The Shaping Of Australian Culture

The Shaping Of Australian Culture

Culture: the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group. Attributes that make up a way of life.

The purpose of this article is to give a brief understanding of the Australian culture, its uniqueness, its strengths, its weaknesses, and its history. In order to understand where a nation is, we need to know where it came from. In the history of Australia we can see both the effects of sin and the influences of righteousness that has shaped its culture. In the undertaking of this endeavor, I am going to take the unfolding of the history of Australia from a cultural perspective of its culture.

We could divide Australia into 3 periods of history:

  1. Pre-colonization, 
  2. Colonization – federation
  3. Post-federation.

Australia is a nation born late in time, a continent discovered late in time, and yet an island isolated and kept from civilization till the very last. Many speak of the wilds of Africa and of the untamed jungles of South America, yet Australia aside from perhaps Antarctica was truly the last continent to be explored and opened up. When railway lines were being forged across the Northern American continent, vast amounts of the interior of Australia still had not even been surveyed. Yet perhaps more telling than this, when floods of missionaries were pouring into the dark continent of Africa and the occult bound continent of Asia and the revivals of the Philadelphian age were sweeping through North America and Britain, Australia was little more than a penal outpost and of no significant interest to the modern missions movement.

The forces that have shaped the Australian culture have been many and varied. The powerful forces of geography, the very nature of the land itself, and the deep forces of multinational cultures have had a unique influence. The nation of Australia is the offspring of the rise of modernism and postmodernism of the 1800s. 

But we must also see the good hand of the providence of God giving every grace and opportunity for this nation and its people to acknowledge Him and to receive His great grace.

The Pre-Colonization Period Of Australia

Of the three periods of history in Australia, I intend to spend the least amount of time discussing the pre-colonization period. Comparatively, this period had the least bearing on the present culture of the nation of Australia. In 1770 Captain James Cook landed on the east coast of Australia at a place he named Botany Bay (where I grew up) and claimed the continent in the name of Britain. It was not more than a month later that Captain La Perouse of France landed at nearly the same place with similar intent. We can see the providence of God in making this country an offspring of Britain rather than France. Then in 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip commanding a fleet of 11 ships sailed into Sydney Harbour to establish a new British penal colony on the distant unknown continent.

Prior to this the continent of Australia was inhabited by what became known as the ‘Aboriginal’ people. The word ‘aboriginal’ is more of a description of the people rather than an actual name for the collective inhabitants. It is merely describing them as the original native inhabitants of the land. It is estimated that there were some 300,000 aborigines living across the entirety of the country and some 250+ language groups at the time of the arrival of the British in 1770. Amidst these language groups, there were varying tribes and family groups spread throughout the various geographies. It must be noted that it has been said that the aborigines of the mainland, as opposed to the island of Tasmania off the south coast of the mainland, were not purely the original inhabitants rather they were a mixed people of those that had first settled the land in the post-flood days and those that had come down later through Indonesia and fought, conquered and mixed with the original settlers. There was a distinct difference between the Tasmanian aborigine and the mainland aborigine as the island of Tasmania had been cut off from the mainland sometime after the dispersion of Babel and the inhabiting of Australia.

The aboriginal people were truly a stone-age people. They had no agricultural development, no trade routes, no governmental system, no technology in tools or iron, no written language, and no concept of God. They were a people of deep occult practices, caught in demonic possession, subject to the fear of spirits and darkness. Wars, murders, rapes, child abuse, starvation, and cruelty was a way of life to these people, and in spite of the frantic attempts of modern-day wicked people to rewrite history and present them as peace-loving noble savages the evidence of their evil way of life is plainly seen.

“Australia” is a European concept. The Aborigines knew the earth that they walked on simply as “the land” or “the world” – they had no concept of Australia as a geographic, or continental, entity. It would be more correct to say that the Aborigines belonged to the “Dreamtime” (their name for their occult practices and mythologies), rather than to Australia.

