‘We are one and free’: push to change anthem lyrics

 

Gladys Berejiklian has called for a change to the lyrics of the national anthem to better acknowledge the nation's proud Indigenous history.

On the eve of round two of the State of Origin, the Premier threw her support behind a push to change the anthem so it declares "we are one and free" instead of we are "young and free".

The question of a lyric change is gaining increasing attention, as multiple indigenous NRL players refuse to sing the anthem saying it does not reflect their story as First Nations people.

Ms Berejiklian told The Daily Telegraph she believed the change would "make such a difference" and called for a national discussion on the topic.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for a change to the lyrics of the national anthem to better acknowledge the nation’s proud Indigenous history. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for a change to the lyrics of the national anthem to better acknowledge the nation’s proud Indigenous history. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett

"I love our national anthem. I get goose bumps every time I hear it sung or played, but think one word change will make such a difference," Ms Berejiklian said.

She pointed out the anthem had been changed in the past.

"As a very young school child I remember learning "Australia's sons let us rejoice".

"Today we sing "Australians all let us rejoice"," she said.

"Similarly I believe singing we are "one" and free rather than "young" and free will acknowledge our proud Indigenous history.

"There should be a national discussion on this involving all Australians including Indigenous Australians."

She wants the anthem to be inclusive and has been mulling the issue for some time. Ms Berejiklian decided to speak out on the issue because she felt passionately about wanting to support indigenous communities.

It was weighing on the Premier that she felt upset for people who didn't feel included in the anthem, such as on sporting fields.

"I'm so proud of our first nations people and our Indigenous players - I don't want them to feel they aren't included. Dignity and respect goes a long way."

The Premier's own pride in her Armenian background, and knowing what it is like to feel injustice also informed her view.

"I'm incredibly proud of my heritage and know what it's like to feel injustice," she said.

"We're all Australian and we all need to come together, no matter our background and heritage, that's what makes Australia and NSW what it is."

Indigenous advocate Warren Mundine supports the lyric change to the anthem, saying it was a step to unite the country. Picture: Britta Campion
Indigenous advocate Warren Mundine supports the lyric change to the anthem, saying it was a step to unite the country. Picture: Britta Campion

She is conscious that others will have a different view - some will say it doesn't go far enough, others will say it's too radical - but felt the matter was important enough for her to take a stand on.

Indigenous advocate Warren Mundine also backs a change to the anthem, saying it was a step to unite the country.

"It's about uniting people - that's what the national anthem is about," he said.

"This is not about bowing to radical elements - it's a common sense approach to bringing people together."

Mr Mundine proposed going further and singing the second verse of the anthem in a local Aboriginal language.

 

Originally published as 'We are one and free': Gladys' push to change anthem lyrics


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