Australia has changed its national anthem in a bid to reflect 60,000 years of Indigenous history


(CNN)Australia woke up to a new year on Friday -- and a slightly different national anthem.

The anthem, "Advance Australia Fair," has been tweaked to recognize the country's Indigenous history and communities, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced late Thursday, hours before 2021.


The first line, "Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free," will now end with "one and free."


"Australia as a modern nation may be relatively young, but our country's story is ancient, as are the stories of the many First Nations peoples whose stewardship we rightly acknowledge and respect," Morrison wrote in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.


"In the spirit of unity, it is only right that we also now acknowledge this and 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." The government has a history of changing the song to be more inclusive -- when Peter Dodds McCormick's original 1878 composition was declared the official national anthem in 1984,replacing "God Save the Queen," two instances of "sons" were switched with gender-neutral phrasing.


The anthem has become controversial in recent years, amid growing conversation about Indigenous representation, systemic inequality, and racial injustice. In particular, many have pushed back against the phrase "for we are young and free" -- a nod to when Britain's First Fleet landed in Australia in 1788 -- given Australia is home to one of the world's oldest known civilizations.


In 2018, a 9-year-old girl was attacked by prominent politicians, who called for her to be kicked out of school, because she refused to stand during the anthem out of respect for the Indigenous population. In 2019, athletes made headlines for refusing to sing the anthem at football matches. And in 2020, national rugby union players sang the anthem in the language of the Eora Nation -- the first time it has been sung in an Indigenous language at a major sporting event.


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