Ever since Peter Dodds McCormick, composed ‘Advance Australia fair’ and it was first performed in Sydney on Saint Andrew’s Day, 1878. there was no mention of Indigenous Australians. Feeling disregarded or erased from the pages of Australian history, Indigenous Australians have opposed the National Anthem over the past decades. Many non-Indigenous Australians are still upset or offended by such an action today. Those who concur with and support the Indigenous notion to oppose the anthem are criticized and labelled for looking beyond the level of understanding Australia’s foundation that has been imbued for 230 years . Opposing the “National Song”, is also viewed by some as disrespectful of Australian veterans, however Advance Australia Fair omits Indigenous history from start to finish of the song, the history of a people and country every Veteran in Australia fought for.
“The foundation of Australia was built off the backs of Indigenous people”
Advance Australia fair omits the history of Indigenous contribution to the foundation of Australia. The song allows Australia to ignore the Indigenous place in Australian history they so rightfully deserve. Many non-indigenous Australian brothers and sisters seem not yet willing to listen and share the whole story of Australia, one which includes the Indigenous people. The conversation on ‘Advance Australia Fair’ as the National Anthem should have been settled decades ago. The continuous denial of Indigenous people in Australian history questions the honesty in the focal view of moving forward together as “Australians”, and just how many people on the street today actually value another as an “Australian” brother or sister.
Noting just the verse first of ‘Advance Australia Fair’, there is no significant reference to Indigenous Australians for us to sing about, that is really a part of Australian history and pride:
Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free
We are not young!
We are ancient, we hold the world’s oldest civilization ,”The Original Australians” This being the subject of “history” the Original Australians have recently shown that they hold the longest length of recorded history on the earth. Their recordings not only re-write Australian history, but also “world history”.
We are not all free!
Freedom [generally, is having an ability to act or change without constraint. A thing is “free” if it can change its state easily and is not constrained in its present]
Indigenous Australians do not have that freedom, they are still living in conditions that deny them what a world view states is a violation of human rights.
Homelessness, unemployment and what some have recently described as modern day slavery, are known examples, but young Indigenous men in Australia are also faced with the ‘highest suicide rates in the world’, with mental health disorders four to seven times more common in Indigenous adults than non-Indigenous. The failure over decades to report correctly on the issue of Aboriginal Deaths in Custody is also sad and shameful.
An example not commonly noted is the pressure of mental health on the individual or group related to an Indigenous death.
- Indigenous Australians represent 3% the population.
- Indigenous people will actually attend at least (2) or more funerals a year.
(Funerals they do not attend, are because of travel or money related reasons. Most Australians can not afford to fly, drive, travel etc to many times in one year)
- Members of the Indigenous community attend as many as (10) funerals each year. (They also have commitments to family and country and some families or individuals can be very pressured mentally when not being able to attend)
- More Indigenous youth die before their parents do. Indigenous parents bury their children at much greater rates than non-indigenous Australians.
Is the fact many Australians avoid looking at all the factors that contribute to the mental health abuse and other Indigenous issues ignorance, or simply guided or pushed by politically motivated agendas?
Heart breaking that Indigenous children are “still” being removed at unacceptable rates, while politicians cherry pick or distort the facts of the matter. The effects can be devastating to any parent and families metal health when losing a child.
- An estimated 17,664 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were in out-of-home care in 2017, compared with 9,070 a decade ago. Removing children from Indigenous communities ‘a national disaster’ [ABC]
- Aboriginal children are only 5% of under 18’s in N.S.W but they make up 37% of all young people in care. Fears of ‘another stolen generation’ after New South Wales’ move on foster care.[Guardian]
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil, our home is Girt by sea
Slavery funded the building of Australia, and the wealth for toil of our golden soil was not shared with Indigenous Australians who worked under slave conditions to help build every major industry in this country alongside the first settlers.
In an article from the Sydney Morning Herald in April 2015 that headlined: “Australia needs to own up to its slave history” Hollywood movie star Ben Affleck’s participation in an ancestry study was highlighted. The results shocked Affleck, finding out his ancestors were slave owners. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed, Affleck went to extents to hide the newly found information. The article highlights the Industries in Australia worked by Indigenous Australians under slave conditions. The historical work done by Indigenous people actually helped shape the Australia we have today. Every major Industry in this country was also built and worked with Indigenous hands, Sugar, Beef, Cotton, Gold,Railways etc. The Indigenous history of these industries is still not of any main focus or view of recognized contribution in Australia’s history today.
