PRight at the start of the new year, Australia has given its national anthem a new wording. With the change of a few letters, the 60,000 year history of the indigenous people of the continent has been honored since Friday. The line “We are young and free” became “We are one and free”, because, in the opinion of many Australians, the previous formulation narrowed the view of the modern history of the country, but ignored that the Aborigines, for example, long ago the arrival of white settlers lived there.
“As a modern nation, Australia may be relatively young, but our country’s history dates back to ancient times,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote in a guest article for The Age newspaper. The text change does not take away anything, “but I think it adds a lot”. The new second line of the hymn “Advance Australia Fair” was chosen by Morrison as a demonstration for his New Year’s tweet to all compatriots.
The revision of the anthem, which has been discussed for around a year, is from the point of view of many an overdue sign of appreciation for the indigenous people of the country. They have become a minority since colonization and now make up only about three percent of the 25 million people in Australia.
Prominent Aboriginal leaders hailed the anthem change on Friday. This recognizes that the indigenous people have lived in Australia for 60,000 years, said Ian Hamm, chairman of the “First Nations” foundation and descendant of the Yorta Yorta tribe, the ABC broadcaster.
Linda Burney, the first indigenous woman in the Australian Parliament, also welcomed the change, but stressed that it was not enough. “The really important point would be recognition in the constitution,” said the Labor Party politician. The Australians are expected to vote in a referendum in 2022 on whether the Aborigines should be recognized as indigenous people in the constitution.
Great Britain had chosen the continent as a penal colony for criminals banished from their homeland in 1788. With the amalgamation of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South and Western Australia and Tasmania to form the state of Australia, independence followed in 1901. With the colonization of Australia by the British, the indigenous people became a discriminated, oppressed and exploited minority. From around 1900 until the 1970s, the political doctrine of “Australia only for whites” was in force. The aborigines were viewed as a primitive, doomed race. They did not receive Australian citizenship until 1967.