'Impressed And Proud': Father Praises 9-Year-Old Daughter Who Refused To Stand For National Anthem
“I don’t think I should be made to leave the room or do something different because I have different beliefs”
A young Queensland schoolgirl whose refusal to sing the national anthem divided opinions across the country, has defended her actions and said Australia needs to be more inclusive of Indigenous people.
Nine-year-old Harper Nielson claimed on The Project that "Advance Australia Fair" was originally written to mean advancing white Australia.
"Where it says, "we are young" ... we are not young if we count the Indigenous Australians who were here for over 50,000 years before the British colonised Australia," Harper told the panel on Wednesday.
Her father, Mark Nielson, said Harper's decision came after she started questioning what was in the anthem and the family had a "series of conversations" about what it meant.
"I was really amazed that such a young person was so strong and showed such resolve to take such a peaceful and strong stance on something," Mark, an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, said.
"I was really impressed and really proud of her for wanting to follow through on her beliefs."
While her parents have defended their daughter, the year four student was reportedly given detention by her school and later told that in the future she could either leave the building during the anthem or stand without singing.
"I don't think I should be made to leave the room or something different because I have different beliefs," Harper told The Project.
Her actions have sparked a contentious debate overnight, with many online praising the nine-year-old for standing up for her beliefs.
But others have been less supportive, including Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson who labeled the schoolgirl a "brat" who needs "a good kick up the backside."
"It's disgraceful that any parent would suggest to their child that our national anthem doesn't represent the whole of our nation," Hanson said.
"We spend over $30 billion dollars each year on Aboriginal programs, health, housing, and education in order to 'Close the Gap', but it's this type of brainwashing from do-gooder parents that actually keep the divide alive and well."
The Nielson family said they have received a lot of positive feedback from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, as well as a lot of negative responses.
"We have talked through those thing with [Harper] and she understands that there's diversity of opinion out there," Mark said on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education has told Ten Eyewitness News Kenmore South State School had met with Nielsen and her family to discuss the issue.
"The school has been respectful of the student's wishes and has provided other alternatives to singing the national anthem," the statement said.
"State schools set out clear standards of behaviour that they expect from their students in their Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students."
Catch The Project from Sunday to Friday at 6.30pm on Ten and on Tenplay.