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Australians We’re a Weird Mob

The following article has been penned by Ralph Hunter one of Skills Provision’s international partners Inwork based in Brisbane. The article helps:

  • Candidates looking to work in Australia
  • International Companies seeking to recruit in or for Australia
  • Presenting a  local view of how Australia is perceived internationally and the need for more timely and effective communication

“To say that Australians procrastinate and are slow to make decisions is an understatement. So, how did we come to be like this.

For centuries we have had to survive on our own, living in an unforgiving land of extremes where, for the most part only the strong survived. The Australian psyche has been bred into us from early settlement days with our ancestors being brought here in chains from overcrowded English prisons. It includes an attitude of arrogance and an inbuilt survival instinct to not need any assistance from anyone else. So, therefore, we do not need anyone to tell us what to do or how to do business.

We are very tolerant of other nationalities and openly accept other cultures and traditions. This however has limitations. While we are accepting of others, we do not want to change our ways or be influenced or pressured by these other cultures. This is epitomized in the statement ‘Australians are very easy going but never back them into a corner’. An example of this is the fighting spirit shown during wars and conflicts where Australian troops have been deployed and have succeeded against insurmountable odds.

So, if you are considering joining our culture for any reason these things have to be taken into consideration. Remember, you are not just ‘getting a job’ you are in fact joining our work family. Unfortunately, many workers who arrive in Australia expect to go about their business according to their own customs and this does not work with us at all.

I recently placed a highly skilled tradesman in a mining town in central New South Wales. He rang me several weeks into his employment complaining that his employer wanted to talk about his future employment options over a beer at the local golf club. I exclaimed that this was a wonderful thing because his employer considered him enough of ‘a mate’ and worker to invite him to have a drink. Unfortunately, the tradesman could not understand this tradition and is now back in his home country after only six weeks employment.

No amount of prior research can prepare you for every little cultural aspect of the Australian way of life. But, if you are open to the fact that Australians believe that they don’t need anyone else at all, you will succeed in securing employment.

Surviving the Australian workplace can be a task on its own so here are some tips:

  • Always be respectful of others in your workplace no matter what position they may hold. In Australia we do not have class structure
  • Don’t try to use all the Australian words that you know in the one sentence.
  • Don’t use Australian slang unless you are absolutely sure where it goes in a sentence and what it means.
  • Always arrive at least 15 minutes early for work and never leave at the end of the day until you gain approval from your employer.
  • If you do not have any work to do: offer to help others; use your initiative; ask for work; find some cleaning; never ever do nothing.
  • In most workplaces people are known by their first names. Always check first, particularly with your employer.
  • Australians will generally try and give you a nickname. This is a good thing as they have accepted you as ‘a mate’ and may also have trouble saying your name, particularly if it is a long one.
  • If you are male, do not under any circumstances flirt with female staff as this will inevitably lead to aggression from other workers.
  • Do learn the Australian language. We speak a variation of English which has been developed over 250 years and we are not about to ‘clean it up’ just for you. Communication is the key to understanding and unless we understand each other you will not keep your employment and be accepted by Australians. Unlike other countries where it is commonplace to learn two or maybe three languages, we really only need one – Australian.
  • Last, but not least, be happy. We are, so if you are not, you will not fit in.

I hope this brief insight into our culture helps you understand Aussies“.


Author – Chris Slay

Skills Provision will allow our articles/quotes to be reproduced on other formats as long as full accreditation is given.