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Guide to Cultural Traits for Expats in Australia

Submitted: August 2013

Australian citizens are generally considered to be welcoming, easy going and friendly with a good sense of humour, loving a drink of beer and of course the barbecue (barbie). Given the climate and the history of the country none of these things are surprising. Australians consider themselves to be hard working with a great emphasis on a work-life balance although it has to be said that this has perhaps suffered in recent years and is probably no better than in other industrial countries.

Generally, Australians treat whoever they meet with the same laid back attitude. It is common for people to call each other by their first names and not standing on any kind of ceremony when introductions are first made. Calling someone by their title and surname is usually something only children are expected to do.

The attitude of individuals from Australia towards other people is one of tolerance and a strong sense of 'getting a fair go'. This expression means that everyone should have the same opportunity and not be discriminated against because of ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender. Although Australian men are often portrayed as being sexist, drinking beer and leaving all the housework and childcare to their wives, the reality is that women in Australia enjoy more equality than they do in many other countries. Indeed, the concept of 'mateship', originally a preserve for the male of the species, these days also encompasses relationships between men and women. 'Mateship' is based on equality, solidarity and friendship and apparently has its origin in the time of the settlers who had to support each other in order to survive while attempting to work the land.

A recent survey put 'mateship' at the top of the list that defines a true Aussie. The second item on the list is the 'barbie' and beer with 36% of men and 29% of women considering it an important factor of Aussie life.

Aussies appear to have a real love for the underdog. This is especially true when it comes to the various sports Australians are so fond of. The losing cricket team returning from the ashes series, the beaten national rugby team and the individual sportsmen and women returning from international events without any glory will usually still be welcomed back to Australia as national heroes.

Most Australian individuals are unpretentious and do not consider themselves better or worse than anybody else. It is unusual to encounter an Aussie who thinks that they have a standing which is above that of any of his compatriots even if they live in a larger house, drive a better car and have plenty of money in the bank. Any Aussie thinking they are better than their peers would be considered to suffer from 'tall poppy syndrome' and not be worthy of 'mateship'. A degree of humility should be evident in everyone unless they want to be categorised as being narcissistic.

Many individuals from all over the world have settled in Australia and would probably not even consider returning to their country of origin after having experienced the wonderful landscapes and beaches, the laid-back way of life and the barbies on the beach. Would be expatriates to Australia will find it relatively easy to settle in and make friends with their Aussie neighbours as long as they do not forget to swallow a big portion of humility before setting foot on Australian soil.

 

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