Insider tips for immigrants being accepted and fitting into your new home in Australia
So you’ve decided to forsake the green fields of home for the wide brown land Down Under! Moving to Australia is exciting, but can also be unnerving.
Not only may you be wondering how you’ll adapt to your new country, but you may also have concerns on how well you’ll fit in with the local Australian population.
Well, the good news is that Aussies are known for being welcoming and friendly, which makes your task a lot easier. However, just like in many other countries, integration of immigrants has become a hot topic in Australia, so Australians appreciate it when foreigners make an effort to learn the local language and culture.
So to help you settle into your new country more comfortably, we’ve asked Janet Forster, an Australian writer and researcher, to give us the inside scoop about what Aussies like to see in ‘new Australians’ when you arrive on their ocean ‘girt’* shores of pristine sand.
Follow these tips and you’ll soon be making new friends and feel accepted into the Australian way of life!
*‘girt’ is an Aussie expression used in their national anthem, ‘Our home is girt by sea’ – meaning girded or surrounded by the sea.
Australia Is Multicultural, Which Is Significant For Migrants
Australia is one of the most multicultural societies in the world – nearly half our citizens were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was. Therefore, most Australians today, whatever their ethnic background, are exposed to a wide range of cultures very early in life.
Over the years, this has developed a modern Australian who is a lot more tolerant and understanding of other cultures than was the case even 2 or 3 generations ago. Many of them, being first or second generation Australians, still retain some of their traditional culture as well as being immersed in Australia’s ‘official’ western culture.
That’s probably why a poll conducted by our major ethnic television station recently found that Australians generally are not averse to the idea of migrants. Had the same poll been run half a century ago the results may have been very different!
Having said that though, most Australians, even the most multicultural ones, also believe that new migrants should possess, or develop, a number of key traits if they want to be accepted into mainstream Australian life.
Insider Integration Tip #1: Be Able To Pay Your Own Way
Australians are generally happy to share our great country with you but we do prefer it if you can pay your own way when you get here. Currently this isn’t difficult if you have skills that are in demand.
Take Advantage of The Mining Boom
Australia is one of the world’s mining powerhouses and there’s a mining boom happening. However, a legacy of boom and bust redundancy cycles combined with an aging workforce has left the industry with a current skills shortage.
Up and coming Australian professionals are seeking career stability and they don’t see the mining industry providing that, even with the attractive salaries on offer. This has opened the door wide for skilled migrants who possess the required training and experience.
But There Are Also Other Sectors Looking For Skilled Workers
In addition to mining, there are other industries also looking for experienced professionals and qualified tradespeople. Migrants with qualifications that are on the Skilled Occupations List will generally find it easier to get work, or start a business, here.
If that’s you, and you’re coming over on a skilled work visa, then you’ll tick that ‘must be able to earn a living’ box straight away. In which case, welcome to Australia. Your desire to integrate has just been made one tick box simpler.
Insider Integration Tip #2: Accept Australian Cultural Values
In Australia, everyone is free to follow and celebrate their cultural and religious traditions as long as they do not break Australian laws. Everyone can participate and belong to the community as an Australian. The Australian Government supports the diversity of the Australian community, and has reaffirmed its commitment to a culturally diverse nation where everyone belongs and has the opportunity to participate in the life of the nation.
This official statement very clearly explains the fundamental principle underpinning Australian culture and values. In fact, you could say our culture IS that we’re multicultural. That being the case, we expect new arrivals to be respectful, considerate, and understanding of all the various cultures, ideas, religions, and nationalities that are part of the rich and diverse fabric of Australian society.
If you do happen to have some hang-ups and prejudices, it’s a good idea to try and leave them behind when you come down. Whilst most of us are reasonably tolerant of most other cultures, religions, and traditions, we do nevertheless have our fair share of ‘problem citizens’ too. Their numbers don’t need boosting!
Insider Integration Tip #3: Guests Don’t Complain Or Make Unfavourable Comparisons Out Loud
Or at least not if they want to fit in. If you don’t want to offend, or be labelled a ‘WP’(whinging Pom), keep any uncharitable thoughts you may have about any aspect of Australia to yourself when in the company of Australians. No one, including us, likes guests who complain about the hospitality or vocally compare things unfavourably with ‘back home’.
There are many differences between Australia and the UK. Some good, some not so good and some maybe just different. For example, Burger King in Australia is Hungry Jacks.
A lot of migrants make the mistake of pointing out all these differences to everyone and whilst not meaning may appear critical. So whilst these differences maybe fascinating to you be careful about sharing them with everyone else.
Ultimately, we are of the opinion that you chose to come here and no one is forcing you to stay! Also, sadly, this is probably how the term ‘whinging Pom’ (WP) came into popular use.
Insider Integration Tip #4: We Also Swear Like Troopers So Learn To Ignore It
Speaking of cuss words brings us nicely to another tip. Australian’s have a natural conversational habit of using totally superfluous expletives that would make a sailor blush. If you understand that most of us don’t even realise we’re doing it, that may help you come to terms with it.
