06/07/2012 11:01 BST

Girl Guides Australia: Members To No Longer Promise To Honour Queen And God

Girl Guides in Australia will no longer swear to allegiance to God and the Queen, in a historic change intended to ensure the organisation "remains relevant to the girls and members of today."

Instead of pledging to "do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country”, girls will now swear "to do my duty to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve my community and Australia and live by the Guide Law."

"The world has changed and we have to move on,” Belinda Allen, director of Girl Guides Australia told Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail.

"Our community comes from about 200 different countries.

"We need to be able to reflect our community and have wording in our promise that's meaningful and relevant to the girls of Australia in the 21st Century."

A pledge of "obedience" has also been removed from the promise, because as Allen explained to The Daily Telegraph Australia: "Obedience was universally seen as not appropriate for women in 2012."

The new promise is installed on Friday, after an 18-month consultation with its members. Swearing obedience the Queen was made an optional part of the promise in 2001.

In a question and answer section on the Girl Guides website, the organisation tells its members "You can serve the Queen as part of your service to Australia."

However the move has attracted anger from monarchists and the Scouts Australia, the organisation for boys, has said it will not be changing its oath of allegiance which honours God and country.

Philip Benwell, national chairman of the Australian Monarchist League, told Channel 9 News the move would alienate members in the jubilee year, when the Queen was experiencing "great popularity".

"If the Girl Guides think they will achieve greater numbers by removing the very essence of what they are, then I feel they are sadly mistaken," he added.

Posts on the Facebook page for the Girl Guides Australia show the move has been greeted by strong opinions on both sides. One member writes:

"I think that the change to the promise is a good move, because it allows all girls to fully participate regardless of their background. The changing of God to religion is a practical change. Australia is no longer only Christian, and Guides is about including everyone."

However the change is certainly divisive, as one former Guide writes: "I will not be pushing my girls to enrol their daughters as Guides. My allegiance to my Queen and God were an essential part of being a Guide. It's indeed a very sad day."

Another is much happier after the shift in expression: "If my daughter chooses to be a guide I can be content in the knowledge that she will have the freedom to promise in a meaningful way without having to compromise/conform to a certain belief set. Thank you for showing us all what inclusion really means."

Girl guides Australia is more than 100 years old and has over 18,000 members aged between 5-17 in the country. There are more than 10 million girl guides worldwide. It is a voluntary organisation that hopes to educate girls in the skills needed to be confident members of the community.