The True Australian: Of Ethnic Pride and Nationalistic Identity

The True Australian: Of Ethnic Pride and Nationalistic Identity

According to World Fact Books of Statistics, the ethnic groups in Australia is approximately 92% Australian and Caucasian, 7% Asian, 1% Aboriginal and others. Below is the pie graph to view the breakdown of ethnic groups. [1]eg-in-australia

This graph clearly represents the diversity of ethnic groups in Australia. In the study of history and culture, we have seen the role of immigrants in bringing both development and challenges in economic and political growth. From the time of the aborigines to the colonialization of the English and finally to the formation of the multicultural nation, Australia takes the fusion of cultural, historical, social, economic, political, and even geographical to a certain degree of what we refer to as nationalism. In this context, nationalism is both civic and ethnic [2] – primarily can be constructed with the land border, unity in language, built on shared written history, education and establishment of cultural artifacts.

The Aussies have used this opportunity to unite as a whole and to declare the pride of nationalism in “Australia Day” every January 26th.

United in Australia Day

Every January 26th, the whole of Australia celebrate the foundation day or First Landing Day. [3] This day symbolizes many aspects in the rise of nationalism for every Aussie. The Australia Day website presented a timeline of events on how it became historic and truly instrumental in why it is necessary to be proud to be an Australian during this day. To validate their sense of pride, we take a quick look on key instruments of nationalism.

Aborigines (Australoids or Indigenous people of Australia)

The Aborigines were the primary settlers many years ago before the 1700s where they traveled from Africa to Asia. Per the study of Professor Willerslev from University of Copenhagen, the Australian Aborigines were the “oldest continuous culture in the planet”. [4] Their culture and values were tormented upon the invasion of colonial Britain in the 1700s. Somehow, the consciousness of Aborigines as part of Australia have deployed them to ethnic conflict and resulted to mistreatment and unacceptance in the society.  As there were limits to human freedom and rights to land ownership, the ability to adapt to the hegemonic society was inevitably out of reach.

Aboriginals in their fight to keep their identity. Image from Google

In an effort to preserve the culture and ethnicity of Aborigines, they stood up and fought for their rights. On May 27, 1967, they were formally legalized as Australian citizens. Below is an excerpt.

The government abandoned its previous policy of “assimilation” of the aboriginals, recognizing the uniqueness of aboriginal culture and the right of the aboriginals to determine their own patterns of development. From the passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act in 1976 to mid-1990, aboriginals in the Northern Territory were given ownership of about 34% of territorial lands (461,486 sq km or 178,180 sq mi). The South Australia state government and its aboriginals also signed a land-rights agreement, and similar legislation was developed in other states during the 1980s. [5]

The role of becoming citizens was an integral part of the development of the national culture. Their sense of pride as indigenous people and continuing the ancestral culture, which can be seen in art, museums and even music.

Below is the short video on the story of Aborigines.

Advance Australia Fair

With the British colonial influence, it has been a tradition to sing “God Save The Queen” as the national anthem for typical Australians. Up until 1984, when it was declared after heated debates in 1970s, that it will be replaced by the new anthem composed by Peter McCormick, ”Advance Australia Fair”. [6]

Below is a short video of the Advance Australia Fair.

The song is a symbol of self-determination and uplifts the spirits of Australians. It marks a strong nationalistic sense of pride and detachment from the British dependence.

The End of White Australia Policy

During the inception of the federation in 1901, the following act was passed – Immigration Act of 1901. The act established strict control on the entries of non-European in Australia. It was assumed that the reason for the act was to avoid any possible invasion within the colony. It was eventually called “The White Australia policy”, to remove the “colored men” and bring “white men in”. For those already residing in Australia, mostly Chinese, they had to obtain the Certificate of Exemption Dictation Test” – where upon arrival, each immigrant was required to pass the English language test. This created some tension with the issue of racism.

Sample of the Certificate Exempting From Dictation Test.

In 1958 years after WWII, the global expansion has stopped the act from being administered. By 1975, the Racial Discrimination Act was passed to allow migrants not to be assessed of entry due to ethnicity or race. [7]

The Nationalistic Pride

It was the cricket game against England. A game where the English have dominated. The day ended when the drought ended for the Aussies (Ashes), in 7 runs. It became a turning point for a country that was a colony, had brought victory against the colonizers. Winning had brought honor and pride and eventually led to the Federation. [8]

Sport. Cricket. 1882. One of the most famous sporting trophies, The Ashes. It was in 1882 after the bowling of "Demon" Spofforth and Boyle had bowled England out for 77 and brought off a seemingly impossible Australian victory by 7 runs, that the Ashes we
Sport, Cricket, 1882, One of the most famous sporting trophies, The Ashes, It was in 1882 after the bowling of “Demon” Spofforth and Boyle had bowled England out for 77 and brought off a seemingly impossible Australian victory by 7 runs, that the Ashes were created, In the “Sporting Times” the following epitaph appeared: In affectionate Remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval on 29th August 1882. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

In the context of globalization and nationalism, the transition of “White Australia” to “Diverse Australia” has reformed the scenery of what it means to be an Australian. The essence of preservation of the cultural and ethnic identity has given the intrinsic value of a true Australian – of which is acceptance and respect to ethnic and cultural values. The goal is to pass this to the next generation and educate them on what it means to celebrate “Australia Day”.


[1] Ethnic Groups in Australia.
Retrieved from: 
[2] Thorpe, Julie. “Nationalism and Ethnicity.”
[4]AG Staff with AAP. DNA confirms Aboriginal culture one of Earth’s oldest. Australian Geographic. 09/23/2011.
Retrieved from:
[6] Australian Government Edu. Australian National Anthem. 03/02/2007.
Retrieved from:
[7] Splash ABC. The White Australia Policy.
Retrieved from:!/digibook/613054/the-white-australia-policy
[8] Luckhurst, Samuel. On This Day In 1882: The Ashes Originates As England Lose To Australia. 08/28/2013. Huffpost Sport.
Retrieved from:

6 thoughts on “The True Australian: Of Ethnic Pride and Nationalistic Identity

  1. I think geography helped Australia in shaping its national identity. Although, the British colony divided the continent into multiple colonies, the first Australian constitution decided the relationships between these colonies and managed its national identity. I like the Australian experience. Good post

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Although the contemporary Australia is the product of diverse immigrants and historical predominance of Great Britain and Ireland, the racism still is the top issue in the country. Still there are reports of assaults on Indian and Asian students are being published on the news.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting post, showing that nationalism can shift over time and incorporate the “other”. The White Australian Policy reminds of the current shift in the UK and other EU nations towards stricter naturalization policies for immigrants such as language tests and difficult exams to “prove their loyalty.” the more things change, the more they stay the same…


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