I Am Australian

"I Am Australian" (or "We Are Australian") is a popular Australian song written in 1987 by Bruce Woodley of The Seekers and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers. Its lyrics are filled with many historic and cultural references, such as to the "digger", Albert Namatjira and Ned Kelly, among others. Its popularity has allowed it to join the ranks of other patriotic songs considered as alternatives to the Australian national anthem, "Advance Australia Fair". It is commonly taught in primary schools.[1]

Over the years since the song's release, there have been calls for it to become Australia's national anthem, notably in 2011 by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.[2]


"I Am Australian" is popular at celebrations such as Australia Day and New Year's Day, as it celebrates the diversity of Australian society.

"I Am Australian" is often sung by Australian fans at numerous sporting events. It was sung by The Seekers at the 1994 AFL Grand Final.[3]

It was often played at citizenship ceremonies from 2008 until 2012 when the Copyright Tribunal ruled that this was an infringement and ordered the Federal Government to pay Bruce Woodley $149,743.34 in compensation.[4]

It was one of the final numbers performed at the 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo hosted at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. It was sung primarily by Australian military personnel with backing vocals and musical accompaniment by the combined acts of the Tattoo.

Spectators seated in the public gallery of the Australian House of Representatives erupted into applause and sang part of "I am Australian" when Parliament voted on and legalised same sex marriage on 7 December 2017.[5]


Salvation Army

In 1996 the Salvation Army used the song in TV advertisements for its Red Shield Appeal.


In October 2003, in conjunction with the sponsorship of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, Australian telecommunications giant Telstra launched a new campaign centered on the song remixed and performed by Rai Thistlethwayte. The campaign was produced by advertising company Young and Rubicam.[6][7][8]

In aid of the Farmhand Foundation's Drought Relief Appeal, Telstra released a CD of the Rai Thistlethwayte remix that sold for $6. A total of $100,000 was raised from the profits ($4.05 per CD) generated from the sale of the CD. The actual published copy of the CD credits "Performed by: Rai Thistlewayte & other artists" and "Music re-arranged by: Rai Thistlewayte".

In 2008, Telstra used a different version of the song recorded by the Sydney band, Botanics, for advertising their mobile coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.


In 2009 two additional verses were added to show remembrance during the official National Day of Mourning for the victims of the Black Saturday bushfires.[9] Woodley performed the song along with his daughter Clare and Kinglake fire survivors Merelyn and David Carter during the memorial service at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on 22 February.[10][11]

Cover versions


"I Am Australian"
Single by Judith Durham, Russell Hitchcock & Mandawuy Yunupingu
from the album Always There
ReleasedJanuary 1997
FormatCD Single
LabelEMI Australia
Songwriter(s)Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton

"I Am Australian" was released in 1997 by trio Judith Durham (of The Seekers), Russell Hitchcock (from Air Supply) and Yothu Yindi's Mandawuy Yunupingu. EMI Australia released the single and it reached number 17 on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart.[12]

Chart performance

Chart (1997) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 17


"I Am Australian"
Single by Dami Im, Jessica Mauboy, Justice Crew, Nathaniel Willemse, Samantha Jade and Taylor Henderson featuring John Foreman
Released24 January 2014 (2014-01-24)
FormatDigital download
RecordedJanuary 2014
Songwriter(s)Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton
Dami Im singles chronology
"I Am Australian"
"Jolene (Acoustic)"
Jessica Mauboy singles chronology
"I Am Australian"
"Never Be the Same"
Justice Crew singles chronology
"I Am Australian"
"Que Sera"
Nathaniel Willemse singles chronology
"I Am Australian"
"You're Beautiful"
Samantha Jade singles chronology
"I Am Australian"
Taylor Henderson singles chronology
"Borrow My Heart"
"I Am Australian"
"When You Were Mine"

