Cultural and Ethnic Studies Assignment on Perspectives on Australian Identity




Australia is a culturally diverse nation that has captured the attention of the rest of world. As a result, Australia hosts people from a wide range of backgrounds establishing a cross-cultural situation accepting and relating without prejudice and pre-conceptions based on erroneous ideas, stereotypes, and emotive issues[1]. Race refers to physical characteristics including skin color. Recently, genetic markers including blood groups have been used in reference to race. Race, however, can also refer to human population comprising members sharing similar greater degree of genetic and physical similarity. Conversely, culture refers to the customarily learned manners of behavioral organization among human beings. Culture can also refer to how the human population act, interact, perceive, and interpret their world and relationships. Race and culture play a crucial role in personal experiences as they influence peoples’ encounters with intersectional nature of identity. Therefore, identity refers to the cultural and social roles played in a social setting[2].  As a result, the essay will focus on racial and cultural integration among immigrants attempting to acquire an Australian identity.

Personal Experience: Living in Australia

In Australia, identity is determined by how people relate with family and friends. On a personal level, identity has determined my position in the Australian society further influencing how I establish relations and maintain interactions to fulfill the sense of belonging. Having grown up in United States, my understanding of Australia and the Australian identity had been restricted to the documentaries and movies I had watched regarding the country and its culture. I, therefore, experienced cultural shock when I moved to Australia and discovered that there was much more than I had watched. I also learned that the Australian society has been evolving since the 19th Century leading to the establishment of cosmopolitan states. The states attract immigrants from all continents. The conflicting Australian history reflecting conflict, violation of human rights, and economic hardship and primitive landscape has not hindered natives to grab onto an identity.

The Australian identity makes the natives appear unique as they establish bonds with each other. More so, the citizens are accepting encouraging indigenous and foreign residents to feel connected to the Australian culture and enhance the sense of happiness, familiarity, and satisfaction[3]. Thus, I have not experienced racial discrimination in efforts to discover my Australian identity despite experiencing cultural shock. Instead, I have discovered that racial diversity across Australia has played a vital role of appreciating and valuing the rich aspects of the country. Australians, therefore, believe that there is always something good about every race and culture. As a result, they have not attempted to devalue my personal and national racial and cultural norms and beliefs as an American.

Racial and Cultural Integration in Australia

According to Pat Dudgeon, Michael Wright, Yin Paradies, Darren Garvey and Iain Walker, foreigners settled in Australia for economic reasons. Others have moved into the country seeking political asylum while the rest are in pursuit of social and educational diversity[4]. For example, most Europeans moved to Australia in 1967 in attempts to recover, regain, and reconstruct their identities. They strived towards self-determination and political equality in quest for cultural identity. They, however, experienced racism and negative stereotypes denying them meaningful status as citizens. In 1967, a referendum was carried out to implement legal changes ensuring a change in the government’s attitude towards foreigners[5]. The referendum sought to ensure the government welcome foreigners in Australia and encourage them possess certain rights without experiencing racial discrimination.

Currently, the Australian government strives to ensure that persons residing in the country, either natives or foreigners adopt a strong sense of belonging to the community. The structured Australian communities enhance family ties and kinship networks. Political and cultural dimensions give a sense of unity and strength. For example, community members are obliged to fulfill their family responsibilities and participate in social and political initiatives aimed at improving their living conditions. As a result, the process of accepting people does not focus on their skin color or percentage of genetic characteristic. Instead, people are accepted and encouraged to embrace the Australian culture[6]. They are also accepted and appreciated for participating in descent cultural upbringings and life experiences. The Australian government has observed that encouraging the citizens and legal residents to embrace cultural diversity and acceptance has enhanced racial integration.

Personally, I moved to Australia to pursue higher education. I discovered that I was among the minority as American students were fewer compared to students from other global regions including Europe and Asia. Australian students, however, neither focused on our cultural nor national differences. They mostly focused on the fact that everyone in the learning institution is pursuing career and professional development. As a result, they were welcoming. They helped foreigners to adopt the cultural shock and provided survival tactics especially among foreigners experiencing challenges adapting to the hot and humid weather. The natives also seemed curious and interested to learn about our cultural backgrounds without asking stereotyped questions or clarifications. Ultimately, natives played a vital role in helping me settle and appreciate the Australian culture. Consequently, I was able to embrace the Australian identity without losing or neglecting my American identity.

The Australian climate and geography enables natives to spend leisure time engaging in outdoor activities. The rest of the world often views Australians as slow-talking and easy-going people with tanned bodies. Although these traits can describe an Aussie, they are also stereotypes as some Australians are blonde-haired people who love engaging in sports. More so, technological revolution and abundant foods in Australia have led some of the citizens to be overweight[7]. Non-nationals from the Middle East, Asia, and Europe have also played the role of balancing the population as it was dominated by the British. For example, Australians maintained the bronze-god image or the Anglo Saxon appearance after the British colonization. Presently, the appearance cannot be regarded as the true Australian identity. Dark-skinned aboriginals, suntanned blonde-haired people, and pale-skinned Europeans have established the new true Australian identity that is not based on appearances. Thus, the true Australian identity is based on multicultural mix that embraces people from diverse racial backgrounds.

