'We are one and free': Australian anthem changed to recognise Indigenous people

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Published: Dec 31, 2020, 09:27 PM(IST)

File photo of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

From January 1, 2021, the second line of Australia's national anthem will change from, 'For we are young and free' to 'For we are one and free'

In a historic move, Australia changed a line in its national anthem to recognise the history of the Indigenous people in the country.

From January 1, 2021, the second line of Australia's national anthem will change from, 'For we are young and free' to 'For we are one and free'.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the second line in the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, would change from "For we are young and free" to "For we are one and free".

"Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, but our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect," Morrison wrote in The Age newspaper on New Year's Eve.

It picks up an idea floated earlier in the year by the New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, who said the current wording ignored Australia’s “proud First Nations culture” and made some people feel excluded.

Advance Australia Fair was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick and first performed in 1878.

It was adopted as the country's national anthem on April 19, 1984, replacing God Save the Queen which had been in place since the time of British settlement.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke last recommended a modification of the national anthem to the Governor-General in 1984.

The historic change to Advance Australia Fair has involved consultations with state premiers, state governors who have been advised by the Governor-General as well as the Speaker of Federal Parliament and the President of the Senate.

In recent times, leaders from all sides of politics have expressed public support for changing the anthem to better reflect modern Australia and its Indigenous heritage.

Australia is a country still reckoning with its colonial past and inequality facing its First Nations peoples, with Indigenous children twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday, according to official statistics.

Earlier this year, large protests were held in several cities around the country calling for an end to deaths in custody of Indigenous people -- which number more than 400 in the last three decades.

No prosecutions have been brought despite dozens of investigations, inquests and in some cases video evidence of abuse.

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