The Aborigines certainly had no concept of Australia as a national entity; they themselves did not constitute a nation, or nations, as – just like the European peoples at a similar Stone Age level of development – they were simply a collection of tribes.

A modern rendering of tribes as “nations” is farcical, if not downright intellectually dishonest, as some writers have a vested interest – whether ideological or sociological – in seeing the status of some native tribes being lifted up to the status of “nations”. No matter whether such tribes referred to are American Indian, Australian Aborigine, European, or whatever. The very concept of “Australia”, and the vision, destiny, and identity of Australian Nationalism, belong solely to the new European people of the “sixth continent”: the Australians.

When Australia was inhabited by the British in 1788 they declared the continent to ‘Terra Nullis’ which is to say it is uninhabited so far as a civilized or organized people and therefore there was no need for the conquest of a people or compensation to be given for the land taken. Such was their view of these original inhabitants.

Of course, as all men are recipients of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the aboriginal people were no different and let me not give any impression that they are anything lesser than you or I or that Christ did not die for these people equally. I merely want to present the sad deplorable state of these people, lost, outside of Christ, and in a state of being reprobate both spiritually and naturally. Truly the arrival of the British was a grace of God that amidst the failures of some who came, there was also amongst them those that brought the glorious light of the gospel to these people.

Whilst the Aboriginal people did help in practical ways to open up the interior through being guides and assistants to the British explorers it is hard to quantify their influence on Australian culture and if there has been an influence it has certainly been a negative one, for their culture to its very core was contrary to all that is truth and righteousness. I don’t just speak this as one who stands outside their culture and observes through a biased view, but rather as one who has spent many years amongst these people and has observed first-hand whilst living with them in their semi-tribal context in the northern parts of Australia. Hearing from them their own rendition of history, and their own understanding of their culture and practices, they have openly and clearly agreed with this presentation that I have given.

The Colonization-Federation Period Of Australia

Australia was colonized on the 26th of January, 1788, but it did not become a nation until 1st January, 1901. Those intervening years between these two dates saw the development of a number of different British colonies on the continent. The first and major colony was that of New South Wales, which was the first colony established and covered the entirety of the east coast. As time went on a number of other colonies were formed in the south, north, and west of the country. Initially, these were all penal colonies and as such, they were harsh places of incarceration and inhabited by those who were criminals. The convicts that were sent to this far land were made up of:

  • English and Welsh (70%)
  • Irish (24%)
  • Scottish (5%)
  • British outposts in India, Canada, Maoris from New Zealand, Chinese from Hong Kong and slaves from the Caribbean (1%)

As an interesting note, there were approximately 1000 Jews amidst the convicts sent. 

As for the political prisoners, these were made up of those who were opposed to the present British rule whether at home in Great Britain or on foreign lands where the British Empire ruled. They were from the Irish rebellion, Scottish rebels, French-Canadian and American Rebels, Chartists, Luddites, and Swing Rioters. Although these made up a minority of the convicts sent here, there was amidst these convicts somewhat of the spirit that came to make up the developing Australian culture.

In 2016 20% of the Australian population could trace their heritage back to convicts.

The birth of Australia as a nation was far from noble, yet amidst it’s crude beginnings, there were bright spots we can attribute to the providential hand of God. There were a number of Godly chaplains sent along with the fleet of convicts and soldiers. Another providence was a number of governors whose vision was to see convicts reformed and transformed to become free settlers.

Convicts and Conscripts – Early Years of Colonization

The early years of colonisation were controlled by military rule and penal law. Although free settlers began arriving in 1793 with the promise of lands and virgin unexplored territory the penal rule of the colonies was to extend to the mid-19th century. It was during this time that the beginnings of part of the Australian culture began to form. Let us call this the ‘rebel element’. There is to be found deeply rooted in Australian culture even to this day a defiant attitude, an undertone of distrust of authority, tradition and position. I believe that in part this attitude finds its beginnings, in the convict heritage of the nation. With so many sent to Australian who were in a bitterness against the authorities that sent them, alongside the political prisoners and those of Irish and Scottish descent who, perhaps already harboured a less than noble view of English rule, there was a distinct culture of irreverence and rejection of authority amongst the people. Even amongst the military this defiant culture took root, as these men were now so far away from the authority and the reach of the seat of power in England and such a distance away from even the reach of her navy there was often a brazen disrespect for authority. This even culminated in a rebellion where the colony of New South Wales was taken over by the military corps and Governor William Bligh was taken prisoner and then sent back to England.

