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People and Culture

You’re moving to Australia. Here’s what to expect.

Even if you haven’t been to Australia before, you’d probably recognise it on a map. It’s the world’s largest island - surrounded by the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans – but it’s also the world’s smallest continent.

Depending on where you are in Australia, you might look out your window to see a desert, a tropical rainforest, a mountain range, a country town or a modern city.  It’s a country made up of many different landscapes, which you will hopefully get the chance to explore.

Daily life in Australia

Australia is home to more than 24 million people, spread out across six states and two major mainland territories, each with their own capital city.

The most popular cities to live are Sydney – home to the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House - and Melbourne, which was named the world’s most liveable city for the seventh time in a row in 2016.

A multicultural country

Australian cities are quite diverse. You will likely meet people from many different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, including Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands people.  The Aboriginal culture is an important part of Australia’s national identity.

While English is the official language of Australia, more than 300 languages are spoken throughout country. This includes Mandarin, Italian, Arabic and Greek. You might also hear Aboriginal influences through words like boomerang and kangaroo.

Australians also have their own unique form of slang, so you’ll soon become familiar with words like g’day (hello), ‘bloke’ (man) and barbie (barbeque).

Weather

The weather in Australia changes based on where you live and the time of year. You could be rugged up for below-zero temperatures in the Snowy Mountains one day, and wearing heavy sun protection in Western Australia’s Kimberley region the next.

The four main weather seasons in Australia are:

  • Summer (December to February)
  • Autumn (March to May)
  • Winter (June to August)
  • Spring (September to November)

If you’re looking to plan a holiday, remember your mid-year break will be in winter and your longer end-of-year break (including Christmas) is in summer.

Politics and government

The Commonwealth of Australia (as it’s officially named) is a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy.

The rules of government are set out in the Australian Constitution, with power divided between the Federal Government and six state governments.

The Australian Parliament passes laws which affect the whole country, and is made up of the Queen of England (represented by the Governor-General), the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Individual states can make their own laws over matters separate to the Commonwealth, and have their own constitution and government structure.  Australian territories are generally self-governed, but their powers are decided by (and can be changed by) the Commonwealth.

The six states and the Northern Territory also have one further level of local government (or local councils) which look after community needs like waste collection and town planning.

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