all allow us to rejoice, for we are young and free," will now end with "one and free."

"Australia as a contemporary nation could also be relatively young, but our country's story is ancient, as are the stories of the various First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect," Morrison wrote in an opinion piece within the Sydney Morning Herald."In the spirit of unity, it's only right that we also now acknowledge this and ensure our anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation. Changing 'young and free' to 'one and free' takes nothing away, but i think it adds much."

The government features a history of adjusting the song to be more inclusive -- when Peter Dodds McCormick's original 1878 composition was declared the official anthem in 1984, replacing "God Save the Queen," two instances of "sons" were switched with gender-neutral phrasing.

The anthem has become controversial in recent years, amid growing conversation about Indigenous representation, systemic inequality, and racial injustice. especially , many have pushed back against the phrase "for we are young and free" -- a nod to when Britain's First Fleet landed in Australia in 1788 -- given Australia is home to at least one of the world's oldest known civilizations.

In 2018, a 9-year-old girl was attacked by prominent politicians, who involved her to be kicked out of faculty , because she refused to face during the anthem out of respect for the Indigenous population. In 2019, athletes made headlines for refusing to sing the anthem at football matches. And in 2020, national rugby union players sang the anthem within the language of the Eora Nation -- the primary time it's been sung in an Indigenous language at a serious sporting event.

Peter Vickery, the founder and chair of the non-profit Representation In Anthem, has been campaigning for a more inclusive anthem since 2016. "Many of our indigenous people found it difficult, if not impossible, to sing the exclusionary words of 'Advance Australia Fair'," Vickery said Friday. "We simply can't have an anthem which causes hurt to its own people."

Vickery worked with other Indigenous leaders and singers to make alternate, more inclusive lyrics -- one change being the phrase "one and free" that Morrison adopted. Their campaign gained greater visibility and momentum last year when Gladys Berejiklian, premier of latest South Wales state, expressed her support.
"Frankly, I'm elated," Vickery said. "It does achieve a serious objective of our work, which was to convert words of hurt or exclusion to words of inclusion, and embrace a multicultural society of the 21st century."

news source CNN

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