It is then that part of this cultural irreverence came about because of the type of the people that were making up the colony, but also because of the isolation of the country, not just from the rest of the world but also internally it geographically is an isolating country. This is part of the reason that convicts were sent to Australia, because if they did happen to escape their incarceration there was nowhere for them to go and make any sort of life. It truly was a harsh country to be tamed. Throughout these early years the prevailing attitude of those that came to Australia was not one of seeking a place of religious freedom, or a relief from religious oppression It was not one of a desire to evangelise through missionary endeavours, rather it was either because one had been sent here as a military conscript or a convict or that they had come as a free settler looking to forge an opportunity in this harsh new land.

The harshness of the land and the tenacity and pioneering spirit of these early settlers soon became a thing of folklore and legend. Yet amidst it there was not a prevailing spirit of the acknowledgement of God and His grace and His providences amongst this settlement of the country. It becomes evident that whilst many of the people that were settling this country had a noble spirit to them, and were of ‘Christian English stock’ the prevailing spirit that was forming was one of humanism and of the efforts of man. It was becoming known as a place where a person could go and forget their past and ‘make a go of it’.

The last autonomous governor of New South Wales, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, established by law and practice equal social and legal rights for ‘emancipists’, those convicts who either through good behaviour had their sentences commuted or had served their full sentence and had chosen to remain in the country rather than to return to England. To many this is seen as the beginnings of ‘Australian Egalitarianism’ – a trait that has been proudly claimed throughout its history.

The vastness of the country coupled with its isolation and harsh environment was a factor in the forming of a positive aspect of the culture. An aspect that became known as ‘mateship’. It is the willingness and an ingrained necessity to always give someone a ‘hand’ whether or not that person is an acquaintance or not. In a sense it is part of the egalitarian view of society, that all are equal and all are deserving of your friendship and help. A neighbour, a passer-by, a traveller all are to be helped. Then if someone is a friend, a ‘mate’, there is no ends as to what lengths you go to help a mate, or to never leave a mate in trouble. The nature of the birth of the nation and the nature of the country physically has certainly influenced this culture. The culture has continued in time as the nation forged.

The ending of this period of time is seen as the birth of what became known as the Australian spirit of ‘a fair go for all’. We will see as we unfold this paper that this egalitarianism, coupled with the distrust for authority gave rise to a number of characteristics in the Australian culture that extended from a noble spirit of friendship and care for one another to outright socialism at the other end of the extreme. From a humility at one end to an irreverent shamefulness at the other. From a care that would give all men an equal opportunity at one end to an oppression of anyone who was successful at the other extreme. As with all humanistic philosophies, egalitarianism is a two-edged sword that ultimately fails because the sinful heart of man will always degenerate to the bottom of any philosophy no matter how noble its appearance and beginnings.

The Gold Rush – Later Years of Colonization

Australian colonization would come to a turning point in the mid 19th century. Up until now it had been dominated by penal settlements, but with the opening up of rich pasture lands and the surveying further and further into the interior as well as the completion of the circumnavigation and subsequent mapping of the entire coastline for the first time, Australia was quickly being seen as a place of opportunity for those willing to forge out their fortune. I have entitled this era as the ‘Gold Rush’, not just because of the gold discovered across Australia, but also because ‘gold’ was to be found in the agricultural lands, business opportunities. There was relative freedom across the vast land of Australia, which was largely ungoverned. It was this period of time that saw the birth of the ‘Australian’. Up until this time, those that were here were seen as being either British or of a foreign nationality under British captivity, yet now many native-born people inhabited the country and a unique culture and people was being birthed. More than any other time, this era gave rise to the myth and legend of what it meant to be ‘Australian’. This era saw the forging of a culture that was to remain predominant until the latter part of the 20th century.

