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Australia, Commonwealth of

Australia, Commonwealth of. A federation of six states, New South Wales (founded 1788), Western Australia (1829), Tasmania (formerly Van Diemen's Land, 1825), South Australia (1834), Victoria (1851), and Queensland (1859) and the self-governing Northern Territory (1863), together with Australian Capital Territory (1911), Norfolk (1856), Heard and McDonald (1947), Cocos (1955), Christmas (1958), and Coral Sea (1969) Islands, and the Australian Antarctic Territory (1933).

Australia is the smallest, most arid, and least populated of the world's continents. Its mainland, together with Tasmania, is nearly 3 million square miles—i.e. 35 times the size of Great Britain—and had a population of 19 million in 1998. Australia took its name from the mythical Southern Continent first postulated by classical geographers, Terra Australis Incognita. First sighted by Portuguese and Spanish navigators during the late 15th cent., it became known through 17th- and 18th-cent. Dutch, British, and later French voyages.

Australia's Aboriginal people entered the country more than 40,000 years ago across a land-bridge created during a low sea-level period. They greatly modified the Australian environment by the extensive use of fire and hunting to extinction of its mega-fauna, and developed a distinctive way of life centred around hunting and gathering, in which women and children played a key role. Aborigines gave animate and inanimate things quasi-religious properties and their cultures revolved round a seasonal cycle of life, whose origins were explained by a creation known (in translation) as the Dream Time. Completely isolated from the rest of the world, Aborigines developed a strong attachment to and intimate knowledge of the land (which they regarded as Mother). Although they appeared to have no socio-political system, they developed a complex web of social, lineal, and trade relations, which could extend over large areas. Estimates put their population at the time of the coming of the British at 500,000.

The modern era began with the arrival on 26 January 1788 of the 1st Fleet of eleven vessels under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip RN, who took formal possession of land already named New South Wales and claimed on Britain's behalf in 1770 by Captain James Cook. Extending westward as far as longitude east 135 degrees (extended to 129 degrees E. in 1834), New South Wales, with Sydney its capital, excluded New Holland, known to the Dutch East India Company from about 1610, but thought of little value. The British began to occupy New Holland in 1827, and with the formal possession and change of name to Western Australia and the founding of the Swan River Colony under Captain Stirling RN in 1829, Britain laid claim to the whole continent. New South Wales, the first colony, was subsequently divided into five separate colonies.

Britain's decision in 1786 to occupy New South Wales was partly to compensate for the loss of the American colonies to which unwanted convicts (some 50,000 before the Declaration of Independence in 1776) had been sent; and partly to protect Britain's control of the sea route to Asia via the Southern Ocean.

On arrival at Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, Captain Phillip, finding it less fertile than he had anticipated, sailed a few miles into Port Jackson (now Sydney Harbour), where, on 26 January, he commenced landing 736 convicts (including 188 women) along with a military guard of 210 officers and men. He was followed by the commercially organized 2nd and 3rd Fleets, which embarked a further 3,100 convicts, of whom nearly 300 died from maltreatment during the voyage. The transportation of convicts to New South Wales ceased in 1840, to Van Diemen's Land in 1853 (shortly afterwards renamed Tasmania), and to Norfolk Island in 1855. Between 1850 and 1868, 10,000 convicts were shipped as a subsidy to poverty-stricken Western Australia, making a grand total of 160,000 convicts transported before 1868. Convictism's real legacy is Australia's distinctively authoritarian executive-style government. The Aborigines offered no effective resistance to the British who, presuming them to be ‘savages’, applied the principle of vacuum domicilium (or terra nullius).

The early days of New South Wales were under near famine conditions and the colony was not self-sufficient in wheat until 1797. Free settlers were loathe to emigrate to such a distant land because it lacked a staple product and was tainted by convictism. However, the crossing of the Blue Mountains behind Sydney in 1813 revealed a belt of millions of acres of rich savannah grasslands. Here, flocks of fine wool-bearing merino sheep (first imported from the Cape Colony in 1797) spread out and by 1880 it supported over 60 million sheep. The export of wool provided the staple upon which to found a viable economy, helped end convict transportation, and created a new class of politically powerful and capitalist large-landholding squatters (graziers).

Exploration by sea from Sydney had already established that Tasmania was an island ( George Bass, 1796) and a later circumnavigation ( Matthew Flinders, 1803) established the true extent of the Australian continent. Inland exploration was initially directed toward the discovery of a supposed inland sea and new grasslands ( Charles Sturt, 1830 and 1845; Hamilton Hume and William Hovell, 1824; and Thomas Mitchell, 1836). Later explorations culminated in a series of trans-Australian expeditions, the most famous of which were E. J. Eyre (1851), L. Leichhardt (1844–5), Augustus Gregory (1855–6), John McDouall Stuart (1860–2), R. O'H. Burke and W. J. Wills (1861), and John Forrest (1874).

