Real Australians

In the last post I mentioned that in 1948 (1947 census, to be accurate) only 3% of the non-Aboriginal population of Australia — that is, of 7,637,000 people — were born outside of either Australia or the British Isles. (Aboriginal people were not included in the census until 1971, following the Referendum of 1967.)

I omitted the latest figure from 2016: Census shows 49% of population either first- or second-generation migrants, with the remaining 51% at least third generation.

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Today the Sydney Morning Herald features an interesting international Ipsos Poll. On the question Who is and is not a “Real Australian”, “Real American”, or a “Real Briton”?

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Ipsos reports:

Australia is among the top five countries when it comes to having the most inclusive definition of nationality, an Ipsos Global Advisor survey shows.

Canada and the United States topped the list followed by South Africa, France, and Australia. These countries score highest on an “Inclusiveness Index” reflecting social acceptance of diversity as it applies to religion, immigration, sexual orientation and gender identity, political views, and criminal background.


Commenting on the findings, David Elliott, Director Ipsos Social Research Institute – NSW, said: When you take into account all the components we covered and look at the Overall Inclusiveness Index, Australia comes out as one of the five most inclusive nations behind Canada, the US, South Africa, and France.  This is not that surprising given our multicultural society as it exposes Australians to a variety of cultures and religions which helps drive acceptance.  It also fits with previous Ipsos studies on immigration and refugees, which highlighted Australia as one of the more positive countries globally in terms of our views on immigration and refugees.

“However, while we are generally accepting of religious diversity and immigrants, we do show much less positive views of naturalised citizens when they aren’t fluent in English or don’t have a job, as well as lifelong immigrants who don’t become citizens and illegal immigrants who have lived here most of their lives.

“Interestingly, where we fall down the list in terms of our inclusiveness versus other nations is in regard to LBGTI people and those convicted of a criminal offence who have served time in prison, with our classification of these people as ‘real’ Australians placing us mid-table. 

Plenty of food for thought there. Personally, I doubt there is such a beast as a “real Australian”. For me anyone who is here is by definition an Australian, end of story. Of course it helps if they speak English, but it is also a great thing to be able to speak two or more languages! Multilingual Australians are a national treasure, in my opinion. I have long since stopped feeling paranoid when I hear people speaking Croatian, Chinese, or whatever at the club, on the bus, or anywhere else.

Do visit my 2011 series Being Australian.


Food and time….

Prompted by last night’s 1950s episode of Back in Time for Dinner:

This was, after all, a time when post-war food rationing was still in play, fridge technology was evolving, you had to buy olive oil from the chemist, phones were attached to a wall by a cord and tripe was on the menu.

Baker laughs. “I don’t think this family will ever, ever eat tripe again. With each decade we gave them a manual and the 1950s included a fantastic tripe recipe that Carol had to cook. She was aghast.”

Back in the day I loved tripe — the way my mother cooked it anyway!

I note that 100+ posts here are tagged food! Here are some sample meals….

Ziggy’s House of Nomms, Wollongong:


Much missed: Shiraz Persian Restaurant, Wollongong:


Taste of Xian, Wollongong:


Samara’s Wollongong:



Fascinating story of Wollongong Art Gallery

Must go again! On an earlier visit:


It is the Gallery’s 40th anniversary.

An immersive interactive installation project that celebrates the significant and generous gift by Bronius (Bob) Sredersas, a Lithuanian migrant and steel worker whose personal art collection became the impetus for the establishment of Wollongong Art Gallery.

Incorporating the Sredersas art collection, this innovative multidisciplinary exhibition recognizes both the Gallery’s origins and celebrates the contribution that migrants and refugees have made and continue to make to our communities.

This work has been created by the Society of Histrionic Happenings under the curatorship of Anne-Louise Rentell​ through the Gallery’s Visiting Curators Program.

​​THE GIFT on Vimeo

See also THE GALLERY / The Story of Us.

It was not until 1975 after a chance meeting with a very modest gentleman named Bronius (Bob) Sredersas. Bob wanted to donate his collection to the “Children of Wollongong”. This momentous gift was the catalyst on which the Art Gallery was built (Sredersas Gallery). The Illawarra County Council donated the property formally known as the Hughes Whetton Reilly Building (now Wollongong Youth Centre), including the land upon which it stood to Council on the proviso that the property be used for an Art Gallery. Through the persistence and hard work of the society, volunteers and donors, and with the assistance of Council and Government funding bodies, a Director and Board of Trustee was appointed and on the 2 June 1978 Wollongong City Gallery was officially opened by Mr Neville Wran, Premier of NSW at 85 Burelli Street, Wollongong attended by over 500 people. The first exhibition was titled Burghers of Calais, with works borrowed for the National Gallery and Art Gallery of NSW.                                      

Local ABC has a great feature: The Lithuanian secret service officer whose art collection changed an Australian city.

Bronius 'Bob Sredersas stands in front of a painting while holding a cigarette.

I was back in Wollongong by late 1978, though seeing out the year working at Sydney University.


“North Wollongong Beach in the early 1980’s. Photo thanks to Lost Wollongong member Michael Schurr.” I was living not far away in Church Street at that time – well, at least from late 1978 to the beginning of 1981.

I recall hearing about “The Gift” at the time. Interesting the role played by Father Michael Bach, whom I met earlier in the 70s when he officiated at a wedding where I was a groomsman.