We must at this point acknowledge the world powers of government and religion that were at play and what effect they had on the formation of this nation in its incubation before its final birth in 1901. Australia was still at this time a handful of British colonies under British rule and as such, much of its governmental and religious influences were coming from Britain. Aside from a free-settler colony in South Australia which was receiving large numbers of Dutch and German settlers, most of the people coming to the country were British. Abroad there was the turmoil of the continual upheavals in France and the battles of the Prussian and Eastern European conflicts, yet this had little to no impact on Australia either culturally or politically. There was also the rise of the prosperity of the new nation of the United States of America and their subsequent civil war. It is hard to quantify the impact of the USA on the formation of Australia, but I would speculate that perhaps the greatest impact on Australia at this time was that the USA was a far more desirable destination for immigrants than Australia. Both for the prospects that were available there naturally and also for those seeking religious freedom and a Christian heritage. So perhaps whilst the USA attracted those that were seeking a Godly government, the colonies of Australia were attracting those who were seeking a more ungoverned land.

As for the religious powers that were at play at this time, we need to recognise that the Philadelphian church age was drawing to a close and that the Federation of Australia was birthed in the first year of the Laodicean church age. Yes, this latter part of the 19th century was the final trimester for the birth of modernism and its ultimate offspring of post-modernism. With Australia taking its lead on matters of Christianity from Britain it is no surprise that the Christian climate closely followed that of the mother country. Albeit with its own unique characteristics that were becoming more and more predominant over its British roots. It is sad to note that Australia never tasted the widespread revivals that swept through Britain and the USA and whilst there were some isolated revivals, there was never anything even closely akin to the Great Awakenings that were experienced on the North American continent. This seems to be largely because, although it was an extension of Britain, the mood and culture of apathy and humanism was already laying hold in Australia even in its early years of conception. This was the unique characteristic of the Australian Christian church, as the society was egalitarian, and irreverent so too the church, rather than stand for an honourability and a militance in truth it tended to be weak and accepting of compromise rather than militant and strong against all compromise. In the early days of the church it was not so much that the church internally did not remain true and pure to doctrines, rather it appeared that there were few men who stood up and preached for their age against the tide of humanism, compromise and socialist egalitarianism that was coming into the church culture. There seemed to be a dislike for separation in protestant churches as this went against the Australian spirit of unity and mateship.

To add to the formation of the Australian culture the later part of the 19th century saw the increase of Catholicism in the country. Whilst in the early years of the colonies there was a concerted effort to minimise the influence and numbers of the catholic church in the Australia, the increase in immigrants and the gold rushes brought many people from Catholic strongholds into the country. Many of the rural towns in Victorian and NSW were heavily populated by Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church gained a strong foothold in the country. This increase in Catholicism brought with it an increase in socialist philosophy and unionism, particularly amongst the working class and rural communities.

The Uniting Of The Colonies

As the 19th century drew to a close the move towards federation in Australia was growing in momentum. Up until this point in time Australia was made up of 6 independent colonies ruled by governors with British authority. Now there was the desire to become one autonomous nation, a federation of these six colonies that would become the 6 states of Australia. What sort of nation would it become?

The prevailing culture of the colonies, although ‘Christian’ as far as it had a British foundation, had become predominantly secular in its philosophy. So as the country came to its federation and the drafting of its constitution and laws, there was a predominant mixture of Christian religion mixed with humanism as its foundation.

Some of the key men who were influential on Australia’s culture during these formative years were the ‘bush poets’. Men such as Henry Lawson and A.B ‘Banjo’ Paterson. These men wrote of the life found in parts of Australia, particularly romanticising the ‘bush’ and its people. They wrote of the hardships of the life, of the people who were taming this ‘wild land’, of the harshness of the country and of the natural forces at play. There was an undertone of human triumph and mateship throughout their writings and writers such as these had an undeniable influence on the culture as it formed towards nationhood.