Appreciating the Australian Identity

The American upbringing aligns and defines race and national identity. Conversely, the Australian identity involves holding legal documents allowing one to either study or work in the country. More importantly, a person ought to have an open mind when visiting a foreign region. As a result, Australians strive to gain familiarity with foreign races and cultures without smirks and judgments. Their way of life encourages foreigners to enjoy the freedoms allowed through the legal documents[8]. For example, natives accepted and encouraged me to enjoy the freedom of travel. I travelled to various beautiful regions and experienced fascinating cultural exposure. This encouraged me to consider and feel like an Australian, as the country is beautiful and culturally endowed. Although the natives may occasionally ask my ‘true identity’, they do not pose the question in a discriminatory manner but rather in a curious and fascinated way. More so, they often seem excited to learn that a foreigner can move to their country, appreciate the culture and embrace being identified as an Australian. Thus, my racial and cultural identity as an Australian goes beyond my legal status. The undeniable Australian elements have become a part of my personal identity as an American in Australia. Thus, I neither fear nor feel scared that the Australian identity will overtake my American identity.

The Australian identity is also linked to opportunity. It is simple to claim that a true Australian identity involves examining indigenous communities that existed before the British colonized Australia. The concept of true Australians hoping and seeking a better life, however, can be applied to resonate with all people who have settled in Australia. For example, some people moved to Australia during the Gold Rush while some included Europeans who were fleeing poverty and political wars. After settling in Australia, all the foreigners held onto the idea the country can provide an opportunity for a better life. Thus, hope and pursuit for a better life is an aspect of the Australian identity[9]. The aspect affirms that Australians have the courage to face challenges and take risks. Consequently, they are able to achieve the quality of life they can appreciate and value. The Australian multicultural society has encouraged natives to maintain mate-ship while embracing different races, religions, and cultures they experience in their daily lives[10]. For example, Australians join in the Chinese New Year and Italian Festivals celebrations. They enjoy the diverse foods served during such celebrations and join their friends in different places of worship. They help in celebrating milestones and dance to music they do not necessarily understand because they accept and value the fact that other foreigners are people from respectable cultural and racial backgrounds[11]. A true Australian identity, therefore, involves embracing the ability to accept and tolerating new and different races, cultures, religions, and other diverse aspects of life that are important to someone else or their mates.

Lastly, a true Australian identity embraces generosity and courage. Australian soldiers initially demonstrated the spirit of generosity. The soldiers volunteered to fight and rescue the country from sociopolitical disasters despite facing the risk of either being injured or losing their lives[12]. Australians often come together and assist their mates during tough times. More so, Australians have a sense of humor as they acknowledge that human beings need friends to spend time and laugh with or turn to during a time of need[13]. As a result, the Australian identity encourages one to embrace tolerance and accept that diversity is important as it enhances integration and improves peoples’ lives through establishment of friendships.

In conclusion, it is evident that racial and cultural integration has been a critical aspect to consider in pursuing an Australian identity. Although identities are always evolving, the best aspects should be retained. The country should adopt new aspects that improve peoples’ quality of life. Thus, Australians strive to identify the best in everyone with the hope that every person has the ability to contribute to a better future in stable and tough times. As a result, they do not focus on racial and cultural discrimination but rather integration as they Australians believe diversity is a truly remarkable aspect that can change the world at large.




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Cousins, Sara. Contemporary Australia: National Identity. Monash University National Centre for Australian Studies, 2005.

Dudgeon, Pat, Wright, Michael, Paradies, Yin, Garvey, Darren and Walker, Iain. The Social, Cultural and Historical Context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010.

Hollinsworth, David. “Unsettling Australian Settler Supremacy: Combating Resistance in University Aboriginal Studies.” Race Ethnicity and Education 1, no. 1 (2014): 1-21.

Jed, Donoghue, and Tranter Bruce. “The Anzacs: Military Influences on Australian Identity.” Journal of Sociology 1, no (2013), 1-15.

Maddison, Sarah. “Postcolonial Guilt and National Identity: Historical Injustice and the Australian Settler State.” Social Identities 18, no. 6 (2012): 695-709.

Moran, Anthony. “Multiculturalism as Nation-building in Australia: Inclusive National Identity and the Embrace of Diversity.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 34, no. 12 (2011): 2153-2172.

Nola, Purdie, and Wilss Lynn. “Australian National Identity: Young Peoples’ Conceptions of What It Means to be Australian.” National Identities 9, no. 1 (2007): 67-82.

Parapak, Jonathan. Global Communications and Cultural Identity: Challenges and Opportunities. Australian Government: Department of Social Services, 2016.

Tranter, Bruce, and Jed Donoghue. “Colonial and Post-Colonial Aspects of Australian Identity.” The British Journal of Sociology 58, no. 2 (2007): 165-183.

[1] Sarah, “Postcolonial Guilt,” 173

[2]Sara, Cousins. Contemporary Australia: National Identity. (Monash University National Centre for Australian Studies, 2005), 1.


[3] Gordon, Briscoe, and Len Smith. The Aboriginal Population Revisited: 70,000 Years to the Present. (Canberra, Aboriginal History, 2002), 12

[4] Pat et al., Yin Paradies, Darren Garvey and Iain Walker. The social, cultural and historical context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. (Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010), 29.


[5] Bruce and Donoghue, “Colonial and Post-Colonial,” 168

[6] Jonathan, Parapak. Global Communications and Cultural Identity: Challenges and Opportunities. (Australian Government: Department of Social Services, 2016), 1.


[7] Sara, Cousins. Contemporary Australia: National Identity. (Monash University National Centre for Australian Studies, 2005), 4.


[8] Purdie and Lynn “Australian National Identity,” 72

[9] David, “Unsettling Australian,” 14


[10] Jonathan, Parapak. Global Communications and Cultural Identity: Challenges and Opportunities. (Australian Government: Department of Social Services, 2016), 1.

[11] Anthony, “Multiculturalism as Nation-building,” 2163

[12] Donoghue and Bruce, “The Anzacs,” 8

[13] “Ibid.,”