What does it mean to be an Australian?: The perceptions of students, senior and prominent Australians

Year: 2005

Author: Craven, Rhonda, Purdie, Nola

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The question "What does it mean to be an Australian?" has significant implications for understanding factors contributing to social cohesion; explaining and promoting ourselves to others; imagining and shaping Australia's future; and shaping civics curriculum. The purpose of this study is to identify, and compare and contrast key components of Australian national and social identity of a sample of Australians (N = 486) comprised of primary (N=71); secondary (N=146), Technical and Further Education (TAFE) (N=59) and University (n=142) students, Senior Australians (n=21), and Prominent Australians (n= 47). Participants completed a written response to the question "What does it mean to be Australian?" Responses were analysed and coded by two coders using content analysis to identify key themes. Key themes identified were analysed separately for each category of participants and compared. Results indicated progressive and traditional notions of Australian national identity. Traditional themes include: Citizenship and Participation, Patriotism and Pride, Personal Attributes, Unique Aspects and lifestyle, Mateship, and the notion of a Fair Go for all. Progressive notions included themes such as Societal Characteristics, and Respect for Other Cultures suggesting that some aspects of national identity may be changing.