Another factor in these crucial days, was the fact that Australia was largely an agricultural country, its wealth was ‘riding on the sheep’s back’. This meant that labour and the workforce were of critical importance to the economic stability of the country. As always there were those who would seek to take advantage of workers and treat them unfairly, but there were also those who recognised this critical factor at this time of the history of the country and rousing the allegiances of the ‘underclasses’ strong union movements were formed particularly in the agricultural industry, being spearheaded by the shearers union. This was an early example of egalitarianism which transformed into unionism and as always seems to happen these movements became havens for socialism and socialistic agitations.

On the 1st of January 1901 Australia officially became a federated nation by an act of British Parliament. This independence was won without a fight, without a revolt, without a stand having to be taken. It was an independence that came about as a natural progression through the decline of the British Empire and its realisation that these six colonies had largely become independent and needed to unite for economic and defence security in a region that had many other powers vying for valuable territory. This push for independence also has had a bearing on the Australian culture, in that it was not a revolution of shed blood, protest, or fighting. There was no threat of violence in order to become a nation. It was a rather passive and mild birth of a nation.

The Post-Federation Period

With such a passive independence and birth of a nation it was only natural that the country became very focused on such things as wealth building and the establishment of strong economies. There were no fires that would forge this fledgling nation in its first decade. When the Great War came in 1914 Australia immediately threw itself into the war as a Commonwealth of Britain nation.

World War I

This was the first time that Australians had fought beneath an Australian flag as citizens of their own country. This was to be the only fire that would have a hand in the forging of the nation in its infancy. It was a fire that was not near their shores, and the country itself was never under threat of a direct attack from this war. It was noted of the Australian soldiers that they were men of great courage, men who never let a mate down, but they were men who were irreverent and lacked in protocol and discipline off the battlefield. The war ended with Australian losing 60,000 young men on foreign shores, with 150,000 wounded which for a country of only 4.9m people was quite a hefty cost.

Post World War 1 Economic Growth

The years in between the two world wars saw the country in a recovery from the war and in a period of growth and economic strength. The international movements of the League of Nations were embraced by some in Australia, and there was the growth of a feminist movement in a socialist vein during the 1920’s. There was the rise of the Labour party, which was a socialist party that was founded in the unions. The main opposition to this party was a coalition of the Nationalist Party and the Country Party which were both patriotic and conservative parties. These early political parties saw the foundation of the two opposing ideologies which have filtered down to the political divide even present day.

The government, during this period, instigated what became known as the ‘White Australia’ policy. This was a policy that was intended to protect the country from being overrun by Asians. Whilst there has been much said about this policy and particularly by those who criticise it as being racist, it was an understandable policy considering it was a nation that occupied such a vast land with so few people to defend it, and the Asian neighbours directly to the north of the country outnumbered them by the order of 1000’s to 1. Whilst the culture was at this time still conservative and patriotic in general, we are beginning to see the rise of socialism and ‘anti-isolationist’ culture.

After coming through the ‘Great Depression’ of 1929-1931 the country returned to prosperity. It was during this time that we followed Britain’s lead on dealing with the rising fascist powers through appeasement in order to avert war. This perhaps was a reflection of the rising culture of passivism among the political and intellectual elite that was to become a mark of this part of Australian culture.

World War II

When World War 2 struck Australia again immediately followed Britain into the war, and again she was sending her young men to foreign shores. There was again a great willingness to fight in this war as in the last because the prevailing culture was still one of standing up for that which was right and noble and there were still strong ties to the ‘mother country’ of England. It wasn’t but a few years later and Japan entered the war along with the USA and Australia was now fighting to defend her own shores from this northern invader. Culturally this became a big turning point for the country as well.

Firstly, as a result of the increased interaction with the USA through their presence in the country during the war and the subsequent close alliance after the war there was a huge cultural influence now coming from this nation. Whilst Britain was still the predominant influence, the music, culture, arts, movies and philosophies from the USA gained a strong hold in Australia after this time. 

