A line in Australia’s national anthem was officially changed on Friday in a move that the nation’s leaders said was aimed at better recognizing the country’s indigenous people.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the second line of the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, would be changed from “Because we are young and free” to “Because we are one and free”.
“Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, but our country’s history is old, as are the stories of the peoples of the many first nations whose administration we rightly acknowledge and respect,” Morrison wrote in The Age newspaper on New Year’s Eve.
“Changing ‘young and free’ to ‘one and free’ takes nothing away, but I think it adds a lot.”
The move had previously been moved to better recognize domestic Australian history, which stretches back tens of thousands of years, but the Conservative leader had not flagged the change until he announced it late on Thursday night.
Australia is a country that still reckons with its colonial past and inequality before its first nations, with domestic children twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday, according to official statistics.
Earlier this year, large-scale protests were held in several cities around the country demanding a halt to deaths in custody of indigenous peoples – who have more than 400 in the last three decades.
No charges have been filed despite dozens of investigations, inquiries and in some cases video evidence of abuse.