"I Am Australian" was covered in 2014 by Dami Im, Jessica Mauboy, Justice Crew, Nathaniel Willemse, Samantha Jade and Taylor Henderson, with John Foreman on piano.[13] Sony Music Australia released their cover as a single on 24 January 2014, as part of Sydney's Australia Day celebrations.[13]

On recording the song, the artists said: [14]

  • Jessica Mauboy: "WOW…. what a song. What an honour. I love Australia Day and I am so thrilled to be a part of this recording. It was such an amazing experience recording the song I and cannot wait to sing it again live on beautiful Sydney Harbour."
  • Samantha Jade: "I just love this song. It really embodies the Australian spirit of inclusivity and it sends out a message that no matter where you were born or what colour your skin is, we all enjoy celebrating being Australian."
  • Justice Crew: "What an honour it is to be a part of this recording. We used to sing this song at school assembly and now to be a part of the special Sony Music recording with some of the best singers in the country is such a buzz."
  • Nathaniel: "Being born in South Africa and then moving to Australia at 6 years old, to now being a part of this very patriotic and special day is amazing. To be singing one of the most iconic songs of Australia and to be releasing it amongst other featured incredible artists is a privilege and an absolute honour and I am so grateful to be a part of it."
  • Dami Im: "What a unique and wonderful collaboration to be a part of. 'I Am Australian' is such a patriotic song that represents togetherness and the Australian spirit and what better way to celebrate this than through music."
  • Taylor Henderson: "It is such an amazing experience to work alongside the Sony family on such a special release. A year ago I was a proud Australian singing this song with my family and now to be a part of this official recording with my name alongside the other amazing talents on the record is such an honour. This song is so typically Australian and I am so proud to be a part of it."

A live video is available for the Take 40! website of the artists singing the song on a floating stage in the middle of Sydney Harbour.[15]

Chart performance

Chart (2014) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 51 [16]

Other recorded versions

  • 1996 Stewart Peters
  • 1999 The Goanna Gang
  • 1999 Aussie Bush Band
  • 2003 Jeff Turner
  • 2006 Travis Collins
  • 2006 Bruce McCumstie
  • 2008 Lazy Harry
  • 2009 Dobe Newton
  • 2009 Yabu Band
  • 2011 The Bushwackers
  • 2011 Danny Elliott
  • 2012 Brian Sutton


  1. http://www.bungareeps.vic.edu.au/uploads/1/0/3/0/10300962/i_am_australian.pdf
  2. Grant McArthur (11 February 2011). "Jeff Kennett wants national anthem change". The Advertiser. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v22SPtCFck8
  4. "Playing "I Am Australian" Song Without Appropriate Rights Costs Commonwealth $150,000". TimeBase. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  5. https://www.facebook.com/abcnews.au/videos/10157742452844988/
  6. "Y&R gets bite of Telstra mobile". B&T. 5 November 2003. Archived from the original on 22 September 2004.
  7. "Telstra plays patriot games at the Cup". B&T. 27 November 2003. Archived from the original on 3 July 2004.
  8. "Lee accepts $100,000 Farmhand donation from Telstra". Outbackclub - Lee Kernaghan. Archived from the original on 24 July 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2005.
  9. "Promising to remember". Melbourne Herald Sun. 23 February 2009.
  10. Johnston, Chris (23 February 2009). "National tribute to Victoria's bushfire victims". Adelaide Independent Weekly.
  11. Hamilton, John (23 February 2009). "United in Sorrow". Melbourne Herald Sun.
  12. "Judith Durham, Russell Hitchcock & Mandawuy Yunupingu – I Am Australian". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  13. "iTunes – Music – I Am Australian (feat. John Foreman) – Single by Various Artists". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  14. "I am Australian 2014". Spotlight Report. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  15. "I am Australian". Take 40! Australian. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  16. "Australian-charts.com – Dami Im, Jessica Mauboy, Justice Crew, Nathaniel, Samantha Jade & Taylor Henderson feat.John Foreman". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
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