In 2012 Australia’s population was approximately 23 million. Australia is divided into six states: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia and two territories: Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The Australian flag was designed after the federation of the Australian States into the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January, 1901.
The Australian flag consists of three main elements:
The Union flag (also known as the Union Jack) in the top left quarter which represents Australia’s historical links with Great Britain.
The Commonwealth Star or Star of Federation, in the bottom left has seven points for the six states and the combined territories of the Commonwealth. The seventh point was added in 1909.
The Southern Cross on the right side represents the constellation of the Southern Cross which is a significant navigational feature of the southern hemisphere, and strongly places Australia geographically.
Queensland is often called the Sunshine State. It is the second largest of the states of Australia and has a population of approximately 4.6 million. Queensland covers an area approximately the same size as Texas in the United States of America.
The majority of Queensland’s population lives in the cities and towns along the coastline. It can take a long time to get from one town to another and many Queenslanders will travel for up to four hours for one weekend.
For more tourist information, visit some of the websites listed in Enjoy Living in Queensland page, or see a tourist information centre or visitor centre in any Queensland city.
Queensland has a wonderful climate with summer temperatures that are high but not usually uncomfortable due to
moderate humidity levels and mild winters with fine sunny days and cool nights and early mornings.
People and lifestyle
Queenslanders are friendly, outgoing people who are known for their casual attitude and approachability. It will be easy for you to learn much about your homestay family and friends by spending time talking with them. Most people are keen to share information about themselves and their lifestyle with you.
Australia is a multicultural society and as a result the ‘Australian culture’ is an interesting blend of Indigenous Australian, European, Asian, North and South American, Middle Eastern and African cultures.
In Queensland you will have the opportunity to hear about different cultures, meet people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, hear languages other than English being spoken and sample food from all over the world.
Acceptance of cultural diversity is very important to Australian people and the Australian Government. Racism is not tolerated.
All Queenslanders are entitled to equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities regardless of their cultural, ethnic or religious background and discrimination on these grounds is illegal.
There is total freedom of religion throughout Australia. As people from other cultures settled here, they introduced a range of religious denominations and practices including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. All of these and other religions, including Indigenous religions are practised around Australia. There are also families and individuals in Australia who do not actively practise any religion.
If you have special religious needs please discuss these with your education agent who will then pass on the information.
In Australia over 200 different languages and dialects are spoken, including 45 Indigenous languages. The most commonly spoken languages (other than English) are Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic and Mandarin.
Respect for others is an important part of Australian culture.
This involves displaying general good manners towards others regardless of age, gender or social status, and being helpful where possible. In the Australian culture, it is extremely disrespectful to talk or interrupt while others are speaking. It is also considered rude to talk through movies and other kinds of public performances.
In the Australian culture it is oK to say that you don’t understand and to ask questions. At school, teachers will think you are listening and trying hard if you ask questions about their subject. To most Australians, asking questions shows that you are interested in what they are saying.
You may be surprised to hear people laughing loudly at home and in public and most Australians do not cover their mouths when they laugh.
Australians are accustomed to having a lot of personal space and standing too close may cause them to feel pressured and uncomfortable. Many Australians will use their finger to point to something or someone, this may be surprising to you but do not be offended by it.
General good manners in Australia includes:
Shaking hands is the polite thing to do when first meeting someone. In more familiar relationships, people may hug, give kisses on the cheek or pats on the shoulder or back
Knocking on a door before entering a room
Asking before using other people’s property, for example: using the telephone, turning on the television, or using the computer
Making eye contact when speaking to someone and when spoken to. This is important for most Australians and is especially the case at school where a teacher may think you are rude or are not listening if you do not make eye contact with them
Punctuality is important in Australia and if you are not able to attend a pre-arranged meeting you should always notify the other person/people
Placing your knife and fork together on the plate when you finish a meal
Using a tissue or handkerchief to blow your nose
Not going in front of someone who is in a queue or waiting to cross the road
Obeying the pedestrian traffic signals. Do not cross the road unless at a designated crossing
It is never okay to spit in Australia. It is illegal to spit on the street and in public places. You can be fined if you do this
It is not necessary to remove shoes when indoors; however in some houses you may be asked to do so.
TIP: Australians are friendly people and often the best thing to remember is to offer a smile. A smile means happiness or friendship and does not usually indicate that the person is nervous