Cathy Freeman calls for Australian national anthem change

Australian Olympic hero Cathy Freeman adds her voice to calls for national anthem to changed – says the lyrics are ‘disrespectful’ and ignore country’s indigenous past

  • Indigenous people say anthem does not represent them with word ‘young’ 
  • Victorian Supreme Court judge founded a campaign to change the word
  • On Tuesday Freeman threw her support behind the project 

Olympic legend Cathy Freeman is calling for Australia’s national anthem to be changed.

The 2000 Olympics hero has joined other indigenous sporting stars who argue Advance Australia fair ignore the continent’s pre-colonial past.

The song contains the words ‘we are young and free’. Indigenous Australians object to the word young because they have been on the land for tens of thousands of years. 

Freeman (pictured last month) has joined a growing number of Australian sporting stars who believe Advance Australia fair is disrespectful to indigenous people

Campaigners say the words should be changed to ‘one and free’. 

Victorian Supreme Court judge Peter Vickery QC founded the Recognition in Anthem Project to change the words.

On Tuesday Freeman threw her support behind the project. 

‘I agree with Peter Vickery that the national anthem doesn’t acknowledge indigenous existence in Australia,’ Freeman told The Australian:

Several indigenous NRL players, including Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers, refused to sing the anthem before State of Origin last year.

The anthem was not played before last weekend’s indigenous All-Stars game between Aboriginal and Maori teams. 

Advance Australia Fair was chosen in a 1977 plebiscite by just over 8.4 million voters who chose the song over God Save the Queen, Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia. 

The song was composed by the Scottish-born Peter Dodds McCormick, first performed in 1878 and was sung in Australia as a patriotic song.

Later it was used at the start of official functions and the ABC used the melody to announce its news bulletins until 1952.

Freeman was the first Australian Indigenous person to become a Commonwealth Games champion at age 16 in 1990.

Ten years later she won gold in the 400m at the Sydney Olympics. 

Freeman after winning the 400m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000

Freeman during her semi-final in 2000

Freeman is pictured at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 where she won the 400m