Australian Culture


  • People are rarely criticised if someone fails to observe formal etiquette (e.g. forgetting to dress smartly). Commenting on someone’s poor manners can be seen as pretentious or stuck up.
  • Moderate swearing is common among friends and is not always considered rude.
  • Women are seen as capable individuals who can help themselves. Therefore, it is not considered wholly necessary for men to open car doors (etc.) for women. Doing so is recognised as very polite and courteous, but can also sometimes be seen as patronising depending on the circumstance.
  • When out to eat or for a drink, split bills equally by having people pay only for the food and drink they’ve ordered. It is a common practice to buy ‘rounds’ of drinks while out with a group. If it is your round, you are expected to buy drinks for everyone you are with. Each individual who receives a drink will be expected to pay for at least one round.
  • Being reluctant to part with cash or share food or drink is seen as ‘stingy’ if other people have paid their share. Furthermore, asking friends to pay for you on more than one occasion is seen as ‘scabbing’ and creates a bad reputation.
  • Being overdressed for a gathering is sometimes considered more embarrassing than being underdressed.
  • It is considered impolite to ask a direct question about someone’s salary, wealth, weight or age.
  • Spitting in public is rude.
  • If there is a line for something, always queue and wait for your turn.
  • To call over a waiter or person of service, do not wave or yell. Instead, keep an eye out for them until they make eye contact, and then nod or raise your hand. You can also gently say “excuse me” as they pass by.
  • Tipping is not necessary in restaurants or places of service in Australia. People rarely leave tips or only do so if they received service that was exceedingly excellent.
  • Always say please when asking someone for help or a favour or you will come across as rude.
  • Punctuality is important in Australia, and people stick to the appointments, engagements and meetings they schedule. If someone expects they will be more than 10 minutes late, they usually text or call the person to let them know in advance. That being said, punctuality has more importance in professional settings than in social ones. Friends will forgive tardiness so long at it is not a reoccurring pattern.

  • People usually visit one another simply for the company and conversation with the primary purpose being socialisation, not feasting. Thus, Australians sometimes find it awkward and overly-formal when people prepare a large amount food for their visit or are extreme in their hospitality during the visit. For example, they don’t naturally expect a tour of someone’s house.
  • Arrange a visit before going to an Australian’s house. Do not arrive unannounced or bring friends and family along unless you’ve asked them beforehand.
  • Ask the host ahead of time whether or not they would like you to bring a contribution (i.e. food or drink). It is common to bring a carton of beer or some other alcohol when visiting a friend.
  • Avoid arriving early to one’s house.
  • It is usually okay to be 10 to 15 minutes late to a small gathering of people. However, if you are meeting at a restaurant, it is important to be punctual as people will wait for you to order their food.
  • Being late is more acceptable to parties and large social gatherings.
  • Australians often host barbeques (BBQs) in which they dine informally in their outdoor areas (e.g. verandas, patios, gardens) and cook meat on their BBQ. When multiple people are invited it is sometimes expected that guests will contribute a dish to compliment the meat (e.g. a fresh salad). This is sometimes referred to as ‘bringing a plate’.
  • For parties or large gatherings, the host will tell guests whether they will supply the alcohol or if guests should bring their own drinks (BYO).
  • If you visit an Australian home, you may not always receive a tour of the house, and many of the doors may be closed out of privacy.
  • Avoid overstaying your welcome by remaining at an Australian’s home longer than they expected unless they urge you to stay.
  • To indicate that you have finished eat your meal, lay your knife and fork down on the plate together. You may leave a small amount of food on your plate or clear it as neither should offend your host.
  • If someone asks if you would like more food, it is okay to decline or accept depending on how hungry you are. Neither is considered rude.
  • Offer to help clean up the meal with your host.

  • Gifts are usually only given on special occasions (e.g. birthdays, Christmas).
  • People tend to open gifts in front of the giver, either upon receiving them or later along with other presents.
  • Recipients do not usually expect to receive gifts of a high monetary value, but rather that the gift will reflect their interests.
  • Token gifts may be given when visiting a house (e.g. beer, wine, chocolate).
Cultural Competence Program
Cultural Competence Program Logo

Join over 300 organisations already creating a better workplace

Find out more
Download this Cultural Profile

Too busy to read it right now?

You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.

  • Population
    [2016 census]
  • Median Age
    [2016 census]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    English (72.7%)
    Mandarin (2.5%)
    Arabic (1.4%)
    Cantonese (1.2%)
    Vietnamese (1.2%)
    [2016 census]
    Note: More than 300 languages were identified in total.
  • Religion
    Christianity (51.6%)
    Catholic (22.6%)
    Anglican (13.3%)
    Other Christian (16.3%)
    Note: More than 100 religions were identified in total.
  • Cultural Dimensions
  • Ancestry
    English (33.6%)
    Australian (31.2%)
    Irish (10.2%)
    Scottish (8.6%)
    Chinese (5.2%)
    Italian (4.3%)
    German (4.2%)
    Indian (2.6%)
    [2016 census]
    Note: More than 300 ancestries were identified in total.
Indigenous Australia
  • Population
    2.8% of Australian population
    [2016 census]
  • Average Age
    [2016 census]
  • Language
    According to the 2016 census, 1 in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak an Australian Indigenous language at home.
    The five language groups most widely spoken at home are:
    Arnham Land & Daly River Region (16.1%)
    Torres Strait Island (11.7%)
    Western Desert (11.1%)
    Yolngu Matha (10.6%)
    Arandic (7.3%)
    Note: 150 Australian Indigenous languages were identified in total.
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (33.3%)
    Queensland (28.7%)
    Western Australia (11.7%)
    Northern Territory (9.0%)
    Victoria (7.4%)
    South Australia (5.3%)
    Tasmania (3.6%)
    Australian Capital Territory (1.0%)
    [2016 census]
Migrant Australia
  • Population
    6,150,197 people born overseas
    26.4% of Australian population
    [2016 census]
  • Top Overseas Birthplaces
    United Kingdom (4.6%)
    New Zealand (2.2%)
    China (2.2%)
    India (1.9%)
    Philippines (1.0%)
    Vietnam (0.9%)
    Italy (0.7%)
    South Africa (0.7%)
    Malaysia (0.6%)
    Sri Lanka (0.5%)
    Born elsewhere (11.1%)
    [2016 census]
  • Fastest Growing Migrant Populations
    By Population Change
    China (+190,586)
    India (+160,027)
    Philippines (+61,153)
    New Zealand (+35,068)
    Vietnam (+34,316)
    Pakistan (+31,692)
    Nepal (+30,119)
    South Korea (+24,238)
    Iran (+23,658)
    Sri Lanka (+23,437)
    By Percentage Change
    Mongolia (+240.5%)
    Bhutan (+142.4%)
    Nepal (+122.3%)
    South Sudan (+120.9%)
    Pakistan (+104.9%)
    Brazil (+90.4%)
    Nigeria (+87.8%)
    Qatar (+84.3%)
    Syria (+82.6%)
    Iran (+68.7%)
Country Flag Country Australia