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.
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."
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.