The lyrics of Australia’s national anthem will be updated from today, with a key line in ‘Advance Australia Fair‘ changing to reflect our indigenous past. Happy new year, folks! 2021 is already off to a pretty bloody good start.

The second line of the national anthem was “for we are young and free”, a controversial lyric given our nation’s long history. There have been calls for a number of years to address this, and finally, from today, the lyric has changed to “for we are one and free”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the news overnight, saying:

“During the past year we have showed once again the indomitable spirit of Australians and the united effort that has always enabled us to prevail as a nation. It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem.”

“Also, 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. In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our National Anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation. Changing ‘young and free’ to ‘one and free’ takes nothing away, but I believe it adds much.”

He continued:

“It recognises the distance we have travelled as a nation. It recognises that our national story is drawn from more than 300 national ancestries and language groups and we are the most successful multicultural nation on earth. It reaffirms our resolve as one of the world’s oldest democracies, while honouring the foundations upon which our nation has been built and the aspirations we share for the future.”

Indigenous athlete Cathy Freeman reacted joyfully to the news, saying she’d received a phone call from Scott Morrison about the updated lyrics. “What a way to start the year!!!” she said.

‘Advance Australia Fair’ became Australia’s national anthem in 1984, cut down to two verses from its original four, as a replacement for ‘God Save The Queen‘.

Image: Getty Images / James D. Morgan