Secondly, the country had held to a strict immigration policy that was known as the ‘white-Australia policy’ which restrained immigration to those of Anglo-Saxon descent, after the war immigration was opened up particularly to other European and Mediterranean nations. These immigrants brought their own cultures with them which added not only their flavour of culture, but it created tensions with the Australian culture as there was a cultural clash. One of the marked influences of the influx of these immigrants was the increased number of Catholics that came from the European regions such as Greece, Italy and Spain. 

Thirdly, and not acknowledged by secular sources, we see an increase the falling away of true Christianity. The falling away of the Laodicean age only accelerated after WW2 and Australia too saw this accelerated dismantling of truth. The restraint of the church on culture deteriorated with this falling away.

Modern Era

As Australia entered the modern era post-WW2 we find a culture that is in a state of flux and fast leaving its moorings that it had in truth and in Biblical principle. There were many positive aspects to the culture that had developed in the nation to this point. In secular terms these distinguishing marks of the culture became known as ‘mateship’, a ‘fair go’ and the Australian ANZAC spirit.
Let us first look at perhaps a summary of these cultural aspects and then to draw it to a conclusion look at where the culture has come to today and what these traits have morphed into.
Mateship, is the quality that one always stands by a ‘mate’ to the very cost and detriment of one’s own self no matter how hard the going. It is also distinguished by the fact that a ‘mate’ is not limited to a person you know, a mate is a fellow Australian, or an ally that you are standing by. The forces that shaped this were found in the early heritage of the country as convicts and free settlers forged out a life in a harsh and isolated country. Mateship came to be the defining understanding that helped these early pioneers through, not just in a practical sense, but also socially.
One of the key traits of ‘mateship’ was undying loyalty, this is a part of the lore of the early Australian culture, the loyalty of a mate through whatever the circumstance or state of life. When I was a young man whilst touring through California an American veteran of WW2 came to me, when he found out I was Australian, and shook my hand and said I owe an undying debt of gratitude to you Aussies, when I was in WW2 I can tell you there was no one person I would want more down in a foxhole with me than an Aussie, because you knew they would always have your back and never leave you, no matter how bad the lead was flying. He never gave details of what prompted that declaration, but it was a brief conversation that has always stuck with me.

Another, maybe more obscure factor, which seems to have influenced the development of this ‘mateship culture’ was the overriding sense that this fledgling nation had that it was inferior to other nations. This inferiority came about because of its small population size, recent birth in history, convict penal settlement beginning and the fact it was an offspring of another country and never forged its own independence. This inferiority brought the inhabitants of the nation together and it became a common bond. As Australia formed and particularly through the influence of the 2 world wars they came to pride themselves on ‘punching above their weight’ in trade, in politics and in sport against other nations. Culturally a sense of a common cause of forging ahead as a nation helped to promote this ‘mateship’. 

Perhaps the most maligned and forgotten influence on this cultural cornerstone of Australia, is Christianity. As with many of the strengths of western society the very foundations of these strengths of the society find their very foundation and source of strength in the Biblical truths that once underlined these nations. Australian mateship is no exception. John 15:13 ‘Greater love hath no man, than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. Ecclesiastes 4:9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. 

The truth of the society can be found in its Christian beginnings, although a deplorable beginning, this nation was founded by men who believed in God and from a country whose governance was founded in the Bible. It is only natural that the qualities found in the Christian truths of scripture would be found in such a societies culture. It is with time that the nation forgot the founding source of this quality within its culture and began to view this mateship as purely a human quality divorced from its divine source. 

Closely linked to this same mark of the culture is what Australians would term ‘a fair go’. Again this is an aspect of the culture that is strongly touted. It is the principle that all people get the same opportunities no matter their background. It is underlined by this egalitarian thinking that was mentioned earlier in the paper. Its roots are found again in the establishment of the nation as a penal colony with freed convicts and free settlers both receiving the same opportunities in the new land. Australia became known as a place where one could go and start on a level playing field, no matter their standing in society. There is no one person who is better than another, all are equal. This started out as a noble strength of the culture. Again, we can find underlying this Biblical truths and principles of equality of humanity. 

