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People and Culture

You’re moving to Australia so here’s what to expect.

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

Depending on where you are in Australia, you could look out of your window to see a desert, a tropical rainforest, a mountain range, a country town or a modern city. Australia is made up of many varied landscapes, which you will hopefully have a chance to explore.

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

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

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

English is the official language of Australia, but more than 300 languages are spoken across the country, including Arabic, Greek, Italian and Mandarin. Plus you’ll 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).

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

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

The four main seasons in Australia are:

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

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

Politics and government
The Commonwealth of Australia (the country’s official name) is both a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy.

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

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

Individual states are able to make their own laws over matters separate to the Commonwealth. They have their own constitution and government structure. The Australian territories are self-governed, but their powers are decided by the Commonwealth.

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

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