A nine-year-old girl who refused to stand for the national anthem during assembly has been given detention.

Kenmore South State School student, Harper Nielsen, was given a lunch time detention on Friday for peacefully protesting against the song she said is “wrong”. She has also been threatened with suspension, but the young girl is not backing down.

“When it says ‘we are young’ it completely disregards the Indigenous Australians who were here before us for over 50,000 years,” she said.

“When it was originally written, Advance Australia Fair meant advance the white people of Australia.”

Harper told ABC Brisbane she felt annoyed the school was punishing her for expressing her beliefs.

“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,” Harper said.

Her father Mark Nielsen, who is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, said he completely supported his daughter and her views.

“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.

In a statement, Kenmore South State School said it had met with the student and family involved 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.”

The school said if any parents have concerns, they are encouraged to contact the principal.

Comments on the TODAY Facebook page discussion were quite divided. Many people said good on her, while others said she obviously doesn’t respect Australia at all.

– “We are “young and free”. She is entitled to express her views in a non violent manner. No law says you have to stand.”

– ” Good. She shouldn’t have to be told by people here to blindly support the national anthem. It’s her free choice and we’re a free country.”

– “What a smart little girl. These are the sort of kids that will do great things in life. ”

– “She’s a kid and wouldnt comprehend that..so the family is teaching her defiance and disrespect..shes going to go far in life…not”

– “I don’t care what people think if they don’t stand up for the Australian Anthem they don’t respect the country.”

– “So she can barely write her own name, still believes in the tooth fairy but she fully understands the words to the national anthem?”

– “Nine years old and she hasn’t understood the first line of the song “Australians ALL…” She’s being coached.”

– “For once I agree with Karl. Her parents enrolled her in a school where part of their curriculum is the National Anthem. If they did not want her to participate they should have choose another school to enrol her in.”

Do you think the young girl is brave for standing up for what she believes?

Share your comments below

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  • Think this young girl has been coached by her parents – and don’t think she’ll get fart in life if she challenges everything g and has no national pride.


  • To me, singing the anthem is all about rejoicing because we are so lucky to live in this beautiful country. Same as Australia Day, can’t we all be happy to just be here, the best place in the world. Let’s leave the past exactly where it is, behind us. Yes, learn from it, don’t forget it, make sure history doesn’t repeat. But do we have to change everything for the minority who can’t move on?!


  • Until I read the whole article I thought maybe her thought was that not all people are young.


  • I watched an interview about this and it was quite an interesting interview.


  • She is very clear on her reasoning and whilst I don’t agree with her stance I do believe that she shouldn’t be disciplined for it.


  • I think – RESPECT the school (and your country) and sing the Anthem. Don’t like it, leave and attend school elsewhere. Far out, in this day of age, everyone wants to argue about everything, and change everything, that always was.


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