Australia: Culture and Society
Australians pride themselves on their friendliness and cultural diversity. The population lives in a generally safe, friendly, sophisticated and harmonious society. Many ethnic groups are represented in Australia, making it one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.
Australia’s diversity is described here:
- 25% of Australians were born in another country;
- 25% of Australians have at least one parent who was born overseas;
- Australian migrants are from more than 140 countries;
- 2% of Australians are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.
Australia is a very open-hearted and open-minded country. There is great respect for the law, for the individual’s freedoms and for playing fair. Just as with other countries, there are those who would flout the law and try to impinge on other people’s choices and freedom, but in general, Australia is a safe, free country with a clean environment, relaxed lifestyle and easy-going culture.
Equality between men and women continues to evolve, however Australia is considered progressive by world standards. Gay marriage was legalised in 2017, the Australian people stand up for what they believe in, generally without the need for violence (though it does happen on occasion) and for the most part, Australians are tolerant, welcoming and obliging. Australia’s population is very multicultural. Most of the world’s religions are practised here and there are plenty of churches, mosques and temples.
When you meet people in Australia, its customary to shake right hands. If meeting a close friend or relative, you may give each other a hug or a kiss on the cheek. Referring to people by their first name is usual unless it’s a very formal occasion. This is the case, for instance, for colleagues, employers, doctors, teachers and neighbours.
If you are invited to someone’s home for a meal or a drink, its customary to take something with you like a cake, a box of chocolates or a small plate of food. If it’s a party, you might be asked to bring your own alcohol.
Even though the national language of Australia is English, there are lots of ways that Australians speak differently to those from, say, the United States or England. Australian slang can be difficult for people from other countries to understand.
Australians love to socialise and the ‘backyard barbie’ (barbecue) is the most common way to entertain at home. Otherwise, going out for a meal or a drink, catching up to see a movie, go for a picnic or to see a live band is also popular.
In general, Australia’s classes can be identified as working class, middle class and upper class, however there is not really any ‘class’ or ‘caste’ system.
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