Transcript of Episode 5 – Australian values
Australian values based on freedom, respect, fairness and equality of opportunity are central to our community remaining a secure, prosperous and peaceful place to live. Australian citizenship is about living out these values in your everyday day life and in your local community. It is very important that you understand the values that all Australian people are expected to respect, share and uphold. In this section there is information about our values and our community.
Our values - commitment to the rule of law
Under the Rule of Law, all Australians are equal in relation to the law and no person or group is above the law.
In Australia, everybody should obey the law and not break it at any time, otherwise they will face penalties. You should follow the law even if no one is watching. Australian laws apply to all people in Australia, regardless of background or culture.
Australia’s system of government is a parliamentary democracy. The power of the government comes from the Australian people because Australian citizens vote for people to represent them in parliament. Voting is compulsory in Australia. This shows the importance of participating in elections.
Freedom of speech
People in Australia should be able to express their ideas freely as long as it is within the law. In Australia, people are free to meet in public or private places for social or political discussion.People are also free to say and write what they think about any topic and to discuss their ideas with others. Newspapers, television and radio outlets have the same freedom.
Australians are allowed to peacefully protest against the actions of the government, because tolerance of peaceful public protest is an essential part of democracy.
It is never acceptable to promote violence against another person or group of people because it is against Australian values and the law. Other people’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression must be respected, as long as such expression is lawful.
Freedom of Association
In Australia, people are free to join or leave any group voluntarily as long as it is within the law.
People are free to join any legal organisation, such as:
- a political party
- trade union, or
- a religious, cultural or social group
Australians can gather freely with others, including to protest against a government action or an organisation. However, all protests must be within the law.
Freedom of Religion
Australia has no official national religion. People in Australia are free to follow any religion they choose. Religious practices must not break Australian laws. Australian law must be followed by everyone in Australia, including where it is different from religious laws.
Some religious or cultural practices, such as polygamy (which is being married to more than one person at the same time) and forced marriage, are against the law in Australia and can result in severe legal penalties, including imprisonment.
Religious intolerance is not acceptable in Australian society.
All people should be provided equal opportunity to pursue their goals and interests regardless of their ethnicity or religion as long as they are obeying Australian law.
Equality of all people under the law
Australian society values the equality of all people regardless of their:
- sexual orientation
- race, or
- national or ethnic origin.
The law is applied in Australia so that people from different backgrounds are not given preferential treatment, nor discriminated against. For example, Buddhists and people of other faiths receive the same treatment as Christians.
Under our laws, two people can marry each other, including marriage between two men or two women.
Men and women have equal rights in Australia and should be provided equality of opportunity to pursue their goals and interests. It is against the law to discriminate against a person because of their gender. In Australia, it is a right for a woman to get a job ahead of a man, if she has better qualifications and skills.
Both men and women have the right to make their own independent choices about personal matters, such as marriage and religion, and are protected by the law from intimidation or violence. Physical violence against a spouse or partner is never acceptable and it is a criminal offence in Australia.
Divorce is acceptable in Australia. Either a husband or wife may apply for a divorce to the courts, even if the other spouse wishes to continue the marriage.
Equality of opportunity and a ‘fair go’
Ensuring everyone has the same legal rights is an important aspect of fairness in Australian society.
We believe that everyone deserves a ‘fair go’ and people should not be limited by any kind of class distinction. What someone achieves in life should be a result of their hard work and talents. This means a person should get a job based on their skills and experience, not because of their gender, wealth or ethnicity.
When an organisation needs to fill a job, the law supports that they select the person with the best skills and experience for the job.
Mutual respect and tolerance
In Australia, individuals must respect the freedom and dignity of others, and their opinions and choices.
It is against the law to be violent towards another person. Violence of any kind, including verbal and physical abuse, is illegal.
In Australia there are very strict laws concerning the age of sexual consent, which is 16 or 17 depending on which state or territory you reside in. For example, a 20 year old man cannot have sexual relations with a 15 year old girl, because that is against the law in all Australian states and territories.
In Australia, the lawful actions of the police should be supported. You should obey a lawful request from the police, because all Australians commit to following the law.
Mutual respect and tolerance means listening to others and respecting their views and opinions, even when they are different from your own.
People should be tolerant of each other where they find that they disagree.
Racism has no place in Australia. This includes creating or sharing racially offensive material on the internet or other publications and making racially abusive comments in a public place or at a sporting event.
Our community - Making a contribution
Australians expect everyone living in Australia to participate in our society and make a contribution to our community. Everyone has a responsibility to try and support themselves and their families when they are able to do so.
Compassion for those in need
Australians value ‘mateship’. We help each other in times of need. Australia has a strong tradition of community service and volunteering. Volunteering is a great opportunity to share knowledge, learn new skills, and increase your integration into and sense of belonging to the Australian community.
English as the national language
Australian society values the English language as the national language of Australia, and as an important unifying element of society. People in Australia should make an effort to learn English. It is important to learn to speak English because it helps to get an education, a job, and better integrate into the community. Applicants for Australian citizenship must undertake to make reasonable efforts to learn the English language, if it is not their native language.
Helping to keep our society safe
In Australia we each have responsibilities to help protect Australian society. For example, if people in Australia suspect that their friend or neighbour may be planning to commit a serious crime, they should report this to Australian government authorities as soon as possible. Similarly, if a person sees or has knowledge of a child being abused, they should report this to the police to investigate.
Online abuse is not accepted in Australia. This is sometimes called cyber abuse. Examples include sharing sexual photos or videos online without consent, stalking a person online, or making racially abusive comments about a person online. Many forms of cyber abuse are illegal in Australia.
Loyalty to Australia
In the citizenship pledge, Australian citizens pledge their loyalty to Australia and its people. Australian citizens may also hold the citizenship of another country or countries if the laws of those countries allow. This is known as dual, or multiple, citizenship.
However, even if a person is also a citizen of another country, an Australian citizen within Australia must follow all Australian laws at all times. Some Australian laws must also be followed by Australian citizens even when they are overseas. For example, it is illegal for Australians to be involved in any sexual activity, here or overseas, with a child under 16 years of age.
Australian society is based on our shared obligations not to undermine Australia’s interests and security. For example, using social media to share official government secrets would be undermining Australia’s interests. Similarly, promoting distrust in and fear of an ethnic community would damage Australian community relations.
Australian citizenship – Our common bond
Our democratic institutions and shared Australian values have created a peaceful and stable society. We have a rich and unique culture to share.
As an Australian citizen, you will become part of our nation’s story and will contribute to our future.
Australia welcomes you.
Citizenship is our common bond.