A year four schoolgirl has been threatened with suspension after she refused to join in with or stand for the national anthem, claiming ‘Advance Australia Fair’ discriminates against indigenous Australians.
The schoolgirl, who has allegedly also been made to sign written apologies and asked to leave the building during assembly, told the newspaper that she refused to stand for the anthem because it ignores native Australians who resided in Australia long before the country was colonised.
“The reason why I don’t sing it or stand is because Advance Australia Fair means advance White Australia,” she said. “When it says we are young it completely ignores the fact that indigenous culture was here for over 50,000 thousand years before colonisation.”
Nielsen made her thoughts known at the start of the school year when she refused to get out of her seat for, or sing along with, the anthem, and the Courier Mail reports that her parents are now at loggerheads with the school over the punishment handed to their daughter.
Staff at the school are said to have demanded that she stand or asked her to leave the building, however Harper has refused to do either and said she feels “the best option” would be for her to remain in the assembly hall, but be allowed to sit.
According to reports, the year four student has been given detention during lunch and was also asked to sign a written apology for “blatant disrespect” after refusing to follow teachers’ instructions, before being threatened with suspension if she continued the behaviour.
She added: “I just imagine what it would feel like for all of your friends to be singing the anthem if you were an indigenous person, that makes me determined to keep going.”
A Department of Education spokeswoman told the Courier Mail that Kenmore South State School had been respectful of the student’s wishes and has provided other alternatives to singing the national anthem.
While her father, Mark Nielsen, said he and Harper’s mum Yvette Miller are “proud” of their “incredibly brave” daughter for standing up for something she believes in.