Home' Studies in Australia : Studies in Australia 2017 Contents 32
Culture and society
Australia's vibrant multiculturalism stems
from a combination of Indigenous cultures,
early European settlement and mass
Australia is proud of the diversity of its
people and enjoys the variety of different
cultures and foods that this provides.
Australia is also a secular country, meaning
that there is no official religion. Each
capital city has places of worship for
religions from around the world. Australians
value freedom, diversity, equality and
The earliest human population arrived on
the Australian continent more than 40,000
years ago when Indigenous tribes migrated
from a region of Asia. Australia's Indigenous
people have the oldest living cultural history
in the world. Indigenous communities keep
their cultural heritage alive by passing their
knowledge, arts, rituals and performances
from one generation to another; speaking
and teaching languages; protecting
cultural materials; and looking after sacred
and significant sites such as Uluru in the
European exploration of Australia began
in 1606 when a Spanish navigator sailed
through the Torres Strait, which separates
Australia from Papua New Guinea.
Dutch, Portuguese and British explorers
followed and began to map the continent.
The European settlement of Australia
commenced in 1788 when the British
established a penal colony at Botany
Bay --- now Sydney, the largest city in
Australia. The colony grew as free settlers
and migrants arrived in Australia hoping to
make a better life.
Australia's climate varies greatly across the
country. About 40 per cent of the northern
part of the country lies in the tropics,
which experiences a distinct wet season
(December to March) and dry season (May
to October). The climate in the southern
part of the country is temperate, with cool
winters, hot summers and four distinct
seasons. Australia is in the Southern
Hemisphere, so the summer months are
December, January and February, while the
winter months are June, July and August.
Nearly 90 per cent of Australians live
around the country's coastal edges, where
ocean breezes bring the temperature down.
Australia is so large that it enjoys a range
of climatic conditions and geographical
regions --- from dry deserts to snowy alpine
areas and rainforests.
Australia is a democracy and vigorous
debate is a strong part of the political
process. All Australians aged over 18 are
required to vote in local, state and federal
elections. The Commonwealth of Australia
is a constitutional monarchy under a
parliamentary democracy, and the formal
head of state is the United Kingdom's
Queen Elizabeth II. The leader of the
government is known as the Prime Minister.
The Commonwealth Government governs
the whole of Australia, and the Australian
Constitution defines its responsibilities.
Responsibilities include matters of quarantine,
defence, telecommunications, taxes and
Australia is truly unique --- it is the biggest island on Earth and also the world's sixth largest
country. Australia's population currently stands at approximately 24 million people, with
about a quarter of the population born overseas.
welfare. You can find more information
about the Australian Government at
www.australia.gov.au. Each state and
territory government works in cooperation
with the Australian Government and
is responsible for areas such as police,
education, roads and transport. Local
governments are responsible for matters
such as garbage collection, recreation
facilities and building regulations.
The Australian flag
The official Australian flag was designed in
1901, when Australia's six colonies became
a federation. The Union Jack represents
Australia's links to England. The large
seven-pointed star represents the states
and territories. The five stars on the right
represent the Southern Cross constellation,
which you can see in the Australian night
sky. The Indigenous Australian flag and the
Torres Strait Islander flag are also officially
recognised as flags of Australia.
Links Archive Studies in Australia 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page