Culture

How Do We Feel About The New National Anthem?

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Australia’s national anthem has been changed to try and better recognise its First Nations Peoples, and there have been real mixed reactions to it.

Some people have welcomed the change, but others think the new lyrics totally miss the mark of actual inclusion.

It’s opened up conversations on whether we should completely change the national anthem instead of literally just one word, or whether we should even have one at all?

What Just Happened To The National Anthem?

To celebrate the end to a shitty year, Scott Morrison announced on New Year’s Eve that he would be changing one word in Advance Australia Fair.

Instead of being “young and free” we are now apparently “one and free”, which according to ScoMo “takes away nothing… but adds much”.

Some people have said they don’t really see the point of changing one word of a song that they barely sing or know the words too.

But for some First Nations Peoples, scrapping the word young was really significant, because it never accounted for the lives of Indigenous people who have lived on this continent for 120,000 years.

Others aren’t really sold and actually just want an entirely new anthem, which is kind of a fair argument. After all Advance Australia Fair has been around for almost 150 years.

History Of The National Anthem

The original piece was composed by a Scottish-born settler called Peter Dodds McCormick in 1978. It was based on colonialism with no mention of Australia’s First Nation Peoples, and actually really male-dominated, only referring to Australia’s sons.

There was a lot more about Britain ruling the waves and land.

Then in 1984, with a few tweaks the song became our official National Anthem, replacing ‘God Save the Queen’.

But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were still never acknowledged until this recent change.

Why People Want It Changed

Joe Williams: “The change was meant to be more inclusive of First Nations people, but nowhere that I’ve read or heard reports has suggested that somebody sat down with First nations people to discuss it.”

JW: “If it’s going to be inclusive of a certain people why on earth wouldn’t you sit down and include those people in those conversations. It just speaks to the similar rhetoric that we’ve heard for 230 plus years of being told what to do and what’s good for you.”

That’s Joe Williams, a proud Wiradjuri/ Wolgalu man.

He told me that if the word “one” was going to hold any significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, he wanted the government to actually start treating everybody as one and addressing our country’s disparities.

JW: “That comes with genuine changes to systematic issues that we face as all people; addressing poverty, addressing homelessness, addressing incarceration rates. If it takes changing an outdated song to have those conversations then I think that’s a positive to have the conversation. But having a song or not having a song probably doesn’t change who I am.”

An Unofficial National Anthem

It’s hard to have one song that represents all people, because we are such a diverse country.

There’s actually already an unofficial alternative anthem that acknowledges the Dreaming while also celebrating the new and many cultures in our country.

It was written by a group of Australian musicians, including Kutcha Edwards, who performs it in this YouTube video which was posted back in 2017.

And since the recent anthem change, this song has gained heaps of support online and is really being embraced by both Indigenous and non-indigenous people.

The Takeaway

The government have tried to fix our really outdated national anthem.

But changing one word to signify we are one, isn’t going to heal the trauma First Nations Peoples have suffered for generations, nor is it going to mend the cultural divide that still persists in Australia.