After an incredibly disappointing decision from the government to refuse to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags inside the Senate as it “wasn’t appropriate”, here is some encouraging news instead.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is calling for change on the lyrics of Australia’s national anthem Advance Australia Fair to finally recognise the country’s Indigenous history.
It would be a minor amendment with a significant effect, changing “We are young and free” to “We are one and free”.
As Indigenous people are believed to have inhabited Australia for about 60,000 years, our country is anything but young.
Berejiklian said the one-word change “would make such a difference”.
"Young is just not the truth of our nation"
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) November 10, 2020
This discussion is of particular importance today, the morning of the State of Origin, as an increasing number of Indigenous NRL players are rejecting their requirement to sing the National Anthem before games as it doesn’t encompass their history.
“I’m so proud of our first nations people and our Indigenous players – I don’t want them to feel they aren’t included,” Berejiklian said. “Dignity and respect goes a long way.”
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine also declared his support to the lyric change.
“It’s about uniting people – that’s what the national anthem is about,” he told Daily Telegraph.
It’s obviously just one step in a long journey to equality for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people, but it’s an important one in the right direction.
“There should be a national discussion on this involving all Australians including Indigenous Australians,” Berejiklian said.
It’s not the first time the lyrics of Advance Australia Fair have been amended. The anthems opening line was changed from “Australia’s sons let us rejoice” to “Australians all let us rejoice” in 1984.
If the proposed lyric change does happen, it’s small step, but one in the right direction.