Australia alters its national anthem to honor Indigenous history

More than 140 years after it was first composed, Australia’s national anthem is being changed in a move the government says reflects a “spirit of unity.” There have been calls for Advance Australia Fair to better reflect the long history of Indigenous peoples.

Australia shared a national anthem, God Save The Queen, with Britain, its former colonial power, until 1984, when the song was replaced by Advance Australia Fair.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on New Year’s Eve announced that the second line of the anthem, Advance Australia Fair, has been changed from “For we are young and free” to “For we are one and free.”

The change took effect on Jan 1.

“It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem,” Morrison said, adding that Australia was the “most successful multicultural nation on Earth.”

“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,” Morrison said.

Some Indigenous leaders have welcomed the change that acknowledges their history that dates back at least 65,000 years. They believe the symbolism is important.