It is difficult to firmly fix Australia’s National identity or core values in a simple way, there does not appear to be a ‘typical Australian’ with us coming in all shapes and sizes and from all back grounds and walks of life. There does however seem to be some unique Australian features and a strong sense of identity.
When you see an Australian, you recognise it, a kind of connection and synergy.
Our national characteristics were clearly identifiable in the Diggers-mateship, endurance, ingenuity, teamwork, courage, resilience and the like. Clearly these didn’t emerge overnight.
They were honed by the challenges our forebears faced in surviving in our remarkable country, with its vast distances, harsh terrain and unpredictable climate.
Australians in almost every sector overcame obstacles to build our Nation with a practical and pragmatic approach built up over long periods of hardship. The spirit needed to survive and grow was constantly tested. It produced generations of Australians capable of heroic struggles in their daily lives.
Patrick Lindsay: The Spirit of the Digger Then and Now.
Australian society now has people from more then 200 different birthplaces around the world. Our makeup includes the remarkable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have inhabited and thrived in most parts of the Australian Continent. They spoke one or more of hundreds of separate languages and dialects, and their lifestyles and cultural traditions differed from region to region. Their complex social systems and highly developed traditions reflect a deep connection with the land. While the dispossession of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders from their land was harsh and unjust, they have made a strong and positive contribution to Australia’s spirit and identity. In Australia there is a considerable percentage of Australians who were born overseas or have at least one of their parents born overseas. Australian society is fluid and in a constant flux, constantly changing and redefining itself. Given our great diversity and increasing ethnic diversity it may become more difficult to truly identify the Australian Spirit. I believe the Australian Spirit is in our blood embedded in our genes and we will continue to pass on our powerful traits to future generations of Australians. In times of crisis- terrorism, bushfires, floods, accidents, disasters and conflicts our Australian Spirit will continue to shine through.
Perhaps General Cosgrove best sums it up.
We are real people. Australians automatically form teams. We can’t see another Australian without feeling an immediate and strong sense of identity. You’ve automatically got a team. We instinctively trust each other until something happens to say that trust was misplaced. ‘And that’s why Australians are almost as a fundamental premise, so good when they put a military uniform on.