No ‘magical age’ children form their own opinions – Andrew Becroft

Drive 15/09/2018
Photo: Getty.

An Australian girl has been blasted for refusing to sing or stand during the national anthem.

Harper Nielson, a nice-year-old student at Kenmore South State School in Brisbane, remained seated during the anthem because she felt it marginalised indigenous Australians.

When she refused to do either, she was given a detention and made to sign a written apology or she would face suspension.

Right-wing politician Pauline Hanson called the girl a “brat” who needed to be thrown out of school.  

All of us are interested by our environment, by our families, by our friends.

Despite the criticism, The Courier Mail reported that Harper had also received support online with people commending her on her strength and character.

In fact, Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft reckons children, like Ms Harper, should be consulted on legislation.

“We want to encourage them to partake and engage in our community,” he told RadioLIVE.

Mr Becroft says in his view, children are “well able” to express their own political views.

When RadioLIVE’s Ryan Bridge asks at what age a child is able to express their own views, Mr Becroft calls it a moot point.

“All of us are interested by our environment, by our families, by our friends.

“I don’t think there’s any magical age where children suddenly turn out into fully formed adults with views for life.”

Ms Harper argues that the Australian anthem is disrespectful to Indigenous Australians, particularly with the line "Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free”.

"… When it says Advance Australia Fair, it means advance the white people," the 9-year-old told Nine News.

“And when it says 'we are young' it completely disregards the indigenous Australians who were here before us for 50,000 years."

The child’s father, Mark Nielson, said he was proud of how his daughter handled the protest and international backlash.

Listen to the full interview with Andrew Becroft above.

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.