A More Inclusive National Anthem

Towards A More Inclusive National Anthem

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By Camilo Piovesan @CamiloPiovesan

In 2008 lead singer of The Seekers Judith Durham collaborated with a group of Australian identities, including First Nations identities, to write a new national anthem. Advance Australia Fair – A Lyric for Contemporary Australia was conceived by Durham with Mutti Mutti musician Kutcha Edwards, author Camilla Chance, co-founder of the Black Arm Band Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung Dr Lou Bennett, and Director of Woodford Festival in NSW Bill Hauritz AM.

Originally released as a single in 2009 with Kutcha Edwards, then re-recorded as a solo by Durham for her Australian Cities Suite album in 2015, there has been increased calls for Australia’s national anthem be changed. Renowned Indigenous Opera SingerDeborah Cheetham refused to sing the anthem at the AFL Grand Final in 2015, saying: I knew it was an honour to be asked but I simply could no longer sing the words ‘for we are young and free’. But it’s not true. Setting aside for the moment 70,000 years on from Federation and 227 years into colonisation, at the very least those words don’t reflect who we are.”

In 2015 Durham wrote an open letter to the Governor General and the public, encouraging continued debate. She wrote:

“It has been with a great sense of responsibility that I have worked hard on this objective as far as I could ……. I do so hope you like the proposed new lyric, with its potential as an inspiring unifying force if the new version could one day be approved at an official national level.”

The anthem has recently undergone one small change. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new lyric on New Years’ Day this year. The line “we are young and free” was changed to “we are one and free”. In a New Year statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald Mr Morrison explained that the notion of being “one and free” must be the story of every Australian. “Our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the First Nations Peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect,” he wrote. “In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our National Anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation.”

Durham’s fellow Seeker Bruce Woodley and the Bushwackers’ Dobe Newton wrote “I Am Australian”, and  Judith Durham has put pen to paper with her team for a more inclusive Anthem.


Australians let us stand as one, upon this sacred land

A new day dawns, we’re moving on to trust and understand.

Combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere,

To bond together for all time, advance Australia fair.

With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

Australians let us all be one, with peace and harmony.

Our precious water, soil and sun, grant life for you and me.

Our land abounds in nature’s gifts to love, respect and share,

And honouring the Dreaming, advance Australia fair.

With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

Australians let us strive as one, to work with willing hands.

Our Southern Cross will guide us on, as friends with other lands.

While we embrace tomorrow’s world with courage, truth and care,

And all our actions prove the words, advance Australia fair,

With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.

And when this special land of ours is in our children’s care,

From shore to shore forever more, advance Australia fair.

With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance . . Australia . . fair.

Published by @camilopiovesan

2NBC 90.1 FM Radio Personality. Board Member, Public Education advocate. Music, culture and politics lover - honing my journalistic skills through TAFE NSW

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