Report on 3 different cultures within Australia
Report on 3 different cultures within Australia
Australia is an ethnically diverse society owing to its history. Indeed, one out of four residents of Australia were born outside the country while many others are either first or second generation Australia in the sense that they are either children or grandchildren of migrants and refugees in Australia. This identity of Australian people is due to the convergence of various factors. Similarly, the presence of various ethnic communities in the society has led to a multicultural society in the country. In essence, the culture of the people of Australia is a western culture that is influenced by the diverse input of Aborigines, the Torres Strait Islanders and the non-indigenous culture, the colonization of Australia by the British in the year 1788 and the diverse waves of multiethnic migration that ensued. Before making a description of the cultures that straddle the Australian continent, it is essential to note that the culture in Australia is a product of various factors. There is the predominance of the English Language owing to the colonization by the British, a democratic form of government, Christianity as the dominant religion and the popularity of both cricket and rugby as sports (Williams, 1995, pp. 1-14). It is against this background of a multiethnic and multicultural society that this report proceeds to describe the culture that a travel and tourism organization is likely to deal with. The report makes a description of the various cultures in Australia including that of the indigenous people and explores the barriers that the organization may face in its endeavors. Finally, the report highlights the issues that may cause a conflict between the organization and the Australian people and recommends ways in which the same can be minimized.
The Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders constitute the two distinct cultures of indigenous people in Australia. The two cultures are indigenous because they inhabited the continent even before the advent of the British colonizers and settlers in the year 1788 (Hylton&Molony, 2004, p. 12). These indigenous people, also referred to as the first Australians, lived on the islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea, at a place now known as the Torres Strait. It is, however, important to note that there were in excess of 500 clans or groups around the Australian continent with varying cultures, languages and beliefs. At the moment, the indigenous people constitute 22.4 percent of the Australian population thereby implying that the travel and tourism organization is bound to meet and deal with them. Given that both indigenous persons and the non-indigenous persons inhabit Australia, it may be the case that the interaction between the members of the travel organization and the residents may be occurring for the first time. Consequently, tension, conflict and misunderstanding may result owing to the variant life experiences, cultural backgrounds and communication styles (Smith, 2002, p. 8). This report thus seeks to provide an overview of the common differences between the cultures in Australia and how this may impact on the workplace together with recommendations and advice to assist the organization in navigating these differences. Nonetheless, it is crucial to note that all the issues as discussed in this report may not apply evenly to all persons, and it is imperative that members of the organization take a cue from the specific person they are interacting with.
As already mentioned, the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders are indigenous people in Australia. Whereas both are indigenous people, they are different in their culture. The Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 defines Aboriginal persons as descendants of indigenous inhabitants of Australia while Torres Strait Islanders are defined as those that hailed from the Torres Strait Islands. Being the case that these indigenous people are not the same, it, therefore, follows that their names should never be used interchangeably as they are not the same people (McQueen, 1979, p. 4). This may act as a barrier to students when dealing with these indigenous people as they may feel offended when one refers to them incorrectly. It is crucial that the organization's members or the students do ask the people in a way that is not offending of the real identity of the people to avoid conflicts. While at this, it is crucial while asking for the students to ensure that they use the correct terminology while asking or even during deliberations with the people on a plethora of issues. The reason is, historically; there has been a range of terms that have been used to describe indigenous Australians some of which are offending. Some of these terms tended to describe the indigenous people on the basis of parentage and skin color which is demeaning to say the least. These terms include full-blood, half-caste, quarter caste, quadroon and part-Aborigine (Williams J. F., 1995). It is important to take cognizance of the fact that these terms are extremely derogatory and offensive to the indigenous people and should as such, be avoided. In the same breadth, nouns such as Aborigines and their abbreviations such as Abo’s should not be used in reference to this group of people (Williams D. , 2002, pp. 42-43). The use of the appropriate terminology, when referring to people, is a show of respect for humanity. Another issue that may bring misunderstanding and thus act as a barrier to students is that of communication between the various cultures.
The third culture, that consisting of the non-indigenous people that is distinctively different from the indigenous culture such as the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders. For instance, the non-indigenous people or culture is keen on individual rights and separation of the rights and interest of victims and the offender as opposed to collective interests as is the a case among the indigenous culture. The system of law of the indigenous people is aimed at restoring social relationships and a sense of cohesive collective identity. With regard to dispute resolution, the non-indigenous people make use of external professionals or strangers in determining the nature of dispute as well as its resolution and or punishment in case of wrongdoing. In the event of decision making, the indigenous culture is usually keen on hierarchical and formalized decision making through institutions such as courts and a judicial system. In contrast, the indigenous culture including that of the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders makes use or consensus and collective decision making that at most times takes time and lots of negotiation. The indigenous communities face difficulties that are not experienced by the non-indigenous especially with respect to laws and processes. For instance, many indigenous people are much concerned about the breakdown of the traditional authority that vest in the elders. Further, they are sometimes unable to deal collectively with delinquent behavior within their midst. Similarly, the pressure from close kin in the family may mean that leaders in the indigenous culture may find it upsetting to enforce some decisions and policies.
The various cultures, that is the indigenous people and the non-indigenous people do communicate in different ways. For an organization to enhance its service to these groups of people, it is critical that it is aware of this so as to aid mutual respect, understanding and foster a positive working environment. In particular, non-verbal communication among the indigenous people in Australia is important as it may be different among this group of people as compared to the non-indigenous people (McQueen, 1979). In most of the cases, silence among the indigenous people does not usually mean that an individual does not understand but rather they are listening and rationalizing. In most of the times, they are normally waiting to hear the ideas of others before making known their own. There are other times among the indigenous people that they may remain non-committed to something because they are awaiting community support or input (Hughes, 1970, p. 93). It is crucial that members of the organization or students to allow for periods of silence during interviews, meetings and even in general conversations for the aforementioned reasons. In addition, a number of indigenous people find the maintenance of eye contact as disrespectful and rude. As such, they may avoid eye contact while conversing. The understanding of this cultural context by the students and the organization are essential as it helps them realize that the absence of eye contact is not indicative of their lack of attention or interest (Hylton&Molony, 2004).
We now examine the step by step procedures that should be followed whenever misunderstandings are encountered with customers or at the workplace. For instance, in the event that one is interviewing indigenous people in Australia, it is first important that the interviewer is conscious of the communication styles and variance. This means that one should allow them time to think through the questions and respond knowing well that the silence that may occur does not mean that they never understood. Secondly, it may be necessary that the interviewer requires additional information over and above that given by the interviewee. The interviewer should thus seek to elicit further information by probing further in a conversational and non-threatening manner, being fully aware that a brief or short response may only be due to their shy nature or a feeling of shame (Williams, 2002). Thirdly, while doing this, the interviewer should ensure that he keeps the environment relaxed and show genuine interest. It is also important to be aware that an interviewee may choose to come along with another person to offer support. Fourthly, it is also good that an organization takes notice of significant cultural events in the calendar year and encourages its staff at the workplace to acknowledge them and be supportive. Some of these dates and cultural events include the Harmony Day, the Survival Day, the Reconciliation Week, the Mabo Day and the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People among others (Smith, 2002).
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Williams, J. F. (1995). The Quarantined Culture: Australian Reactions to Modernism, 1913–1939. Cambridge: Cambrdige University Press.