Civic Participation - sports and recreation

Also see Beginning a Life in Australia (Chapter 12 – Civic Participation)

We live in a country of wide-open spaces with a good climate that makes outdoor pastimes easy to enjoy. Sport and outdoor recreation are a way of life to share with family and friends; a way of life that is a healthy balance between work and play. We live in a country of cities with theatres, museums, sports fields and galleries; where people can meet to enjoy sports events and artistic shows. We are a land of people who have come from other countries and brought their music, dance, art and other fun parts of their culture with them.

Below is information that will help you get to grips with Australia, understand what we like and what is important to us.

Sport

Australia is sports mad. Whether you’re talking about school lunchtime netball or the Olympics, we encourage people to get involved, have fun and stay healthy.

Australia is a proud sporting nation that values fair play, inclusiveness, humility and respect in our athletes. All Australians are encouraged to get involved with physical activity to stay healthy and playing sport can be a great way to meet new people in your community. You can find almost any sport being played here from abseiling to yachting.

Getting your kids involved with sport can teach them great life lessons about the importance of teamwork, persistence and participation. Many different sports in Australia operate a junior version of their game to foster early learning and improve fine motor skills. Schools will also encourage students to participate in sport through physical education programs and interschool sport. For more information on sporting organisations in your area, please visit the state and territory sites below.

Many Australians like to support professional teams and go to live games. In Australia, there are four major football codes (rugby league, rugby union, association football or soccer, and Australian rules) along with cricket and netball competitions. There is no national sport of Australia though cricket, rugby league and Australian rules are the three most popular professional sports. Going to a sports match with friends can be a great recreational activity and many cities provide free public transport to encourage attendance. Tourism websites for your city will be able to provide dates and locations for professional sporting events.

Culture and socialising

This page provides some brief information on the Australian people and some tips to help you get along with your new neighbours and friends. The best advice is to get out there and experience it for yourself.

Australian culture is varied and there is no typical Aussie though we have many common beliefs and shared values. The central tenants of Australian culture are equality, a fair go for all, a belief in democracy and the value of mateship. Australia values diversity and we live in a multicultural society that is made up of many different people from many nations, religions, ethnicities and beliefs. New arrivals are encouraged to maintain and share their culture and traditions with friends and neighbours and share in theirs as well.

A great way to get to know Australia is to experience our food and break bread with other Australians. The traditional barbeque (a grill and/or hot plate for meat and vegies) is both a cooking implement and a social gathering similar to Brazilian churrasco or Korean gogigui. Grilled meats, seafood and vegetables, along with salads and desserts are all appropriate for taking to a barbeque. Similarly, experiencing Indigenous culture through food can be a great way to learn more about the nation’s first people. Bush tucker is a term referring to food from the Australian outback and many tours are available that sample fruit, vegetables and nuts along with Australian bush meats like kangaroo, crocodile and emu.

Australians are free to follow any religion they want or none at all if they choose. The majority of Australians are Christians or atheists though there are sizable Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist communities along with many other smaller communities. Australian Indigenous peoples also hold many different spiritual beliefs tied to the land and communities.

Australia’s Multicultural Policy highlights the importance of diversity in our Australian society.

Entertainment and the arts

Australia has a long artistic history that covers many forms including the fine arts, music, theatre, cinema and television. From Indigenous rock art and dot paintings through to modern artists such as Ken Done and Pro Hart; great Australian movies like The Castle and Mad Max through to internationally recognised television shows such as Neighbours and Home and Away.

Our music scene has always been rich in talent with Australian performers and bands succeeding both for our audiences and on the international stage. Musicians like AC/DC, Silverchair, Slim Dusty, John Farnham, The Wiggles and many others have helped shape our music scene.

The Ministry for the Arts website provides further information on the arts and how to get involved. The site also has links to the state and territory departments of the arts.

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