This cultural trait extended into a trait of corporately controlled individual humility. That is, in this equality of a fair go, no man was better than the next, and no man was to think of himself as better than the next. This element of this particular cultural trait finds its roots in a number of factors:

1. As mentioned previously the convict beginnings of the colonies. 

2. The inferiority view of Australia in an international light, as also previously outlined. 

3. The geographical factor in leveling the playing field, in that a person of high standing had the same struggles in this harsh country as the freed convict working a piece of government granted land. 

4. The ruling influences of the early preachers of the colonies. These were men that had been influenced by the Philadelphia church age and perhaps in this new land that was somewhat freed of the shackles of the British hierarchical presence, due to the extreme isolation, gave them the freedom to promote the truths that had inspired the working classes of England under the preaching of Wesley and Whitfield. I believe this influenced the view that every man is to be responsible and to work diligently with his own hands and to walk humbly before his God. These factors are not readily found in the written history of the country, but one cannot deny the very influences of Biblical truth in these traits. 

These strong traits of the Australian culture are not the only ones to be found in the culture, some other particular traits of strong competitiveness and of an underdog preference also are deeply ingrained in the Australian way. The ‘underdog mentality’ is that a person will more often support the underdog, or the weaker entity in a struggle often times bereft of who is in the right or even if the weaker entity is not of their own country. I think of a secular example of when Australia had so many good cricket players that they entered a second team in an international cricket competition to give some of the younger players a chance to have some experience. When it came to the final the two Australian teams had beat all the other teams and were to face off against each other. The majority of Australians barracked for the second team because they were the underdogs, even though the first team were one of the greatest Australian teams to have played and certainly had earned the right to be supported by the public. But such was the Australian ‘underdog’ mentality.

Many of these described aspects of the culture combine to give a what is described as a ‘relaxed’ or ‘informal’ and welcoming feel to Australian society. Perhaps one of the iconic phrases of Australia might sum up the spirit of this culture. ‘She’ll be right mate’ would have to be one of the most used and iconic phrases of the country. It basically means that whatever the situation is, it will be ok, it will work out. It is meant to put someone at ease with the situation, to be relaxed or comfortable with it. 

Another word used to describe Australian culture is “laconic”. In that it lacks frills, it is minimal on fuss, it is minimal on tradition and ritual. It is a very basic culture that does not have a lot of flair or emotion to it. This is seen in many aspects of society including government and business. In reading a guide to Australian business recently it was interesting to note that the guidance included the instructions that “Australians are only interested in the basic facts, do not dramatize your presentations, or add hype to them, this does not impress.” It is said that perhaps the only times that Australians really become passionate is during sport and in war time.

The Present Australian Culture

As with anything that leaves truth and is guided by man the Australian culture has deteriorated and the very traits which were perhaps at one time a strength have turned to become a weakness. If you had to describe modern Australian culture I believe it would be described as a ‘Pluralistic, socialistic, apathetic, modernistic progressive culture’. 

Its once noble ‘fair go’ attitude has degenerated into a pluralistic view of acceptance of all perversions and cultures and a rejection of the absolute truths of Christianity. What was perhaps once an honourable desire to give equality to all has been destroyed by the sin of a nation and is now deteriorated into little more than democratic socialism. The press to ensure that the common working people were not taken advantage of by others led to unionism and this led to socialism and the rise of the Australian Labour party which is a socialist party.
The good desire to allow freedom for that which was right and truth has now been overcome by an evil desire to allow for everything except for that which is in a purity of truth and right. These core aspects of the culture have been changed through the governmental control of education and media. Often times these very evil changes that have been brought in, such as ‘same sex marriage’, ‘anti-discrimination’ legislation targeting Christianity, have been brought in at least in part by a deceitful appealing to a twisted perversion of the ‘Australian way’ of a fair go. Painting minority groups as the poor oppressed underdogs which need to be protected at the expense of the freedom of truth and righteousness. 

