What is an Australian REALLY like?Feb 19, 2002 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line That is the foundation of the culture and it is not negotiable.
I have waxed lyrically about many of the wonderful sights and unique animals that exist in this country. All well and good, but what are Australians really like?
What do we need to look at to be able to accurately represent the majority of that twenty million strong tribe. Obviously some subjectivity will be required but we should be able to give reasons for their often weird behaviour.
So specifically we need to examine culture, needs, aspirations, attitude just for a start. Then we need to measure those against the results and finally to summarise what Australians are now.
All right then. Culture can only really be seen in the modern day because the majority of Australians came here in the first half of the twentieth century and by then the culture had been basically determined. Those that followed were essentially forced into line. I can recall in my young years German, Russian, French and many more clubs around the city. They were all told in no uncertain terms if you came here to continue as an Italian for instance, bloody well go home! Otherwise be an Australian and be proud of it!
They didn't want to go home of course but this was a very big issue in the 1960's. Now all those Clubs have gone and ninety nine per cent are Aussified. The truth is the majority could not comprehend that these people had anything worthwhile to say - they were know in the best country in the world so don't go telling us anything about some obscure and obviously inferior place overseas. And to make matters worse these people respected authority unquestioningly and revered the leaders of their countries - in other words they were mad. But it was soon beaten out of them!
The Australian Culture, way back in time and now, can easily be summed up in two key words - fair and mate. A fair go for all and everyone's a mate. Now if you get the real meaning of this you will understand Australians like never before.
"A fair go" means everybody is equal and treated equally. Nobody can ever be disadvantaged no matter what. It doesn't mean they have to win everything - in fact it's the opposite. In return for the fair go given to them they give whatever they are good at " a fair go" - in other words they try hard. Win, lose or draw who cares as long as the person was given a fair go and gave it a fair go - nothing else matters. And that applies to every aspect of life.
Now "mate" is much more than a word - a mate is your friend and everyone better be your mate or buy an airline ticket. Because everyone is your friend, rich or average, whatever occupation, they will give and expect a fair go. The two go hand in hand. It is okay for someone to be rich or a Leader of the country but they better not expect to be looked up to - it just won't happen. Similarly God help them because no one else will if they look down on someone.
That is the foundation of the culture and it is not negotiable.
We should be able to see it is very different to the Win Win ideals of many other cultures and the "it's not my responsibility if someone is poorly off" of others.
In practice now this means Australians are essentially arrogant. We firmly believe it is the best country to live in in the world and by far the most fair and democratic. The "fair go and mateship" have eliminated poverty and while we have rich that no one minds we have the most evenly balanced economy between haves and have nots in the world.
Of course just being best in the world is nowhere near good enough but at least it is a step in the right direction. And the "no poverty" needs a little qualification. What it means is that everyone receives enough money to rent a decent house, eat well and run a car - and that applies to the whole family. But if either Mum or Dad choose to gamble away the money or spend it on drugs then of course they will be in poverty. This is a minute percentage but it does happen. These things are seen as illnesses and free treatment is available but of course there will always be someone that won't be helped. Generally they are looked after on a case by case basis.
Now for needs. We believe everyone needs a decent place to live and food to eat as covered above. But they also need very cheap or free medical care, medicines, education and legal representation. The only thing that isn't free or petty cash is Legal Representation but for those at the lower end financially it is free and for serious crime it is also free. Also for disputes courts are rarely used.
Practically every industry has a free "Ombudsman", a person who arbitrates like a Judge. They have no power as such but their aim is to amicably resolve disputes for both parties. For instance if someone buys a brand new car and damages or wrecks it in the first twelve months an identical brand new vehicle must replace it. After that it is fair market value as determined by the independent Ombudsman if need be. Similarly, all new houses and any construction work on existing houses is automatically guaranteed for six years. It is rare to need a court for disputes of virtually any kind but they can be used as a last resort. Most Judges are not impressed if an Ombudsmans impartial report is not presented anyway.
Aspirations are very strong amongst youth. They are neither encouraged or discouraged - it seems to be automatic. They expect to get their driving licence at sixteen and to vote at eighteen. At eighteen a person is a full adult. Most get married in their twenties by which time they are well entrenched in the workforce and/or completed University. Less than a third of marriages are performed by Churches but they are treated just as seriously. Within two years of marriage the vast majority have their own house and of course a car or two. This particular aspiration is so strong we have the highest home ownership in the world and for first home buyers Government assistance is available. This takes the form of $25,000 at two per cent, no repayments, and seven to fourteen thousand dollars cash. That provides well enough for a deposit on a home, or to build a home in at least many areas in every city except sometimes Sydney. Australians move every seven years on average and the majority are living on quarter acre blocks, single story brick and tiled roof homes of around eighteen hundred square feet internally not counting porches, verandahs etc. That is about minimum with twenty five hundred square feet now common, two bathrooms and four or five bedrooms being pretty standard.
And that leaves attitude for this short piece. Australians are fiercely patriotic but don't show it in terms of rally's, flag waving, bands and so on. Rather we sho it with constant dialogue face to face with our politicians, by almost everyone voting because they want to and by no reverence towards those in authority. This one seems at odds with many cultures but who are those in authority? To us they are our servants and principally required to serve us. When the Prime Minister and quite often the Minister for foreign affairs (number one and four in the Government) wander into my shop if I called them anything but John and Alex they would probably look over their shoulders to see who I was talking to! There are no bodyguards, no "carry on" just three equals having a yarn.
They do have bodyguards if some demonstration is expected but they really aren't needed. The Prime Minister is well known for wandering the streets around his house alone. The security agencies generally know if there is a galah in the neigbouhood but that is quite rare. The only bit of pomp the Prime Minister has is a large Australian made car with PM1 on the number plate - bloody showoff!
This is not the venue for a full expose that would just about fill a book. But hopefully what I have covered will aid understanding of the weird mob called Aussi's.
I have covered the core only - there is more to the apple but hopefully now my arrogance and lack of humour will be better understood. After all, it's not my fault - just an accident of birth!
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