My Indian friends and colleagues often talk about our Aussie cricketers – skills so good but sledging so bad, very blunt yet charming as well. Some go on to talk about how casual we Aussies are, even when meeting the elite.
I think we Australians remain something of a mystery to most Indians.
So, here is my take on what is in our hearts (or what are our values) – yes, we have time to reflect in this era of Covid-19.
I like to outline four characteristics of Australians:
- Give everyone a “fair go”
- All should be treated equally, and have equal opportunity
- Be casual and friendly and say “G’day mate” to complete strangers
- Be confident that “we’ll be right” – we have always found a way to bounce back
These four – the casual friendliness, the fair go, egalitarianism and resilience – have defined what it is to become Australians, and in these concepts is the heart of what has attracted so many to our shores.
Of course, we do not always stick by these values.
Look how the arrival of a few desperate families in leaking boats led many to abandon the fair go, as if it never existed.
In the face of wars, bushfires, floods, droughts, financial depressions and more, we have unpacked our casual bravado (she’ll be right mate) and found a way through.
You might not know Australia was founded by the British to house their convicts. Not a great start – but out of this has come a free and open society with sophisticated cities, world leading agribusinesses and services the envy of many.
Out of the humble beginning of convicts came a society that strives to be all inclusive – whether you are thousands of miles from anyone, you should still have a phone, an education and so on.
As the convicts would have understood, freedom is more than the right to vote. These values have made Australia a genuinely free society – for they underpin that greatest of freedoms, to be whoever you are and whoever you want to be.
Now, if only we could bring ourselves to truly understand the minds of Indians.