Mr Sredersas’ life outside of work could not have been more contradictory — he would not be seen at the local pubs that were filled with steelworkers or at the local football matches and horse races.

Instead, he would spend his time at his fibro cottage in the Wollongong suburb of Cringila, tending to a garden of roses, cabbages, lemons and a line of trees to absorb the dust from the steelworks.

It was in 1956 when he decided that his home needed a painting and he caught the train to Sydney, a journey he would regularly make over a period of 20 years….

In 1977, hastened by a break-in which saw 13 of the works stolen — including two Willian Ashtons and a Norman Lindsay — Mr Sredersas began to wonder where his collection would be stored over the long term.

He decided that the people of Wollongong, the city he felt he owed a great debt to, should own the paintings.

A devout Catholic, Mr Sredersas, who was then in his late 60s, enlisted the help of Father Michael Bach who was the administrator of Wollongong Cathedral at the time….

Body language and cultural differences

One of the most amazing spectacles provided by Donald Trump is his body language. I have never seen anything quite like it. We all recall President Macron’s experiences:


See also The Awkward Body Language of Donald Trump.

Sacred texts have received less scrupulous analysis than Trump’s foreign-leader handshakes, his presidential-debate snorts (remember those?) and the reactions — aghast, awe-struck, puzzled, peeved — of those who bump up against (or happen to be married to) him.

It just may be that this is relevant to things happening lately. The whole area of the physical in cross-cultural communication is one business people and teachers of English soon encounter. It can be fascinating and often far more important than we at first realise. See 20 Cultural Mistakes to Avoid in Korea.

Here is an amusing example from my own experience. I took this photo in a Surry Hills pub in 1990.


At the time I was working in an English Language college. Rui, on the left, was a scientist from China; Mr Kim, on the right, had been in the Korean military. Great guys, both of them. The Korean cultural habit of grabbing the leg of a companion in order to show friendliness is clearly not a Chinese custom. The photo is not a set-up! I saw what was going on and snapped it for my own amusement, and later shared it with the two in the pic, who also found it amusing…

This post is very honest and interesting. I haven’t been to Korea, but back in 1990 I did encounter what can happen if a Korean feels he/she has lost face. I wonder if Donald Trump ever takes such things into account? Maybe he does….

Every culture has social cues and norms that are implicitly understood.  Korea has more of those than the West.  Westerners, in comparison to Koreans, are brutally direct, particularly in the workplace, and that applies to Americans most specifically.  Koreans have no problem telling you that you look like a fat ass or that your face is melting due to old age/lack of plastic surgery, but they will generally skirt the issues at work or really when anything is important.  You’re just expected to understand, which makes being a newbie here more than a bit difficult at times.  By contrast, I feel that expectations in the West are more direct, which is helpful when you don’t really know the expectations in the first place.

Many foreigners here are left with the impression that Koreans expect them to be mind readers.  This is sort of true.  They expect the same of Koreans, but it is marginally easier when you’re at least dealing with your own culture.  The lack of planning and subtle social cues that Koreans drop don’t really do the job for most Westerners.  The Koreans can’t understand why the foreigner didn’t pick up what to them amounts to an obvious cue, and the poor little waeguk ends up thinking that Koreans are insane, never mind disorganized flounders who can’t tell up from down.  Which is kind of true sometimes.

For my part, I’ve gotten used to many of the aspects of “face” and trying to save it in Korea.  I’ve learned to pick up on a lot of the Korean social cues.  I can read between the lines when my boss says certain things.  “Student A is taking a break” means “Student A quit and probably won’t be back.”  Sometimes the student is legitimately on a break, but most of the time, they never reappear….

Yes, I watched it! And with much pleasure…

While not necessarily endorsing all the theological framework underpinning it, I could but rejoice at the breath of fresh air — and demonstration of the power of speech — that was “US Episcopal church [bishop], Michael Curry, a campaigner for LGBT rights and racial justice.” See Astonishment as dose of civil rights puts seal on a radical wedding.

“Imagine governments and nations when love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way.” In wry self-deprecation, he made the congregation giggle by assuring them he was almost done. “With this I will sit down,” he joked, “we gotta get y’all married.” He then went on to recall French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “one of the great minds and spirits of the 20th century”, in a fiery conclusion urging that “ if human beings ever harness the energies of love, then for the second time in history, we will have discovered fire.”

[Archbishop of Canterbury] Welby urged his followers on Twitter to watch the 13 minute sermon in full, describing it as “extraordinary and powerful”.

See also fellow-blogger “Happy Antipodean”: Cross-cultural threads embellish the royal wedding and Annabel Crabb: Royal wedding: Reverend Bishop Michael Curry upstages Meghan Markle with impassioned sermon.


…there was one woman who looked entirely comfortable, nodding along contentedly to the words of the visiting bishop.

And it was the woman who otherwise had the most reason to feel ill at ease — the woman who only two days earlier had flown from California to London to meet the Queen, say hello to her only daughter, then head to a castle built one millennium ago by William the Conqueror to see that daughter marry a prince in front of a global television audience of 20 million or so.

Doria Ragland — whose own ancestors were slaves, and who was unaccompanied at the ceremony, quietly wiping tears from her cheeks as she watched her daughter — was quite at ease with the soaring rhetoric, and didn’t seem to notice the bubble of nervous hysteria building among the congregation.

Loved that gospel choir version of Stand By Me too!