What with the Australian government waving the southern cross all over the place once more, I got to thinking about what I have learnt about Australian values in the last twenty years of living and travelling all over this adopted sun-burnt country of mine. A couple of things have influenced my views: the majority of my interactions have been with native Australians and my innate values from my cultural background weren’t that different to start with.
A strong caveat here is that I do not include indigenous Australians in this, their plight and moral claim to being true Australians are indisputable but I cannot speak for them.
So anyway, here’s my list.
1. Give people a fair go.
A classic, a cliche but a good one. The fair-go clause (“geeze, give me/them/him/her a fair-go will-ya?”) when invoked will always cause the recipient to stop and think. It doesnt mean that they will actually give anyone the benefit of doubt, an opportunity or a helping hand (look at the way we treat uncontrolled boat arrivals) but the pause is actually pretty good because it allows for innate human decency to shine through – which it does most of the time.
2. Don’t bludge
On the surface, one could mistake this for a variant of the good ole protestant work ethic but within the Australian context, there’s a strong communal tinge. The full value may well be “Don’t bludge of your mates”. Unfortunately, over time, the average Australian’s sense of entitlement seems to have grown. Pretty much everyone bludges in one way or the other off the government. Personal independence seems to have dropped off as well – more people appear to bludge off their parents rather than making a go of it on their own.
3. Stop whinging
From observation, native Australians are brought up with this ringing in their ears. It makes for a certain taciturn surliness in their men and a tough-love no-nonsense attitude in their women but that’s actually kinda cool once you get used to it and if you’re a pretty confident independent sort. Alas, this value is receding enough from the cities that visits to regional towns can often cause a degree of culture shock to inner-city Australians. However, it’s not all bad – male health and life expectancy has improved.
4. Don’t be a bloody wanker
In other words, speak honest and directly, do not boast or show off, do not pretend to be something you’re not, be proud but not arrogant, strong but not a bully, polite but not obsequious. These are all good qualities but more often seen in certain types of Australian movies, tv serials and advertisements than in real life. In most inner city suburbs and city centers, pretty much everyone is a wanker in one way or another. I do not exclude myself either.
Anyway, that’s the list. They are my values as well of course but I don’t pretend to be living up to them better than my fellow Australians. The important thing is that from what I can tell, most of us do share them. And to all my fellow Aussies worried about the newbies flooding in from Outbloodywoopwoopstan, I’ve got this to say:
“Don’t be a bloody wanker and give them a fair-go. Geeze, it’s not like you haven’t bludged off the government at some point and if you were in one of those camps or boats, I bet you’ll be whinging a lot louder than those poor bastards.”