Who Is a ‘Real’ Australian: the Story Behind Larrikins, That Critically Reflects on the Aspects of the Australian Experience and Culture That They Embody
Is it thongs, the beach and the sun? Or Flies, kangaroos and the bush? Images such as these have been used to describe Australia for decades, however do they truly encapsulate the Australian national identity? The typical Aussie has been described as "male, easy going, fair and democratic, having a healthy disrespect for authority, and a dry laconic humor" Yet when we observe the Australian society many of these images contradict reality. During the 1990's social psychologists have stated Australia is facing an identity crisis , and if this is so where does this leave the Australian image today?
The Australian Aboriginals were the first migrants of Australia, and they lived and created the first Australian lifestyle.. The author, Kath Walker uses parallelism in the form of ‘No more’, which represents how much of the Aboriginal culture has been lost and has come to stop because of the new customs and traditions implemented by the Anglo-Saxons which entitles a new civilized culture. This notion is reinforced in the third stanza of the poem through repetition of ‘No more’ in the line, “No more sharing of food”. This stanza refers to how the Aboriginals are now no longer following their old customary lifestyles and instead are slowly familiarizing themselves to the new British way of life. It is unmistakable that the Aboriginal’s had a problematic period adapting to the new way of life installed by the British. However because of the British colonization we are now a country equal to Britain and one that provides all its citizens with a good life. Nevertheless a new wave of migrants arrived from southern Europe and thus cultural diversity started in schools around Australia. But this wasn’t always a good thing as a migrant child wrote in ‘But I was born here, Miss’. Australian migrant children went through troublesome obstacles at school because of their ethnicities. In this poem the author has used the repetition of the motif, ‘’But I was born here, Miss’’ to emphasize how the child is still seen as a migrant even though he claims as being born in Australia. It further highlights how unaccepted a child was because of his or her cultural background which is supported by the rhetorical question “Where do I live?”. In addition, the rhetorical question gives further insights into how the migrant child did not feel like he belonged because of his differences between the other children. This intolerance led to a clash between the cultures which caused fights and misunderstandings at schools across Australia. It is therefore evident that Australian migrant children endured harsh circumstances at school because of their ethnicities and the intolerance of the Australian born children. Maybe due to the fact of this intolerance many migrant children didn’t regard themselves as an Australian. Maybe they simply did not want to be associated with a group of people that could not accept someone for whom he or she truly is. In time however the two cultures would learn to live with each other and create a tolerant society as apparent in Tim Winton’s ‘Neighbours’.
Furthermore, having “Angloness” was regarded as something important in the nineteenth century as people coming from other parts of the world (or simply non-British people) tended to pertain to lower classes (Hage 1998, p. 211). Thus, apart from ethnicity, ‘Angloness’ was closely connected with the social status of a person. More so, Maynard (2007) stresses that ethnicity has played a key role in movements for the rights of Black and Aboriginal people who wanted to gain equal rights with more privileged ethnic groups. Elder (2007) also stresses that the tension between white and non-white Australians persists even today. Ethnic identity in such a diverse society cannot be the only constituent of the national identity as it tends to bring discord within the state rather than unite people. Social class identity is also an element of the Australian national identity. Hage (1998) stresses that ethnicity in Australia is closely connected with social status as those having ‘Angloness’ had more opportunities than people coming from other cultural backgrounds. There was (and sometimes the trend persists) certain prejudice, and white people had an advantage compared to other nations. For instance, Hage (1998, p. 211) refers to a man who stresses that even though he “maybe not much better off than” any other person, he has “an essence/identity” that gives him “the possibility of accumulating more capital.” Admittedly, social inequality contributes to the tension within Australian society, making it torn into different subgroups. Religion is another element of the Australians’ national identity. White (1981) notes that Protestants who came to the continent set major dogmas which still prevail in the society.
In either case, The importance of larrikinism to journalism’s professional practice and public responsibility cannot be emphasized enough. As Mill (1859) said, the “struggle between liberty and authority” is “the most conspicuous feature” throughout history. In a liberal democratic society such as Australia, it is journalism that is charged with the responsibility of protecting liberty against authority. However, as the architects of liberal democracy noted, this freedom is in a constant state of vulnerability. Consequently, we think it is clear that Australian journalism requires larrikinism to vouchsafe a work culture that can uphold its public duty.
Crotty, M 2001, The limits of manliness. Web.
Elder, C 2007, Being Australian: narratives of national identity, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.
Hage, G 1998, White nation: fantasies of white supremacy in a multicultural society, Psychology Press, Annandale, NSW.
Huntsman, L 2001, Sand in our souls: the beach in Australian history, Melbourne University Publish, Carlton, Victoria.
Maynard, J 2007, Fight for liberty and freedom: the origins of Australian aboriginal activism, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, ACT.
White, R 1981, Inventing Australia: images and identity, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.