Cathy Freeman
Cathy Freeman

Cathy Freeman’s call to change anthem

Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman has broken her silence on the national anthem debate, joining a growing list of high-profile sporting figures pushing to change the lyrics of Advance Australia Fair.

Freeman, one of the nation's most respected Indigenous voices, expressed her support for the Recognition in Anthem Project.

Founded by former Victorian Supreme Court judge Peter Vickery QC, RAP launched its proposal for an updated version of the national anthem last year, with the aim to "achieve recognition of Australian values and our First Peoples in the Australian National Anthem".

"I agree with Peter Vickery (the founder of RAP) that the national anthem doesn't acknowledge Indigenous existence in Australia," Freeman told The Australianin a statement.

RELATED: National anthem scrapped for NRL All Stars

Cathy Freeman at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Picture: Mark Stewart
Cathy Freeman at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Picture: Mark Stewart

The 47-year-old, who became Australia's first Aboriginal Commonwealth Games gold medallist when she was 16, joins the likes of NRL players Cody Walker, Greg Inglis and Latrell Mitchell in the call to change the anthem. Former prime minister, the late Bob Hawke, also endorsed Mr Vickery's alternative lyrics in 2018. He was instrumental in bringing in the current anthem when he was PM in 1984, after a referendum voted to change it from God Save The Queen.

"While I am not in a position to be an advocate for any particular new lyrics, or act as a judge between different possible versions, the words put forward by the Recognition in Anthem Project … in my opinion capture the spirit of our great country," Mr Hawke said before his death last year.

Mr Vickery said that Freeman's support "means a great deal to us".

"To have a person of that stature both acknowledging and publicly supporting us, and the need for a change, is no small thing."

RELATED: 'This song sucks': Rapper slams anthem

Mr Vickery has rewritten the second verse of the anthem, finishing the verse with ‘From everywhere on Earth we sing, Advance Australia Fair’. Picture: Supplied
Mr Vickery has rewritten the second verse of the anthem, finishing the verse with ‘From everywhere on Earth we sing, Advance Australia Fair’. Picture: Supplied

Advance Australia Fair was first performed in 1878, but has had the lyrics revised three times to adjust to significant social and political change.

The RAP's proposal calls for just one word to be changed in the first verse, and would see the second and third verses replaced entirely to include recognition of Indigenous heritage, multiculturalism and trademark Australian values such as mateship.

In the first verse, "We are young and free" became "we are one and free" when it was performed at Ormiston Gorge, west of Alice Springs, in September.

Mr Vickery has rewritten the third verse of the anthem, finishing the verse with ‘Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair’. Picture: Supplied
Mr Vickery has rewritten the third verse of the anthem, finishing the verse with ‘Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair’. Picture: Supplied

China’s takedown of new Aussie logo

China’s takedown of new Aussie logo

Australia’s new logo shows ‘confusion and anxiety’, claims Chinese state media

Couple with guns under investigation

Couple with guns under investigation

Couple who pointed guns at protesters on their lawn being investigated

Tradies’ epic 10,000 toilet paper roll find

Tradies’ epic 10,000 toilet paper roll find

Toilet paper hoarding: Tradies take rolls from hoard of 10,000 packets