This time last year Indigenous contribution was not listed on any major industries website fact sheet. Being someone who reads and learns about Australia’s history, i questioned Cotton Australia, on why Indigenous Australians were not listed on the Cotton History Fact Sheet when they actually helped start the cotton industry in Australia.
[Fact: When slavery was abolished in America it was Australia who picked up the cotton trade to the world, it was Indigenous workers who were used to build and work the cotton right from the start]
After their next board meeting and my point had been raised, Cotton Australia had things slightly changed on the fact sheet, leading to a slight reference of Indigenous Australia. This reference now included in the Fact Sheet is only a small gesture, but also an “action” towards recognizing Indigenous contribution in Australia’s history.
Britain boast they abolished slavery on this day in 1834. The truth is that they compensated slave owners and went on to reinvent slavery. pic.twitter.com/Br5fD3t22S— Crimes of Britain (@crimesofbrits) August 1, 2018
One great social and economical example of Indigenous contribution in our countries history, can be seen in the documentary ‘Seeing the land from an aboriginal canoe’ .One of the film makers Lucinda Horrocks highlights how Indigenous people made a significant contribution to the early economy of Victoria in the 1800’s, with canoes being used as transport to help the new European arrivals.
” There weren’t any bridges across rivers — rivers flooded and Europeans and new migrants to Victoria didn’t often know how to swim”
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare
I feel a slight Irony today singing about the rich and rare beauty of our nature’s gifts. Peter McCormick did not know the ‘Australia’ he wrote about would be today failing to remove itself from the top worst extinction rates of flora and fauna in the world in just 200 years. Including the worst mammal extinctions on the planet. The Comparison of protected area in Australia based on population and population density compared to other countries around the world is a truthful guide to what is really lacking in the protection of the beauty and rareness we all sing about.
Read more here >https://wilderness.org.au/articles/australias-biodiversity-summary
The Original Australians and culture, have protected this land for ten of thousands of years, Their sacred sites of world significance are destroyed today, many times on purpose. Some of these sites are evidence of the oldest human presence on earth.
The Original Lore, that also protects sacred sites that was given to Indigenous people long before European arrival, is challenged . Indigenous culture has being pushed aside as just myth and superstition. Most times it is mocked, ignored or simply treated like rubbish to be thrown in the bin.
Taxpayers provide over 1 Billion dollars to the @ABCaustralia yet it publishes nonsense articles like this. Sick of paying for myth and superstition being passed off as fact @TheMounterMail #bentspoonhttps://t.co/0QmA6AC0to— righttoclimb.blogspot.com.au (@righttoclimb) October 21, 2018
In history’s page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair
In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair
How can Indigenous Australians be expected to rejoice and sing a song that erases their participation and contribution to advance Australia?
“It seems asking to put a few strokes of color on what is essentially today a white canvas, is a forbidden action, and one not relevant to Australian history”
A strong statement. Honest and truthful in the view of many non-indigenous Australians who wish to share an Australian history that includes Indigenous contribution to the foundation and National song. Future Australian and truth speaker 9-year old ‘Harper Neilsen’, took a stand last month and made a statement that many Australians agree with, “The song disregards Indigenous Australians, it was originally written to advance the white people”
A Brisbane schoolgirl has generated national debate, after refusing to stand for the national anthem at her school assembly. Her father has spoken to 7 News, and says he supports her taking a stand. #7News pic.twitter.com/MXoqEU333J— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) September 12, 2018
Those who spoke out against Harper, were again those who only imbue other Australians with a certain level of understanding its foundation. Harper was labelled a ‘brat’ who needs a kick up the backside, and her parents criticized for promoting ‘rubbish’, or instilling their own political views in the mind of their child.
