Last week, nine-year-old Harper Nielsen put the topic of the national anthem firmly on the agenda after she objected to standing and singing Advance Australia Fair at school on the grounds it ignores the country’s indigenous people.
Miss Nielsen’s decision sparked a bitter debate in the media, with Alan Jones and Mark Latham, in particular, firing barbs at the year-four student for being a ‘brat’ and saying she should be sent to a special school for students with behavioural problems.
The results of the YourLifeChoices Friday Flash Poll suggest that many YLC members agree that children should be forced to stand for the national anthem. Of the 2250 members who responded to the survey, 63 per cent agreed with forcing children to stand for the anthem, while 31 per cent agreed with the ‘young and free’ lyrics and supported the right for children to decide whether to stand or not for the anthem.
YLC members were split when it came to the topic of changing the anthem. Only 52 per cent of survey respondents thought the anthem shouldn’t change, with 43 per cent seeking a change and five per cent undecided.
However, when asked to vote for an appropriate national anthem, I Am Australian by The Seekers beat out Advance Australia Fair (45 per cent to 40 per cent), suggesting the current national anthem doesn’t enjoy universal support.
Of the other suggestions, I Still Call Australia Home managed five per cent support ahead of Australia Song (four per cent) and Waltzing Matilda (three per cent).
The following are the opinions of YourLifeChoices members and not necessarily those of the writer or publisher. Some have been edited for style and grammar purposes.
“If children have been taught the history of this country, they are quite capable of making up their own minds and I applaud this young lady. She is the kind of thinking, acting citizen this country so badly needs. On the good side, this may just spark the change we need to recognise the full diversity of this wonderful country. On the bad side, this child and her family will now be socially ostracised by many and have to put up with the real ugliness of trolls.” – Maggie
“I believe in breaking stupid and insulting rules. Imagine what it’s like for a first Australian to have to sing ‘For we are young and free’? It’d be enough to make me gag on those silly and untrue words. It’s like reinforcing the big lie of Terra Nullius, saying there were no people or history on this continent before white settlement/takeover. Saying that Aboriginal people are mere animals, part of the flora and fauna. This was said at the time because it meant the new colony wasn’t obliged to make a formal treaty, because there were no people here to make a treaty with.” – Hoohoo
“No, we should not change our national anthem.” – Joy Anne
“All national anthems are a bit silly. Pompous, ridiculously over patriotic to the point where the words are almost meaningless. Waltzing Matilda is best. Great singalong chorus, passable storyline, and totally confusing to everyone in the world!” – Crowcrag
“The anthem is deficient and boring – it also ignores migrants from all parts of the world, not just indigenous Aussies, and the country is not Fair – that’s a separate issue. So, yes, we should have a modified national anthem – none of the choices presented seem good, but one can take parts out of these options and maybe make a new one.” – George
“Anything is better than that lullaby we have now.” – Old Geezer
“Children should learn the anthem out of respect for our country. Why do we need to change everything?” – KB
“Why can’t everyone leave everything alone? Why do we need to change the flag, the anthem, Australia was the lucky country ONCE! Leave it alone!!!” – Kosmo
“I originally voted for Waltzing Matilda as at least it was a fun song, not deadly boring like what we got. Today I would vote for I Am Australian because it has a nice sound and a nice modern message.” – Dave R
“I Am Australian is a great song – but not a national anthem. How many verses would we have to sing? Each verse is about something different – a wonderful song but I am not learning and standing for about five verses! Waltzing Matilda is by far the best song melodically and harmonically – but would need a new set of words. And let’s be real, the three songs that really ‘get’ to you when you are overseas are Waltzing Matilda, I Am Australian, and I Still Call Australia Home. You only have to see Aussies overseas or mention that you are Aussie… and out comes Waltzing Matilda!” – Almost Midnight
“For me, the main problem with ‘Advance Australia Fair’ is that’s a boring, funereal dirge. A secondary problem is that when it was written in the late 19th century Advance Australia Fair was intended to mean Advance Australia White – as in light-skinned, fair-skinned.” – Bob
“I stay with Advance Australia Fair. Actually didn’t realise that it was written by a man by the name of McCormick which was my mother’s maiden name.” – Shirboy
“I applaud this young lady for standing up for her beliefs. I ABSOLUTELY HATED singing God Save the Queen, and don’t think much of “Advance Australia Fair” either. Bring on I Am Australian! It brings me to tears and is a worthy replacement!!!” – Simplelife