Australian Stereotype

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Representations of the "Australian Persona"

A key element of what is presented to be the Australian character is that of camaraderie, base friendliness towards everybody, and egalitarianism, the belief that everybody is equal and should have the same opportunities, treatment, etc. as everybody else. As such, Australians are very supportive of democracy, compulsory voting, and are generally, in most cases, unprejudiced towards each other based on such trivialities as, for example, social class – everybody will kick back together at the pub for a ‘coldie' in that ‘typical Aussie scene', described so well in the quote by Australian legend Henry Lawson, one of the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period, when he said "The greatest pleasure I have ever known is when my eyes meet the eyes of a mate over the top of two foaming glasses of beer." Mateship seems to be so much a part of the Australian culture that Prime Minister John Howard even tried to make it part of the Australian constitution in 1999, when he wrote in the Draft Constitutional Preamble that "We value excellence as well as fairness, independence as dearly as mateship".

The idea of mateship seems to be integral to our nation's psychology. People in every country have friends, but no country seems to emphasise this value as much as Australia, or adopt it as something that is embedded into the nation's culture or "typical" lifestyle. Though mate can refer to either man or woman, it is generally more commonly used amongst men, and seems to, in the Australian sense, denote what would elsewhere be seen as a sense of familial commitment and dependence on each other. ‘Mates' are the people you rely on most in times of need, and they are the people that will support you through good and bad, even if the whole world is standing against you. This can probably be traced back to Australia's origins as a convict colony and an immigrant nation. People – convicts, law enforcement officers, young men seeking their fortunes, newly married couples - came from around the world without their families, and consequently, their friends substituted for their lack of family network. Another reason for this could also be because of the very hard conditions that settlers had to live in the early days of Australia, when everybody was trying to break the new land in and were having a lot of trouble doing so, and had to rely on each other's help a lot to get through the hardships. It is agreed by common consent that people draw closer during difficulties, and this has made its mark on what is seen to be the typical Australian lifestyle.

The concept of ‘mateship' has also been highlighted in the book Best Mates: A Collection of Images Celebrating the Essence of Australian Mateship, which is written by Ashley Brown and Glenn Mickle, and is full of a range of images of ‘mates' and mottos such as "A mate will always forgive and forget" and "To have a mate, be a mate". It also includes people's stories, for example that of Doug and Collen Craw, who got married when they were 19 and attribute their lasting mateship, on their 30th anniversary, to the reason that "Like all mates, we love doing this together." (page 22)

The consumption of Alcohol and the many cultural etiquettes surrounding it seem to be a very prominent part of the set of characteristics that make up the "typical Australian" persona. There are several situations, attributed largely to the Australian lifestyle, where Alcohol comes to the foreground. The first of these is the ‘buying a round in the pub' scenario. A "round" refers to when one person pays for the drinks of all of the other members of the drinking party. Once this ‘round' of drinks has been consumed, the next person in the party should always supply the next round, and on and on, until every person present had paid for a round. Should the ‘rounds' continue, care must be taken by all to ensure that every member...
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