Advance australia what? – A poem by Burraga Gutya (Ken Canning)

Who is going to sing?
Come let us all rejoice
for we are young and free —
To the young Mother
sitting in red dust
besides a dry river
in 4th world conditions
in a nation
appalled by the 3rd world.
Who will tell her,
advance australia fair
as her dying child
suckles from
a malnourished breast.
Is this fair?
The death toll increases.
Will this child
be remembered
as a victim of war
by a nation obsessed
with remembering the dead!!
At the going down of the sun
we will remember them.
lest we forget.
How many more
will die
before we stand as one
and demand —–
Our babies be given
a chance to live.
She will mourn alone.
Another death
of a child
whose only crime
was to be born
in a country
refusing to acknowledge
he or she ever existed.
aussie aussie aussie

 – Burraga Gutya (Ken Canning)


Burraga Gutya (Ken Canning) is a Murri activist, writer and poet, whose people are from the Kunja Clan of the Bidjara Nation in south west Queensland, Australia. Canning now lives and teaches in Sydney. Ken works with the Rainbow Lodge program where he supports Aboriginal men leaving custody.

‘Advance australia what?’ was first published in Yimbama, the second collection of poetry by Burraga Gutya. Yimbama is available from





Comments are closed.