If you are looking into moving to Australia from the UK you might be wondering what your new Australian neighbours will be like and whether they will fit the stereotypes that you have heard about what Australians are like. The truth is that most of the Australians you meet won’t necessarily match up with the exaggerated and misinformed stereotypes of Australians that you might have heard about just like us Brits do not match the stereotypes we may see in American culture.
The funny thing about stereotypes is that they have to come from somewhere – so usually a stereotype reflects a certain type of person who does actually exist in Australia. However, the issue comes when you start to assume that everyone you interact with in Australia will live up to the stereotype. In fact, you might even offend someone by assuming you know what they will be like before you get to know them.
Here are some of the stereotypes you have heard about Australians that are not necessarily true:
Every Australian Loves Vegemite
Although Vegemite is a popular iconic spread that is associated with Australia, it isn’t necessarily everyone’s favourite. There are many Australians who don’t like vegemite and it is not the most popular spread. It has a very strong and distinct flavour so there are many who cannot stomach it. Alternatives such as cheese, dips, butter and jam are more commonly consumed in Australia.
Australians Speak in Obscure Slang
Another stereotype that is commonly perpetuated by depictions of Australians in the media is that they speak in incomprehensible slang and use expressions such as “G’day Mate”, “Fair Dinkum” and “Hard Yakka” all the time. However, this is not usually true and most Australian’s don’t speak like this. In fact, they might only use these words in jest when they are making fun of themselves. There is very little chance you will ever hear someone seriously say, “put another shrimp on the Barbie.”
All Australians Drink to Excess
There is a stereotype of Australians being heavy drinkers and getting drunk all the time. This can be true to some extent, as alcohol problems are present within Australian society. However, some Australians do not drink at all and most who do drink keep it down to moderate levels that have few adverse health effects. In fact, according to a survey by the National Drug Strategy daily drinking declined significantly between 2010 and 2013 and was at the lowest level since 1991. When you meet an Australian don’t assume immediately that they are a heavy drinker, as they might not be.
Australians are the Same as Kiwis
Not only is this stereotype untrue, but insisting that these two island nations are the same will annoy both your Aussie and Kiwi friends. They might have similar sounding accents and they might be geographically close to each other, but that is no excuse for mixing up their nations entirely.
This goes the other way around too, so if you are applying for New Zealand Visas and you call your new Kiwi friends Aussies they will also be offended. They are two very different counties and it is important to understand the differences.
Australians are Racist
Another stereotype that floats around is that Australia is a racist country and that the majority of people there have racist attitudes. However, this is not necessarily true for everyone you meet. In fact, as a whole Australia is not racist. There can be some tension within Australian society between different ethnic groups, but in practical terms the classrooms are multi-racial, the friendship groups are diverse, the sport teams have multi-racial members and generally society is a mix of different ethnicity.
There are also laws and policies within Australia that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race and this system reflects the integrity of such a highly developed nation. Of course, racism does still exist and some individuals have racist viewpoints – but this is true in any nation on earth.
It is important to note that for Australians making jokes about racial origins is not considered racist or offensive – the categories of inappropriate humour are different.
These are just a few stereotypes about Australians that are not necessarily true, so make sure that you are aware of these stereotypes and don’t assume that every Australian you meet will fit them.