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National anthem Advance Australia Fair changed to reflect Indigenous history

National anthem Advance Australia Fair changed to reflect Indigenous history

Over 140 years after it was originally composed and performed, Advance Australia Fair is being updated once again in a move the Prime Minister says reflects a "spirit of unity".

On January 1, the second line of the national anthem was changed to "For we are one and free" from "For we are young and free".

governor-General David Hurley has agreed to the Commonwealth's recommendation to change the anthem for the first time since 1984.

Scott Morrison made a statement, saying the change was made to represent all Australians.

"During the past year we have showed once again the indomitable spirit of Australians and the united effort that has always enabled us to prevail as a nation," he said.

"It is time to ensure this great unity is reflected more fully in our national anthem.

"Also, 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.

"In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we ensure our national anthem reflects this truth and shared appreciation.

"Changing 'young and free' to 'one and free' takes nothing away, but I believe it adds much."

Composer Deborah Cheetham is a Yorta Yorta woman and says the change is long overdue.

"It's an important acknowledgement. The word young has underestimated the lives that have lived on this continent for some millennia," the soprano and educator said.

First Nations Foundation chairman and Yorta Yorta man Ian Hamm also welcomed the change, which was suggested last year by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

"In terms of culture, society, and population, we go back 60,000 years. We're very definitely not young," he said.

"We should regard ourselves as a nation that's bonded, as opposed to being divided, and we should recognise our Indigenous history as part of our Australian history.

"'One and free' looks for what brings us together. It's actually a focal point for that discussion about who we are as a country.

"I think it's a really good change."

But Labor Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney said more needed to be done.

"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," she said.

Advance Australia Fair was composed by Peter Dodds McCormick and first performed in 1878.