Social Issues

Australia changes national anthem to recognize indigenous people

Sydney, Australia, Jan 1 (efe-epa).- Australia has amended its national anthem to acknowledge that its indigenous people, who have been victims of discrimination and dispossessed of their traditional lands by European settlers, are among the oldest civilizations in the world.

The change in “Advance Australia Fair” to remove reference to the country being “young and free” took effect on Friday.

“For we are young and free” will now change to “for we are one and free.”

“While Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, our country’s story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

The change was first proposed in 2017 by an Australian judge when he considered that the word “youth” offended a people who have been discriminated against and dispossessed of their lands since British captain James Cook declared the territory “Terra nullius” (no man’s land) in 1770.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, who number about 825,000 of Australia’s 25 million population, were dispossessed of their lands by European settlers in the 18th and 19th centuries.

They have been living on the continent for more than 60,000 years.

The amendment, the first since 1984 when Australia replaced its anthem “God Save the Queen” with the current anthem, is ostensibly the first step towards recognizing and acknowledging the original inhabitants of the land.

But Labor MP Linda Burney, a Wiradjuri woman, insisted that more needed to be done to recognize the Aborigines

“It flies in the face, of course, of the government saying that they want to work with Aboriginal people, but the real issue is a constitutionally enshrined voice,” the opposition politician of aboriginal origin told the Australian network ABC.

The Australian constitution, which dates back to 1901, does not mention or recognize Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders as the first inhabitants of the country, outraging the minority indigenous people.

In May 2017, some 300 representatives of the aboriginals and islanders of the Torres Strait signed the so-called “Declaration of Uluru.”

The declaration asks Australians to change the constitution to allow indigenous people a voice in the laws and policies that are made about them.

One of the deepest wounds of settler colonialism is Australia’s “Stolen Generations” of Aborigines, referring to indigenous children snatched from their families under old assimilation policies.

The practice affected some 100,000 minor Aborigines between 1910 and 1970. EFE-EPA

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