The discovery of gold in 1851 caused a dramatic leap in immigration and the combined population of New South Wales and Victoria rose from 267,000 in 1850 to 886,000 in 1860; 538,000 were located in the newly proclaimed colony of Victoria. Melbourne, its capital, rapidly became Australia's financial and industrial centre. A miners' revolt at Eureka Stockade near Ballarat in 1854 eventually forced the introduction of democratic reforms far in advance of those in England. These included the adoption of secret ballot (1856), adult male franchise (1857), paid parliamentarians (1870), and eventually votes for women (1908). The electoral power of the surplus population created by the gold rushes led to the breakup of the squatters' vast landholdings into family-operated cereal, hay, and dairy farms 1869–91.

After the repeal of the British Corn Laws in 1846, South Australians began to develop ‘dry-land’ wheat farming technologies in the 1850s. These were later adopted by new-land farmers in Victoria and New South Wales. Land clearing boomed, using rollers (Mullenizing, invented 1868), the stump plough (1876), harvesters (strippers, 1835), and with the introduction of refrigerated shipping (1882) came the export of dairy products and fresh meat to Britain.

The gold rushes and the rise of agriculture encouraged commerce, finance, trade, and industry in Sydney and Melbourne, the latter growing to more than half a million by 1900. The spread of wage labour in mines, factories, ports, and shearing sheds saw the rise of trade unionism during the 1870s. The defeat of the great strikes of 1888–95 led to the setting-up of union-backed Labour parties. The first, but short-lived, minority Labour governments took office in Queensland in 1899, and federally in 1904.

The 1880s was an era of reckless bank lending, and even more reckless borrowing by the land boomers. The inevitable bank crash of 1893 caused great distress and unemployment and also brought to an end ‘marvellous Melbourne’. The discovery of gold in Western Australia (Coolgardie, 1892, and Kalgoorlie, 1893) partly alleviated the recession.

The latter part of the 19th cent. was also a highly formative period for Australian culture: the founding of universities (Sydney, 1850; Melbourne, 1853; Adelaide, 1874; Tasmania, 1890); the writing of Australian novels and poetry, among them works by Henry Lawson (1867–1922); the beginnings of Australian science and technology (Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, Sydney, 1888); the development of Australian-rules football (first game 1858) and of Australian prowess in sport (the ‘Ashes’, 1882).

Following a series of meetings during the 1890s, six colonies agreed by referendum to become a federation. This was inaugurated on 1 January 1901 as the Commonwealth of Australia under a written constitution, based on that of the USA. One of the Commonwealth government's first acts was to introduce the so-called ‘White Australia policy’ to protect the Australian working man's standard of living. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 severely tested the new federation. An Australian Imperial Force (AIF) comprising 322,000 troops was sent overseas to fight alongside the allies, of whom 60,000 died or were killed in action. The period between the First and Second World Wars was at first prosperous with assisted British immigration until development was stopped by the Great Depression of the 1930s. At times, unemployment exceeded 25 per cent of the work-force. Australia's support for British empire preference helped maintain her exports to Britain. High gold prices, a devalued Australian currency, and the introduction of tariffs, subsidies, and marketing boards to protect local industry and primary producers may have staved off an even worse calamity, but Australia's dependence upon overseas capital and markets remained unchanged.

With the fall of Singapore in 1942, the withdrawal of the British to India, and the Japanese invasion of Papua New Guinea, the Second World War came to the shores of Australia with the bombing of Darwin. Wartime Labour Prime Minister John Curtin turned to America for military help. Australian forces played an important part in the Pacific War and were the first to defeat the Japanese on land in the battle for New Guinea (Kokoda).

After 1945, the wartime industrialization of Australia was continued behind tariff walls. The nationalization and welfare state ambitions of the governing Australian Labour Party were brought to a halt with the Australian High Court's rejection of the ALP's Bank Nationalization Act (1948) as unconstitutional, and the electoral success of Robert Menzies and his conservative coalition government in 1949. The coalition governed in times of increasing prosperity until defeated by the ALP in 1972 under the leadership of Gough Whitlam in a revolt against the conservatism and alleged uniformity of the Menzies era. The Menzies era (he served as prime minister until 1966) was one of the embourgeoisement of urban Australia involving the spread of the suburban family owner-occupied house (the ‘quarter acre block’) and car ownership.

Post-war mass European immigration, assisted by the Labour government, was made possible by an assured British market, a high Australian tariff wall, a 1960s boom in mining, especially for bauxite and iron ore, and the discovery of new reserves of petroleum, natural gas, and coal. 500,000 European immigrants, one-third from the British Isles, came to Australia 1945–9. Immigration peaked at 170,000 in 1952. The balance shifted toward Asian migration after the end of the war in Vietnam in 1972, whence Australia had accepted more than 100,000 refugees. Australia's population, which had passed the million mark by 1860 and the 5 million mark by 1920, was by 1970 more than 12.5 million.

Under the Whitlam Labour government (1972–5) tariffs were reduced and some economic reforms introduced. But the government ended in turmoil, was dismissed by the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, in 1975 and replaced after a general election by a coalition (Liberal and Country Party) under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser (1975–83). The Whitlam government's initiatives in Aboriginal affairs (already made full citizens by referendum in 1966), heritage, environment, family law, and health care were continued by the new government.