Harper said: “It took me quite a while before I decided not to stand for the national anthem at school. I started talking with my family about the anthem, and the words in it. We talked about what it might mean to different people, and I started to feel as if Indigenous Australians were being ignored”
Shame on her parents for using her as a political pawn.Stop the silly protest and stand and sing proudly your National Anthem. Refusing to stand disrespects our country and our veterans. Suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat #qldpol https://t.co/F0StkeBJDa— Jarrod Bleijie (@JarrodBleijieMP) September 12, 2018
You don’t respect our country our anthem GTFO— Joanna Lansdowne 🇦🇺 (@deansgaljo) September 12, 2018
The intelligence of humans today has excelled. Of course parents guide the subject matter, but there is no reason for a child at 9 years old today, to not be smarter by adaptation and a more formal way of learning then 100 years ago. Psychology today states a rise in I.Q test scores of 3 points every decade. We are mentally adapted to a far more complicated world today then in 1900. Formal schooling has led to gains in vocabulary and general information. Also today’s computers, phones, television allow access to information so much quicker. Our ability to attack a wider range of conceptual problems has improved. Young Harper is showing us this change and just how fast the children of today learn and adapt. With the criminal responsibility of children expected at 10 years old in Australia, how can Harper’s honest opinion be one that is only influenced and meaningless?
Everyone complaining that a 9yr old is too young to have a political opinion in a country that has its age of criminal responsibility set at only 10…— Pearson In The Wind (@LukeLPearson) September 12, 2018
If she's almost old enough to go to jail in Australia, then she's old enough to have opinions.
Those who take umbrage at Harper Neilson’s parents teaching her ‘such rubbish’, are they the same cultural warriors who defend private religious schools because parents have a right to choose the values their kids are taught? Shouldn’t they be congratulating the Nielsen’s?— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) September 12, 2018
A Young, Brave, Strong, Independent, Intelligent, Truth Speaker, who’s well informed & Educated 👩🏻🎓on the Historical facts of this Country. 💛 Congrats Harper Nielsen you’re already a leader. #advanceaustraliaunfair #HarperNielsen ✊🏾🖤💛❤️👣 #Freedom ✌🏾 https://t.co/SEgOlPndpM— Nova Peris OAM OLY (@NovaPeris) September 12, 2018
Oh man, @joewilliams_tew is a legend; he went to see Harper Nielsen so she’d know the Indigenous community had her back. You can read all about it in this @NITV report: https://t.co/M2VZSmyGYx#auspol pic.twitter.com/Rq5A5kBKlC— Van Badham (@vanbadham) September 13, 2018
Indigenous Veterans had as much say over a National Anthem as anyone else in Australia. They had no say over the atrocities still being committed to their people while they fought for Australia.
Opposing the National Anthem is seen by some as being disrespectful to Australian Veterans. But many would agree, to oppose the Anthem also represents Indigenous veterans with the same pride in the values of being an Australian they fought for. [The freedom of their children,and the sharing in this country’s history] Indigenous soldiers had no choice in the national song sung back decades, either did their non-Indigenous comrade’s.
God save the Queen” (King) was the national anthem of Australia from 1788 – 1974. It was not until 1984 we had ‘Advance Australia Fair’ become the official National Anthem, also seeing a few lines in the song adjusted. The major reason being that it disregarded Australian women from the song. The representation it holds for Indigenous Australian’s however, was one disregarded and avoided from the start, and also one without choice. It has since been a topic of silence, or a one-sided story heard from politicians and media. If the song was adjusted in the past to include women, what is stopping it from being adjusted today to include the Original people of Australia?
In February 1974 the Whitlam Government, through the Australian Bureau of Statistics, held a public opinion poll to determine the popularity of the three ‘unofficial’ Australian songs: Advance Australia Fair, Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia.
- In 1974 The Bureau of statistics polled just 60,000 people of an Australian population of 13 million and around half that 60,000 chose Advance Australia fair as the national anthem over Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia.
- In 1974 the Indigenous Australian population was around 140,000 .
With such a small representation in the population in 1974 it is clear that the original people had little to no effect on these decisions,” if any were handed a ballet at all”? It was only seven years earlier that Indigenous Australian were recognized as human beings.
The Frazer government reinstated ‘God save the Queen’ as the Anthem in 1976, but also was determined to find a National Anthem for Australia after a debate in 1976 about a national song to represent Australia at the Montreal Olympics. A more extensive poll for a national song was conducted in May 1977. Again, Advance Australia Fair was the preferred song, followed by “Waltzing Matilda”, “God Save the Queen” and “Song of Australia”. It was not until 1984 we had ‘Advance Australia Fair’ become the official Anthem after ‘God save the Queen’ was made the official Royal Anthem to be played when the Australian monarch or a member of the Royal Family is present by Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen.
