• "We are young and free" or "We are one and free"? (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
The Federal Government is changing Advance Australia Fair by just one word, to be more inclusive for all Australians.
Sarah Collard, Rae Johnston

31 Dec 2020 - 10:30 PM  UPDATED 31 Dec 2020 - 11:19 PM

Australia's National Anthem is changing in a bid to be more inclusive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and better reflect the country's diverse populations.

As of 1 January 2021, the second line of Advance Australia Fair will change from "For we are young and free" to "For we are one and free."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote to Australia's Governor-General, David Hurley, to sign the final approval on the anthem's wording. 

The anthem's change was made to recognise the diversity of First Nations peoples and multicultural Australia, the Prime Minister said.

Australia's 'Ancient Story' 

In a statement issued on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 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."

"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 change comes after New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian called for the change back in November.

"We need to recognise our Aboriginal heritage, and to say we're young and free - it ignores the fact that they've inhabited the continent. I feel upset when others don't feel the anthem reflects them," said Ms Berejiklian at the time. 

The Prime Minister said the country had shown unity and strength throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it's restrictions and a recession triggered by the pandemic. 

"During the past year, we have shown once again the indomitable spirit of Australians and the united effort that has always enabled us to prevail as a nation. It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem," said the Prime Minister.

"It recognises the distance we have travelled as a nation. It recognises that our national story is drawn from more than 300 national ancestries and language groups, and we are the most successful multicultural nation on Earth."

2020: a 'difficult' year

After a difficult and trying year, the Prime Minister said it was the right time to make the National Anthem more inclusive.

"In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our National Anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation," he said. 

"Changing "young and free" to "one and free" takes nothing away, but I believe it adds much."

Advance Australia Fair was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick and first publicly performed in 1878.

The last amendment was in 1984 when the Hawke government changed the anthem to include women and girls. "Australia's sons" no longer rejoice. The line is now "Australians all, let us rejoice".

The Prime Minister said the one-word change better reflected all Australians. 

"One and free" is and must be the story of every Australian, and it's the way we truly Advance Australia Fair."

The Federal Government has been consulting with state and territory governments on the changes to the anthem. 

Calls have been steadily mounting to change the Anthem and make it more inclusive for Indigenous peoples - with support from both sides of politics.  

The new Australian National Anthem

Australians all let us rejoice,

For we are one and free;

We've golden soil and wealth for toil;

Our home is girt by sea;

Our land abounds in nature's gifts Of beauty rich and rare;

In history's page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair. 

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross We'll toil with hearts and hands;

To make this Commonwealth of ours Renowned of all the lands;

For those who've come across the seas We've boundless plains to share;

With courage let us all combine To Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.


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