Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Nine-year-old girl’s anthem protest sparks debate in Australia

Nine-year-old girl’s anthem protest sparks debate in Australia

"(But) when it says Advance Australia Fair, it means advance the white people", Nielsen told the local station.

Harper Nielsen, a student at Kenmore South State School in Brisbane, said that she chose to protest against the national anthem, saying it was not inclusive of indigenous Australians, reported on Wednesday.

Asked how she felt about the option given to her by the school to leave the room when the anthem was played, Harper said "I don't think I should be made to leave the room or do something different because I have different beliefs".

When she refused to do either, the school handed the Year 4 student a lunchtime detention for "blatant disrespect".

A young QLD schoolgirl has been given detention after she refused to either stand or excuse herself during the national anthem.


"She's shown incredible bravery in wanting to stick to what she believes in and make a stance for something she believes right and I couldn't be more proud of her for wanting to do this", he said.

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

But the stance has outraged conservative commentators and politicians including Pauline Hanson, who posted a video on Facebook calling for Harper to be kicked out of school.

"We're talking about a child who has no idea about history -what we should do and what we need to do to pull everyone together, regardless of their cultural backgrounds - we are all Australians", she said.

"If it's good enough for Cathy Freeman, Jonathan Thurston, and Warren Mundine to stand for the National anthem, it should be good enough for this nine-year-old brat".

The One Nation senator branded Harper a "brat" who deserved to be kicked out of school.

"I do applaud her for considering the words of the national anthem, a lot of people just rattle it off and don't consider the meaning", 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".

"I'm angry about this".

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott also weighed in, telling Sydney radio station 2GB that Harper should "follow the rules", adding that it is "a sign of good manners and courtesy to stand for the national anthem".

In Queensland, shadow education minister Jarrod Bleijie had the same name for Harper, accusing her parents of using her as a "political pawn".

On Wednesday evening, Nielsen appeared on The Project with her dad Mark to talk about her decision.

A spokesperson for the Queensland state education department said the school had offered Harper the choice of remaining outside the hall during the anthem or simply not singing.

Harper's father Mark Nielsen said they had met with the school's principal but they remained at loggerheads.

The department denied earlier reports that Harper faced suspension or expulsion for her protest.

"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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