Australian National Anthem

Symbolism

The Australian National Anthem is an important national symbol of Australia and should be treated with respect and dignity.

The Australian National Anthem identifies Australia at home and overseas. It unites the nation and is a public expression of joy and pride in being Australian.

The Australian National Anthem is used at official and public ceremonies, sporting and community events.

History

In 1973 a competition was held for a distinctively Australian national anthem.

The Australian National Anthem Quest was run in two stages by the Australia Council for the Arts.

The first stage for lyrics attracted more than 1400 entries. The second stage for music received 1200 entries.

A prize of $5,000 was offered for each stage.

The judges decided the entries did not meet the high standards of Australia’s traditional songs ‘Advance Australia Fair’, ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘Song of Australia’.

The Australia Council for the Arts recommended the final choice for the national anthem should be made from these three songs.

The Bureau of Statistics ran a national poll of 60 000 people. ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was favoured by 51.4 per cent of the people followed by ‘Waltzing Matilda’ (19.6 per cent).

The original composition of 'Advance Australia Fair' was written by Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878 and consisted of four verses.

In 1974 ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was adopted as the Australian National Anthem; however in 1976 ‘God Save The Queen’ was reinstated.

In 1977 the Australian Electoral Office conducted a poll for the national anthem tune in conjunction with a referendum. The tune ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was the preferred option receiving 43.6 per cent of first preference followed by ‘Waltzing Matilda (28.45 percent).

In 1981 the National Australia Day Council recommended that the Australian National Anthem consist of verses one and two of ‘Advance Australia Fair ‘with some modification.

Proclamation

In 1984 the Australian National Anthem, consisting of the tune of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ and the verses as drafted by the National Australia Day Council, was proclaimed.

Using the Australian National Anthem

The Commonwealth owns copyright in the words of the Australian National Anthem as proclaimed. It also holds copyright to particular arrangements of music of the Australian National Anthem, which are available for download on this section of the site. As copyright owner the Commonwealth makes the Australian National Anthem freely available for use within the community for non-commercial purposes.

While permission is not required to use, perform or record the Australian National Anthem for non-commercial purposes, there is a requirement to seek permission for commercial use of the Anthem. The words and music are in the public domain.

Lyrics and tune

Australian National Anthem DVD

Strathfield Girl’s High School Choir

Photo: Shirani Aththas, Australian National Maritime Museum

The words of the Australian National Anthem are available in the download section of this page below.

The music scores for orchestra, brass band, choir and piano for the Australian National Anthem are available in the download section of this page below.

An audio file of the Australian National Anthem is available in the download section of this page below.

A new audio-visual performance on DVD And An Audio CD Of The Anthem are now available.

Protocols

The Australian National Anthem is an important national symbol of Australia and should be treated with respect and dignity. All Australians are encouraged to sing the Australian National Anthem and these protocols are to assist you when singing or performing the Anthem at a ceremony or public event.

Traditionally, only the first verse of the Australian National Anthem is used but both verses can be used. The two authorised verses of the Anthem were proclaimed in 1984. The words of the Anthem are available in the download section of this page below.

When the Australian National Anthem is played at a ceremony or public event it is customary to stand.

It is at the discretion of the event organiser at what stage of the event the Anthem is played.

The tune or tempo of the Australian National Anthem should not be modified and alternative words should not be used. Music scores are available in the download section of this page below.

Any musical instrument may be incorporated into a performance of the Anthem, including Indigenous instruments such as a didgeridoo.

The Australian National Anthem should be performed in the language in which it is proclaimed, that is English. 

There is nothing to prevent individuals or organisations from performing Advance Australia Fair in a language other than English.  However, it should not be represented as a version of the Australian National Anthem and consequently the same protocols do not apply to its use. For example, it is not necessary to stand when the song is played.

Should Advance Australia Fair be performed in a language other than English along with the Australian National Anthem, the Anthem should be given precedence and played first.

When the Australian National Anthem is played with the anthem of another nation the practice is to play the anthem of the visiting nation first.

Royal Anthem

‘God Save the Queen’ was proclaimed as the Royal Anthem in 1984.

At official and ceremonial occasions, the Royal Anthem is used when Her Majesty The Queen or a member of the Royal Family is present.

When The Queen is in Australia the Royal Anthem is played at the beginning of an official engagement and the Australian National Anthem is played at the end.  On some occasions it may be appropriate to play both anthems at the beginning of the engagement.

There are no restrictions on singing or using the Royal Anthem at a community event irrespective of any member of the Royal Family being present.

When the Royal Anthem is played at a ceremony or public event it is customary to stand.

Vice-Regal salute

The Vice-Regal salute was proclaimed in 1984.  It consists of the first four bars and last four bars of the Australian National Anthem and is used in the presence of the Governor-General.

When the Vice-Regal salute is played at a ceremony or public event it is customary to stand.

Commercial use

The Commonwealth owns copyright in the words of the Australian National Anthem as proclaimed. As copyright owner, the Commonwealth has certain exclusive rights in respect of the Australian National Anthem including the right to authorise third parties to reproduce, perform or communicate the Australian National Anthem to the public.

In order to promote appropriate performance and use of the Australian National Anthem, the Commonwealth allows non-commercial use by the public without case-by-case permissions.

However, permission must be obtained in respect of use of the Australian National Anthem for commercial purposes, including advertising. Any decision to grant permission to use the Australian National Anthem for commercial purposes will be made by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in its absolute discretion and may be subject to conditions including but not limited to the following:

  • The tune or the words of the Australian National Anthem may not be modified, parodied or demeaned.
  • Alternative words cannot be substituted for the words of the Australian National Anthem.
  • The Australian National Anthem may be used in full or in part.
  • The tune may be reproduced without the words.
  • The words may be reproduced without the accompanying music.

Proposals to use the Australian National Anthem for commercial purposes should be submitted for permission to:

The Assistant Secretary
Honours, Symbols and Territories Branch
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PO Box 6500
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Australia

Tel (02) 6271 5601
Fax (02) 6271 5662

Email: nationalsymbols@pmc.gov.au

Fact sheet

This information is also available as a print fact sheet.

Note: For more information on PDF files and their use see the PDF Help page on this site.

Files for download

Note: For more information on PDF files and their use see the PDF Help page on this site.

Anthem DVD and CD

Australians can sing along to a vibrant orchestral arrangement of the Australian National Anthem with an audio-visual presentation of the Anthem.

Arranged by composer Christopher Gordon, the production features fine performances by the Australian Youth Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choir and the soloist, Corporal Simone Dew, under the inspired baton of musical director and chorusmaster Brett Weymark. There is also a band version performed by the Royal Australian Air Force Band.

This multipurpose DVD offers a variety of formats to suit every need, including four soundtrack versions—orchestral, choir, soloist or military band. Either one or two verses can be played, with or without the words of the Anthem displayed on the screen. Each version also comes with the choice of a visual presentation of the actual performance or visual images of Australia.

An audio CD is also available, featuring the same soundtrack along with performances by Julie Anthony and the Royal Military College Duntroon Band.

Both the DVD and CD are available  free of charge through the Constituents Request Program by contacting the electorate office of your Senator or Member of the House of Representatives.

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Last Updated: 16 August, 2012