A more inclusive National Anthem

  • 19 January 2021

The Australian National Anthem is a song we will be hearing and singing a lot more in the coming days, as local communities around the country come together to reflect, respect and celebrate our national identity on Australia Day.

This year however it will be a slightly different version as Advance Australia Fair has been tweaked to recognise the country’s Indigenous history and communities. The first line, “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free,” will now end with “one and free.” in a move recommended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ensure the song honours Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who as the traditional custodians have been here for over 60,000 years.

Governor General David Hurley signed off on the changes to Advance Australia Fair’s lyrics which came into effect on Friday, January 1.

“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,” Prime Minister 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.”

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney also voiced their support. “The national anthem should join us all together and ‘young’ is just not the truth,” said Ms Burney, who was the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives.

In late 2020, it was reported in the media that WA Federal MP Ben Morton, who has responsibility for the Australia Day Council as part of his role as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, said that the Government welcomed the respectful debate around the lyrics.

“It is not the first time in its 143-year history that the song, written by Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878 has changed.” said Morgen Lewis, CEO Auspire – Australia Day Council WA. “In 1981 the National Australia Day Council recommended some modification to the first line changing the words Australia’s sons to Australians all making it more inclusive.”

Auspire is proud to be continuously delivering events and initiatives that work towards creating a more inclusive Australia and supports these changes in the spirit of unity and to recognise our ancient history.

A copy of the updated anthem and a brief history is available to download from our website.


Back to news