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Thursday, March 8, 2012

What is the Australian culture?

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The greatest pleasure I have ever known is when my eyes meet the eyes of a mate over the top of two foaming glasses of beer
Henry Lawson, Australian Legend, Early 20th Century

We value excellence as well as fairness, independence as dearly as mateship
Draft Constitutional Preamble, John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, 1999

It would take an awful lot of courage to jump on the back of a crocodile, but I suppose that's what you do for a mate
Thursday Island Police Sergeant Graham Burridge, The Courier Mail, August 20, 1999.

Several weeks ago we used the Moodle to start up a chat session on; “What is the Australian Culture”. Some of your thoughts were very interesting - are Australians really like that?

Australia has many things in common with the rest of the world, though there are several parts of our national identity and culture which are peculiar to us. These are detailed in the sections below. They include emphasis on physical as opposed to mental achievement, the concept of mateship, Australian idiom, language and humour. The embracing of the concept of multiculturalism is also covered. Be aware that any culture and national identity is always changing.

As the Australian Government site says in relation to Australian Culture,

“everyone in Australia is expected to uphold the principles and shared values that support Australia’s way of life. These include:
• respect for equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual
• freedom of speech and association
• freedom of religion and a secular government
• support for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law
• equality under the law
• equality of men and women
• equality of opportunity
• peacefulness
• a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces tolerance, mutual respect, and compassion for those in need. Australia also holds firmly to the belief that no one should be disadvantaged on the basis of their country of birth, cultural heritage, language, gender or religious belief.”

As we read about Australian culture many of these characteristics keep reappearing. But what is the Australian culture really? It is way beyond BBQ’s, footy, meat pies and thongs! There is an Australian culture but for many of us it is hard to define beyond the formal cultural characteristics listed above. In many ways it is the way of being; how we talk, how we respond to others, what we value, what makes us laugh, how we think about things, how we use our body, how we dress and what we like doing.

These websites are interesting in supplying some of the more subtle cultural traits.

Is there really a typical Australian? One website says that a typical Australian has the following characteristics:

• a strong sense of justice, balanced by a desire to champion the "underdog"
• loyalty and a strong sense of "mateship" and sticking by one's mates (friends)
• enjoys barbeques and beer (but not all of us like beer!)
• enjoys a day at the beach
• appreciates and respects the dry outback, with all its dangers and its raw, untouched beauty, even though not all Australians have the opportunity to travel through it
• hard-working and often hard-playing.

Have a look at these two YouTube videos on Australian culture.

Video 1: Australian Culture

Video 2: A personal view on what it is to be Australian

Do you agree with these views?

Stage 1 Society and Cultures Assignment 2

Use this information to design a brochure for a tourist coming to Australia. The brochure should be called; “Everything you need to know about Australians before visiting.” This will be the basis of assignment 2.

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