Wednesday 30 March 2011 - Is there a typical Australian ?
I’ve been looking a long time for a book or a reference which would define what “Australian” means (“Why You Are Australian: A Letter to My Children: by Nikki Gemmell, is not too bad in that sense) and I bumped into that article on the immigration website (www.immi.gov.au) when reading the document “Life in Australia” and I wanted to share some extracts with you because I found quite accurate.
“Is there a typical Australian ?
There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the Australian identity and whether there is such a thing as a ‘typical’ Australian, with standard characteristics or traits. There is no shortage of popular stereotypes and, just to confuse things, sometimes these stereotypes
contradict each other.
· Australians are egalitarian, irreverent people with a deep suspicion of authority – yet they are mostly law–abiding and conformist.
· Australians are people of few words who live mainly in country areas or the Australian bush – yet most of them live a cosmopolitan lifestyle in the cities.
· Whether Australians live in the city or the bush they are open and direct and they say what they mean.
· Australians believe in the principle of giving people a fair go
· Australians stand up for their mates (friends), the disadvantaged and the underdog. An underdog is a competitor or rival that is thought to have little chance of winning a sporting game or contest.
· Australians love their sport, both as spectators and participants
[...] Australians are sometimes seen as Europeans trying to come to terms with being geographically located in the Asia–Pacific region. Yet, at the same time, Australia is often seen as a gateway to Asia because of its geographic position and the large number of Australians who speak Asian languages. The truth, of course, is that Australians, like people everywhere, cannot be easily stereotyped. [..]
Some of the qualities so closely associated with Australians, like mateship (friendship) and a fair go, are characteristics shared and valued by many people around the world. Australians obviously do not have exclusivity over compassion, fairness and loyalty to friends.
What is very Australian about these terms is that they have become firmly embedded in Australian history and the Australian psyche.
The concepts of mateship and a fair go grew out of the often tough battle for survival by Australia’s early settlers against a strange, harsh and often hostile environment; they were reinforced by later generations of men and women in the Australian bush who relied on and supported each other through floods, fire and drought. [...]
Volunteering – practical mateship
Australians are well–known for their willingness to undertake voluntary social and community work without pay. More than six million Australians over the age of 18 years are active volunteers, helping out in a wide range of areas including emergency services, welfare, environment and conservation, fundraising, management, teaching and administration.
Many of Australia’s bushfire fighters and emergency service officers are volunteers.
According to one survey, 47 per cent of people who undertook volunteer work gave their reason for doing so as wanting to be of service to the community. The other 43 per cent did so because it gave them personal satisfaction.”
Source : http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/values/book/lia_english_full.pdf page30-31