Regardless, your options are to adopt a ‘can’t beat em so may as well join em’ attitude, learn not to be offended so you don’t wind up spending most of your time being offended, or just ignore. Chastising is not wise because it could unleash a torrent of deliberate and even more offensive cuss words in your direction.
Insider Integration Tip #5: Try and Learn Our Lingo
As a Brit, you probably already speak excellent English and could teach us a thing or two about it so the general rule about being able to speak English (or be willing to learn it) may not apply in your case. However, as you’re about to find out, there is the Queen’s English, and then there is Australian English! It may take a while to get used to our somewhat irreverent treatment (apologies) of your language. In our defence though – we don’t use ‘z’ instead of ‘s’ nor have we invented a new way of spelling just about every word with more than 1 syllable.
We do nonetheless have a bad habit of merging or shortening words, which probably has something to do with our laid back attitude to life in general. So if someone tells you they’re going to “Maccas mate”, what they actually mean is they’re headed to “MacDonalds, my friend”. Incidentally, ‘mate’ is a word you should learn how to integrate into every second sentence, along with the obligatory cuss word or three.
If you can also manage to forget every polite or formal greeting you were ever taught, and adopt the habit of saying “g’day” instead so much the better. The sooner you begin to sound like one of us, the sooner you’ll be able to slide unobtrusively into Australian society.
Insider Integration Tip #6: Just Accept That Australians Are World Champions At Everything
You may have heard that we’re a little bit keen on sports here. We did after all bring you ‘the best Olympic Games ever’. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm usually doesn’t translate to being much more than a supportive spectator, and a sore loser. It pays to keep that last point in mind….
We also have a kind of friendly rivalry happening with the ‘Mother Country’ and our neighbour across the ditch, both of whom are very well represented on Australian soil. You’re welcome to join in the celebrations when we beat either country, at anything, but we also prefer it if you keep your glee to yourself when the unthinkable happens and we get beaten!
In fact, such gloating is a sure fire way to ensure you’re never really accepted into any worthwhile Australian community. Yes, we really do hate being beaten by Brits and Kiwis that much!
Insider Integration Tip #7: Find The Right Friends To Help You Transition Successfully
If you truly want to assimilate well into Australian society, don’t make the mistake of restricting your association to only those groups within the community that share your language, nationality, ethnicity, culture, or religion. Yes, you may well feel more comfortable with them, at least initially, but hanging out with them and only them definitely isn’t going to help you integrate into the broader Australian community.
Many migrants who have managed to successfully assimilate into Australian society will likely tell you they initially formed friendships with people who had one foot in each world. Often these are first generation Australians i.e. the children of migrants, who have been educated and brought up as Australians whilst still understanding and appreciating their ethnic roots.
Alternatively, they may be family members who have lived here for some time and been down the same path. These people are able to introduce you to broader Australian life but at the same time provide a link with your past. That’s an important consideration when moving to a new country, and brings us to our final insider integration tip.
Insider Integration Tip #8: Moving To Australia Doesn’t Mean Giving Up What Makes You You
We don’t expect you to give up everything that makes you British. What we’re asking is that you develop an appreciation for the differences between our two great nations, whilst also embracing all those familiar things that provide strong clues about our past as a British penal colony.
We play cricket, just like you do. We drive on the left, just like you do. We number our roads, just like you do. In fact, we pinched the idea from you so seeing those route numbers everywhere should make you feel right at home on our roads. Many of our road rules are also similar so if you hold a UK drivers licence you already know how to drive in Oz, and probably better than most Australians!
We also kept your Westminster system of government, we have a Prime Minister, and the Queen is our official head of state. That’s a lot of commonalities we have in common.
Other Tips That May Help You Integrate Faster
Apart from what Australians consider important there are other things you can do to help yourself integrate better. One of them is volunteering. Volunteers are often in short supply. For new arrivals with experience or skills in certain areas, finding a community group or organisation that needs them and offering to help out as a volunteer is often a fast track ticket to assimilation.
It’ll get you out and about in your new community meeting new people, making new friends, and boost your self-confidence. You may also get some leads for employment opportunities if you’re looking for work, or clients if you’re setting up your own business. It also won’t do your reputation as a ‘good sort’ any harm either!
If you need more information and assistance about getting off to a good start in Australia this site is an excellent starting point.
Shipping your home from home
Follow these tips and with a bit of patience you’ll soon be feeling a part of Aussie society rather than an immigrant outsider. You may still get ribbed for being a pom every now and again, but at least you’ll know it’s just good hearted banter and that sooner or later you’ll be accepted as a ‘cobber’ and not a ‘drongo’.
But another way to feel at home is to take some of the UK with you to Australia. It can be quite a comfort to come home from a busy day at work to be greeted with many of your old familiar furniture and belongings.
PSS International are happy to help with transporting your belongings Down Under including your favourite armchair. And it need not cost as much as you think.
Contact our team today for more details or to arrange a quote for moving to Australia.