'I was overwhelmed with pride': Olivia Fox reflects on her historic rendition of the national anthem

Olivia Fox, 17, has shared her pride at singing Australia's national anthem in both the Eora and English languages at a Wallabies Test match on Saturday.

Newtown Performing Arts School student Olivia Fox, a proud Wiradjuri woman, led the historic rendition of the anthem.

Newtown Performing Arts School student Olivia Fox, a proud Wiradjuri woman, led the historic rendition of the anthem. Source: SBS News

Teenager Olivia Fox felt “incredible” and was “overwhelmed with pride” as she sang the national anthem in the Eora language at a Wallabies game. 

Ms Fox, a proud Wiradjuri woman and student at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, led the rendition of Advance Australia Fair at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night, singing it in the First Nations language and in English.

Wallabies players were seen singing in Eora with the 17-year-old, in a first for an international sporting event in Australia.

“The feeling was incredible, you know, walking out onto the field I was just so honoured to be there in the first place,” Ms Fox told SBS News.

“As soon as I started to sing the anthem, I was overwhelmed with pride.

"It's an amazing feeling, just to sing it."

Many rugby fans shared their excitement over the rendition on social media, with several saying they wanted to hear it more often.

“Best moment in rugby in (my) living memory,” one Twitter user said. “I hope this becomes the norm for all sports teams in Aust,” said another.

But others said that changing the language didn’t change their problems with the song, with the anthem a source of contention due to its failure to recognise the culture and history of First Nations people.

In a since-deleted Instagram post, NRL star Latrell Mitchell reportedly wrote: “When will people understand that changing it to language doesn’t change the meaning!”

"Be proud but understand what you're being proud of."

Mitchell and other Indigenous NRL players, including Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers previously boycotted singing the anthem throughout the 2019 State of Origin series.

'I'm so proud'

Ms Fox said everyone would have their own thoughts and opinions but she saw Saturday’s anthem as “a great step in the right direction”.

She said it meant a lot for her to be able to sing in the Eora language for thousands of people.

“I want it to be heard ... I’m so proud to be singing this language, and the whole Indigenous community, I could feel them with me,” she said.

“I didn’t think it would have such a big impact but honestly, I’m really proud of just being Indigenous and being able to use my voice,” she later said.

Olivia Fox sings Australia's national anthem in the Eora language during the Tri Nations rugby match between Australia and Argentina.
Source: AAP

Shadow minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Linda Burney, said the rendition “was respectful, it was stunning, it was fabulous”.

“What really impressed me is that the Wallabies had learnt the song in Eora and sang along in Eora. That was really very special, and very touching,” Ms Burney told SBS News.

“I'm feeling quite emotional even talking about it.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper also said the team was proud to be involved.

"We were practising (the Eora version) during the week and our guys were - there was never a question - proud to have the opportunity to do it," Hooper said.

"I think it sounded pretty good, too."

Among those to react on Twitter, Paralympian Richard Colman said he always wanted the anthem performed that way.

Cricketer and television presenter Trent Copeland said he “wanted to live in an Australian where THIS is our every day”, while netballer Kimberlee Green said it was the best Australian sporting moment she had ever seen.

Published 6 December 2020 at 12:29pm, updated 6 December 2020 at 5:29pm
By Jodie Stephens