Australia changes national anthem to honor Indigenous people

Australia has changed one word in its national anthem to become more inclusive and recognize and reflect the island nation’s Indigenous history and communities.

The second line in the anthem, “Advance Australia Fair,” has been changed from “For we are young and free” to “For we are one and free.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement of this change on New Year’s Eve.

“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 an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we also now acknowledge this and 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.”

The anthem Advance Australia Fair was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878 and was adopted as the national anthem recently in 1984.

Australia has struggled for many years to reconcile with Aborigines, who arrived on the continent close to 50,000 years before British colonists. Critics of the anthem have long argued that the words ‘young and free’ eliminates the long history of the indigenous population and that the words imply that Australia’s history starts only with colonization.

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