What makes an Australian?

What makes an Australian?

Probably not what you think ...

Posted on 22.10.2019

Australians have a dirty little secret.

It’s very hard to hear, over our habitually raucous national celebration of larrikins. We know what we like, right?

  • Prime ministers who sink pints and gamble.
  • Bushrangers. Cricketers who can down 52 tinnies during a single flight. Cultural sacred-cow-tippers.
  • Soldiers who did things their own way.
  • Suffragettes who overturned international conventions about who should be allowed to vote.
  • The indomitable land-rights activists who refused to be written out of the continent’s history. And so on.

The Australian story is a loud and unruly one, full of individuals who looked at the world around them, and decided to break the rules.
Which it’s why it’s so surprising that when asked to nominate the key element of what it means to be Australian, the most widely agreed-upon response was this: “Respecting our institutions and laws”.

Forget larrikins. To be Australian — according to the recipe written by more than 50,000 respondents to the(ABC’s) Australia Talks National Survey — the big thing is to follow the rules of the place.

The second-most important way to be Australian is to

Appreciate the natural environment

Just feel ‘the vibe’

For many parts of the globe, nationality is about where you were born.

But to this nation of immigrants, the question of birthplace is near-irrelevant. “Being born in Australia” rated only a 3 on the scale (though a breakdown of respondents showed a spike among One Nation voters at just above 5, tidily offset by Greens voters who care even less than everyone else about the land mass on which you originally entered the world).

“Being white” was the only element deemed less relevant than birthplace, rating only 1.8. And “Living most of your life in Australia” wasn’t viewed as especially important either, rating below 5.

In fact, the key to being Australian is — according to Australians themselves — more about your attitude than it is about anything the census would pick up.

It’s a prescription that could have come from Working Dog’s 1997 film classic, The Castle; “It’s the vibe, Your Honour!”

The second-most important way to be Australian is to “Appreciate the natural environment” (a score of 8.3, as codified in The Castle by Daryl Kerrigan’s timeless observation: “How’s the serenity?”)

The third-highest factor in being Australian is simply “Feeling Australian”, rating 7.5.

It’s pretty clear:
To be a real Australian, you need to follow the rules, love the land, and just feel the vibe!

Annabel Crabb
ABC News





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