This culture of mateship and fair-go has also been cited as cause for the pluralistic view of immigration. During the 1960’s and 70’s successive governments dismantled the protective laws of immigration and opened up the country to immigration from Asia and the Middle-East. Then in the late 1970’s the Australian government declared Australia to be a ‘multi-cultural society’. This terminology in itself is a misnomer, as culture is the singular unique traits of a society, so how can it be multi? From that time on, Australia, particularly in its major cities became a social experiment and a melting pot of cultural ideologies and views. To say that this experiment is a failure is an understatement. Rather than becoming a harmonious society Australia has become a fragmented segregated clash of opposing ideologies, moralities, and cultures. Perhaps the only thing that has kept this powder keg from exploding is the apathy of the original Australian culture.
The reserved humility of the culture and ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude that may have come from good sources eventually degenerated into an apathy and degraded view of living. 

Australians, it is said, have a very dry sense of humour that is more often than not self-deprecating and cuttingly satirical, they have a great propensity to laugh at themselves. Whilst this may not seem such a bad thing on the surface and a good dose of humility and ability to laugh at yourself is a great asset, this again has deteriorated into a degenerated view of living. 

There is very little nobility in the living of Australians. Their dress, their speech, their mannerisms have deteriorated from laconic to debased. In international travels it is very easy to pick out most Australians, they are the ones wearing a t-shirt, board shorts and a pair of thongs, all part of the ‘relaxed lifestyle’ look of Australia. Whilst climate and the type of work that was required in working the land has influenced the clothing culture in Australia, much of the recent trends in dress have been dictated by this relaxed informal culture. Again, there is much good which can be said about the un-pretentious culture of the Australian, but it has declined to an apathy. This apathy has paralyzed the people and the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude has now come to rule far beyond that which is reasonable. The manner of the people is, as long as my lifestyle and enjoyment is not prohibited I am not really going to be bothered with what the government is legislating or what deterioration of society there is. In this state the nation has steadily been directed into the humanistic and pluralistic state that it finds itself today. I have heard it said that Australians play at religion and worship their sport. This is probably a true statement, when it comes to matters of right and truth, there is certainly an apathy. 

There was once a time when it was said of Australians that they won’t react until their backs are against the wall, but when they come out to stand and fight they will stand like no other. I believe today that the present age has so overcome the prevailing culture of Australia, that even when they have been pushed through the wall they will not stand for anything worth standing for. 

The once noble view of loyalty and friendship that is termed colloquially mateship, whilst still seen perhaps in ways of natural human goodness towards one another, has also fallen victim to the degeneration of sin and oft times this mateship is little more than drunken socializing and the satisfying of social desires for leisure. I believe that if Australia ever had to go to war to defend themselves there would be no true nobility in its men and women on the battlefield like there once was. 

Sin has laid waste to the very fabric of the Australian society and culture. What was once a land of opportunity has now become a nation of people seeking for little more than pleasure and fulfillment of their own desires and lusts. I have a deep love and affinity for the noble aspects of Australian culture, but even in my own lifetime I have seen the radical change of what these traits once were. A natural apostasy has laid hold of the Australian culture. 

May the Lord raise up a remnant of people who allow the culture of Christ and His Word to rule their lives who may stand in the harsh land for His glory in these last days.


• “Interwar Years, The Commonwealth, History, Australia, Oceania – propaganda slogan, United Australia Party, Scullin, Country Party, economic depression” –

• “The Australian Interwar Years: A Palette For New Cultural Imagination” – Collage

• “White Australia Policy Research Papers” –

• “Interwar Feminism in Australia and the League of Nations · Interwar Internationalism: An Archival History”




• “Culture and political party ideology in Australia” – Katya Johanson

• “The Gospel and Australian Culture” – Peter Roennfeltd

Jeremy Searle

Jeremy Searle