Scott Morrison changes Australia's national anthem
Scott Morrison changes Australia's national anthem

Anthem change ‘cosmetic’ and ‘tokenistic’

THE change to a single word in the national anthem is "cosmetic" and does not go far enough towards reconciliation, according to Indigenous groups on the Gold Coast.

But, some have called changing "young" to "one" an initial step.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced the anthem's second line would change from "young and free" to "one and free".

The change is to recognise Indigenous people have inhabited Australia for thousands of years.

Yugambeh man John Graham said: "It makes a difference, it is more inclusive and that's one of those things … it's a start."

But he also described the change as "a little bit cosmetic".

Other important steps needed to be taken, he said.

"The one word doesn't make a big difference but something along the lines of the Uluru Statement could," he said.

The Uluru Statement was issued in May 2017 after national Indigenous leaders spent two years calling from structural reform, including in the constitution.

It also means a new relationship between First Nations and the Australian nation.

Mr Graham said he was more supportive of the Federal Government having conversations with Indigenous leaders and working towards enacting the changes proposed in the Uluru Statement.

"It involves conversations around everyone … that is something more pragmatic," he said.


Mr Graham said conversations should also involve establishment of a treaty.

Kombumerri woman Emerald Brewer said she believed change was more inclusive but also "tokenistic".

"Effectively what it does is change one word," she said. "They haven't done a lot around reconciliation."

Emerald Brewer. Picture: Supplied
Emerald Brewer. Picture: Supplied

She wanted to see part of the anthem sung in an Indigenous language.

Ms Brewer said due to a large number of Indigenous languages, lines could be sung in languages from different parts of the nation.

Ms Brewer's children sing with the Yugambeh Youth Choir which already does a Yugambeh language version of the anthem.

Gold Coast City councillor Bob La Castra said debate about the national anthem would "rage on" regardless of the change and there would be many opinions.

"For me, every line in the song I Am Australian says everything about what it is to be Australian," he said.

"The anthem is joyous and uplifting. The lyrics and music bring tears to my eyes. I Am Australian should be our national anthem."

Surfers Paradise business identity Billy James said the change was "cosmetic" but "if it helps, great".

"Little things like that sometimes have a big knock on effect," he said.

"Most people will be indifferent but I think it's a great step forward."

Longtime Surfers Paradise local,Nightclub owner and former councillor Billy James. Picture Glenn Hampson
Longtime Surfers Paradise local,Nightclub owner and former councillor Billy James. Picture Glenn Hampson

Councillor Glenn Tozer said: "While it's probably a step in the right direction to adjust the words we use in our anthem, the issues facing our nations acknowledgment of First Nations people will need a great deal more effort to address if we are serious about long-term reconciliation and respect."

He encouraged all Gold Coasters to read the Uluru Statement to help reshape how "we move forward with Indigenous Australians".

"When we know better, we can do better."

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate declined to comment.





Originally published as Anthem change 'cosmetic' and 'tokenistic'

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