Transcript of Episode 2 – Australia and its people
At the citizenship ceremony, you pledge your loyalty to Australia and its people.
In this section, there is information about:
- Australia’s people
- Australia’s states and territories, and
- traditions and symbols.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Australia’s first inhabitants are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have the oldest continuous cultures and traditions in the world.
The archaeological record indicates that Aboriginal peoples arrived in Australia between 65,000 and 40,000 years ago; however, the Aboriginal peoples believe they are central to the creation stories of this land, and their creation stories commence with the beginning of time. Indigenous cultures are diverse and an important part of Australia’s national identity.
Early days of European settlement
European settlement started when the First Fleet of convict ships arrived from Great Britain on the 26th of January 1788. Early free settlers came from Great Britain and Ireland. This British and Irish heritage has had a major influence on Australia’s recent history, culture and politics. In 1851, a ‘gold rush’ began when gold was discovered in the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. People from all around the world came to try to make their fortunes.
The nation of Australia
People have come to Australia from many countries.
The diversity of Australia’s population has increased over the last two centuries. This diverse and prosperous society enhances Australia’s connection to the world.
While we celebrate the diversity of Australia’s people, we also aim to build a cohesive and unified nation.
Australia’s national language is English. Communicating in English is important for making the most of living and working in Australia. In keeping with Australian values, migrants should learn and use English to help them participate in Australian society.
Other languages are also valued, including more than 100 distinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
Australia’s states and territories
The Commonwealth of Australia is a federation of states and territories. There are six states and two mainland territories.
Canberra is Australia’s capital city, and each state and mainland territory has its own capital city. Several national institutions are located in Canberra, including Parliament House and the High Court of Australia.
- Sydney is the capital city of New South Wales and is the nation’s largest city
- Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria
- Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland
- Perth is the capital city of Western Australia
- Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia
- Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania
- Canberra is the capital city of the Australian Capital Territory, and
- Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory.
Traditions and symbols - Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country Protocols
A Welcome to Country is a cultural practice performed by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander custodian of the local region, welcoming visitors to their traditional land.
An Acknowledgement of Country may be delivered at meetings and events, and anyone can deliver an Acknowledgement of Country.
These practices are performed to show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Important days for Australians
Australia Day – 26th of January
On Australia Day, communities across Australia reflect on our history, and the people who have contributed to our shared achievements. It is the biggest annual public holiday in Australia. Australia Day is marked by events across Australia, including special citizenship ceremonies. Australia Day is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet from Great Britain in 1788.
Anzac Day – 25th of April
Anzac Day is commemorated on the 25th of April each year and is named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
The Anzacs landed at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War One on the 25th of April 1915.
On Anzac Day, we remember all Australians who served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. We also honour the courage and commitment of all servicemen and women.
The Australian National Flag is the official flag of our nation. Each state and territory also has its own flag which can be viewed in the Australian citizenship test resource booklet, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond.
Other flags that are officially recognised and may be flown in the community include the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag.
The Australian National Flag is blue, white and red.
- The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, represents our history of British settlement and the laws and institutions we inherited as a result.
- The Commonwealth Star, under the Union Jack, has seven points, one point for each of the six states and one for the territories.
- The Southern Cross, on the right, is a group of stars that can be seen in the
The Australian Aboriginal Flag is black, red and yellow.
- The top half is black and represents the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.
- The bottom half is red and represents the earth, which has ceremonial significance.
- The yellow circle represents the sun.
The Torres Strait Islander Flag is green, blue, black and white.
- The green represents the land.
- The blue represents the sea.
- The black represents the Torres Strait Islander people.
- The white dancer’s headdress is a symbol for all Torres Strait Islanders.
- The points of the white star represent the island groups in the Torres Strait, and the colour white represents peace.
Commonwealth Coat of Arms
The Commonwealth Coat of Arms is the official symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia. It identifies the authority and property of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Australia’s national flower
Australia’s national flower is the golden wattle. It has bright green leaves and golden yellow flowers in spring.
Australia’s national colours
Australia’s national colours are green and gold, the colours of the golden wattle.
The opal is Australia’s national gemstone.
Australia’s national anthem
‘Advance Australia Fair’ is Australia’s national anthem.
It is sung on occasions of national importance, including at Australian citizenship ceremonies and major sporting events.