Student Services Direct

People & Culture

Australia's current population stands at over 19 million people and nearly one quarter of Australian residents were born overseas, making it a very diverse and multicultural country.

The main language spoken in Australia is English but due to the multicultural nature of the country, many other languages are commonly spoken such as Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, French, German etc.

Social Customs

This means the common or usual way Australians behave in their day-to-day life. As a tolerant society with people from many cultures, each person is encouraged to maintain and share their cultural beliefs and practices. At the same time, we respect the right of others to do the same.

Being aware of some common customs will help you to adapt to life in the community.

How do we greet people?

When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person's right hand with your right hand. People who do not know each other generally do not kiss or hug when meeting. When you first meet someone, it is polite not to talk about personal matters.

Many Australians look at the eyes of the people they are talking with. They consider this a sign of respect, and an indication that they are listening. Do not stare at the person for a long time. It is usual to address a new acquaintance using their title and family name. You may use their first name when they ask you to or use it in the introduction.

In the workplace and among friends, most Australians tend to be informal and call each other by their first names. Many Australians will also greet people with the slang term ‘G’day mate’ meaning ‘Hello friend’.

Cuisine & Food

Australian cuisine is some of the most diverse anywhere in the world due to the many cultural influences. Today, influenced by the large number of immigrants from Mediterranean, Asian and other countries, our menus now reflect Australia's multicultural society.

Fresh produce is readily available and used extensively with the trend towards low-fat cooking incorporating Australia’s wide variety of seafood, lean meats and abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The famous Australian barbeque (BBQ or 'barbie') is common at weekend gatherings with family and friends and is also commonly used as a fundraiser for schools and community groups in the form of a 'sausage sizzle'. This consists of a barbequed sausage with onions and tomato sauce served on bread as a sausage sandwich.

There is a wide variety of take-away food in Australia. There are many American take-away chains such as McDonalds (known as Macca's by the locals), KFC, Burger King, Domino's, Subway and Pizza Hut along with many other well known franchises such as Red Rooster, Nando's and O`Porto's for chicken and Eagle Boys and Pizza Haven for Pizza.

Aside from these large chains, most Australians often choose the local ‘take-away’ where you can get anything from an ‘aussie’ hamburger or meat pie to fish and chips or a charcoal chicken.

Click here to find your local halal food outlet/restaurant.


Although the majority of Australians are Christian, many other religions are represented throughout the country. All major cities have synagogues, temples and mosques and most universities have their own religious groups on campus.

To find a place of worship in your local area go to - Mosques - Churches - Buddhist Temples

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