Published: Fri, September 14, 2018

Australian schoolgirl's national anthem protest — Harper Nielsen

Australian schoolgirl's national anthem protest — Harper Nielsen

Harper Nielsen's parents said they were proud of her for the protest, which earned her a detention - and reportedly the threat of suspension from school.

"When it says "we are young" it completely disregards the Indigenous Australians who were here before us", she told ABC news Australia.

'The reason why I don't sing it or stand is because Advance Australia Fair means advance White Australia, ' she told The Courier-Mail. Refusing to stand disrespects our country and our veterans.

Harper Nielsen was given detention for not joining classmates in a rendition of "Advance Australia Fair", a song she says ignores the nation's indigenous people.

On Wednesday, Nielsen's father, Mark, told ABC radio: "She's shown incredible bravery in wanting to stick to what she believes in and to make a stance for what she believes is right".

The incident and remarks drew criticism from politicians, including former prime minister Tony Abbott, who suggested it signals "good manners" to stand while the anthem plays.

"She's actually asking for people to be respectful and inclusive", he said.

"This is not someone just saying they don't want to go to math class".

Brisbane Aboriginal community elder Sam Watson said Harper's parents should be congratulated.


Of the punishment, the young girl said, "I felt like they were trying to take my power away and that made me feel a bit upset because everything that I fight for is for equality and for equal power for everyone".

Mr Watson praised the student, calling her "wise and courageous" for rightfully pointing out the nation is not young and free.

I'm proud of the Australian flag and the national anthem as everyone should be and so was Cathy Freeman, ' she said. Using her astonishingly verbose vocabulary for a nine-year-old, Harper told Channel Nine that "it's basically institutionalised racism".

"I'm not just someone who obliges by the rules of older people just because they're older", the nine-year-old said during one of many interviews she gave on Wednesday. "It's about who we are as a nation".

"This is divisive and I don't know what the other kids around her are thinking, but where is it coming from?"

The only problem is, after hearing the kid speak, I'm not convinced Hanson even has a chance.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Queensland's Department of Education said it had met with the student and family involved to discuss the issue.

Moving forward, school officials are now giving Harper two options, the BBC reported Tuesday, citing Queensland state education officials: Either she stands in the hallway outside the classroom during the singing of the anthem, or she can decline to sing the song but stand out of respect.

"We were surprised behavior such as a passive nonparticipation might be considered in the same realm as something like bringing a knife to school or being violent toward others", Miller said.

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