- Over 7 million of the 8.4 million people on the electoral roll chose to vote in 1977 out of a population of 14 million.
- In 1977 the Indigenous Australian population was around 160,000.
Being within the same decade as the referendum, Indigenous Australians had no significant strength in the first or second votes for a National Anthem. With a population of only 3% today they still hold no significant strength in votes or surveys conducted that are done on the entire population. The majority of support on issues concerning Indigenous people today comes from the many other Australian brothers and sisters who want Indigenous people recognized in Australian history and also the national song.
Indigenous Veterans were not allowed to enter the military service. Many Indigenous Australians had to hide, ‘lie’ about their Indigenous heritage just to be allowed to defend their country. As few would seek through because of certain circumstances, others would pretend they were Sri-Lankan, Indian etc.
[The Defence Act of 1903 stated that all males aged from 12 to 25 would receive military training; as Aboriginal Australians were not of European descent, they were exempt from military service. (It was not until 1949 that all restrictions were lifted, enabling Indigenous Australians to join the Australian military forces]Australian War Memorial – Aboriginal service during the First World War.
Many who returned home from fighting in histories early wars abroad, came home to find their people still being murdered and children being taken. Only highlighted recently, and still not fully recognized, our Indigenous Australian Veterans held key positions and made major accomplishments in the military services of Australia. The Indigenous population today are the children of those Veterans who fought with pride to be recognized as Australians. Those Indigenous servicemen and women fought for the future of their country, children, and culture. That should also include their ancestors being mentioned in the country’s national song.
It is clear that there is still an insecurity or fear still in many present day ‘Australians’. This constant linger on recognizing the Indigenous contribution to the foundation of Australia should have deteriorated long ago.
Gough Whitlam pushed to have a song that represented Australia with “distinction” In 1973, he dedicated an entire Australia Day speech to the search for a new anthem saying that it will be a “symbolic expression of our national pride and dignity”
What highlights this symbolic expression for Original Australians? What pride and dignity should they have in a song that does not include them?
Noting why Peter McCormick wrote Advance Australia Fair, what is so wrong in Indigenous Australians today questioning and wanting the exact same thing he did?
“One night I attended a great concert in the Exhibition Building, when all the National Anthems of the world were to be sung by a large choir with band accompaniment. This was very nicely done, but I felt very aggravated that there was not one note for Australia. On the way home in a bus, I concocted the first verse of my song & when I got home I set it to music” Peter Dodds McCormick
What are Indigenous Australians asking for?
Indigenous Australians are asking our non Indigenous Australian brothers and sisters to learn more about the “contributing “facts” of Indigenous issues today. Just learning a “cherry picked fact” used as a daily news headline by politically motivated media will not help us to learn, share and move forward together.
Indigenous Australians are asking for our non-Indigenous Australian brothers and sisters to take the time and learn more about the Indigenous place in our country’s history. [Harper’s] look through the Indigenous lens tells us, no matter how much the truth confronts us, we should never just turn away, or push our history aside. History was recorded to show us the steps we took in the past, but also gives us the tools we need to walk together into the future.
“Slavery is a part of Australian history, as much as the Shearer, the convict and the Anzac” And, like Affleck, “we need to stop living in denial of our own racist past”. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Indigenous Australians are asking Australia to share the pride in what was built-in Australia together, and a country every Veteran fought for.
The Original people still hold the keys to the country, They have already explained ‘before science’ that Australia [Gondwana) is “the oldest place on Earth”[Australia is the oldest piece of the Earths crust] Examples in Original Australian oral history have been proven true today, explaining the volcanic eruptions of Australia. Every morning, we ‘Australians’ are privileged to wake up in “the land where time began” Time for all non Indigenous Australia to walk alongside the oldest continuous culture on earth, with pride and dignity.
Australian Band Busby Marou released a song last year that expresses our gratitude to all our Anzacs and goes a step further to acknowledge our Indigenous men and women who served our country. The clip pays homage to all our war veterans, both indigenous and non indigenous who fought side by side. This positive example through music is a real spark of thought to a future Australian Song that represents us all with pride and dignity, and a logical step towards our future together.
“Together we will paint this land” Busby Marou