Despite massive majorities, the Fraser government was thought indecisive and, because of Kerr's action, regarded by some as lacking legitimacy. Labour was returned to power in 1983 under the leadership of former labour union leader, Robert Hawke. Replaced by his rival and federal treasurer Paul Keating in 1992, Hawke's government sought accord with the labour unions, introduced a programme of financial and industrial deregulation, improved health and welfare, superintended the 200th anniversary of the British settlement of Australia, and failed in its attempt to change the constitution.

The rise of a new nationalism, epitomized by Whitlam's recognition of China and North Vietnam, and his tour of Asian countries, the Fraser government's multi-cultural initiatives, and Hawke's celebration of the winning of the America's Cup in 1983, sought to include the new Asia-Pacific and multi-cultural horizon. Keating took the new nationalism further by forging closer links with Asia and pushing his republican ideas. He was returned to office in 1993 when coalition leader John Hewson failed to convince the people of the need to introduce a goods and services tax. Keating, with his self-proclaimed republican ‘big picture vision’ for Australia, his polemical style, and what was believed to be his arrogance, was roundly defeated in the 1996 election by a John Howard-led coalition. The 1996 election represented the third occasion (the others in 1949 and 1975) on which a reformist Labour government, often using ideas taken from the conservatives (deregulation and market economics being most recent), had been rejected by an electorate saturated with change.

Australia looks west to Europe, east to the USA, and north to her burgeoning Asian neighbours. Although now officially multi-cultural, Australia has still not resolved her relation with her own indigenous people, the Aborigines. The granting of native title by federal law in 1993 will in the long run markedly change the position of Aborigines, but unlike Australia's European and Asian immigrants, a high proportion of the nearly 300,000 Aboriginal people are still both culturally and geographically ‘fringe dwellers’.

With the rise of the new industrializing countries of east Asia, Australia's relative industrial and economic strength has dramatically declined. Australia has yet to face the fact, for example, that personal incomes in Singapore are on a par with those of an Australian worker. Furthermore, since Australia no longer has preferential access to European markets, it is now in direct competition with other primary raw material producers. Though retaining all the political, organizational, and governmental structures inherited from Britain, Australia is no longer the Anglo-Celtic culture that she was before 1945.

Martyn Webb


Blainey, G. , The Rush that Never Ended: A History of Australian Mining (Melbourne, 1963);
—— The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia's History (Melbourne, 1966);
Elder, B. (ed.), Great Events in Australia's History (Frenchs Forest, 1988);
Molony, J. , The Penguin History of Australia (Ringwood, 1987).

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Country statistics


7,686,850sq km (2,967,893sq mi)



capital (population):

Canberra (315,400)


Federal constitutional monarchy

ethnic groups:

European 93%, Asian 4%, Native Australian/Torres Strait Islander 2%


English (official)


Roman Catholic 27%, Anglican 22%, Uniting Church 7%, Presbyterian 4%, Baptist 2%, Lutheran 1%, Muslim 1%, Buddhism 1%


Australian dollar = 100 cents

Earth's smallest continent, between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.Combined with the island of Tasmania, it forms the independent Commonwealth country of Australia. See country feature Australia is the world's sixth-largest country. The huge Western Plateau makes up 66% of its land area, and is mainly flat and dry. Off the coast of ne Queensland lies the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Dividing Range extends down the entire e coast and into Victoria. The mountains of Tasmania are a southerly extension of the range. The highlands separate the e coastal plains from the Central Lowlands and include Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, in New South Wales. The capital, Canberra, lies in the foothills. The se lowlands are drained by the Murray and Darling, Australia's two longest rivers. Lake Eyre is the continent's largest lake. It lies on the edge of the Simpson Desert and is a dry salt flat for most of the year. Alice Springs lies in the heart of the continent, close to Ayers Rock (Uluru).

Climate and Vegetation

Only 10% of Australia has an average annual rainfall greater than 1000mm (39in). These areas include some of the tropical n (where Darwin is situated), the ne coast, and the se. The coasts are usually warm and many parts of the s and sw, including Perth, enjoy a Mediterranean climate of dry summers and moist winters. The interior is dry and many rivers are only seasonal. Much of the Western Plateau is desert, although areas of grass and low shrubs are found on its margins. The grasslands of the Central Lowlands are used to raise livestock. The n has areas of savanna and rainforest. In dry areas, acacias are common. Eucalyptus grows in wetter regions.

History and Politics

Native Australians (Aborigines) entered the continent from Southeast Asia more than 50,000 years ago and they settled throughout the country. Their first contact with European explorers, the Dutch, was in the 17th century, though Dutch people did not settle. In 1770 the English explorer Captain James Cook reached Botany Bay and claimed the e coast for Great Britain. In 1788 the first British settlement was established (for convicts) on the site of present-day Sydney. The first free settlers arrived three years later. In the 19th century, the economy developed rapidly, based on mining and sheep-rearing. The continent was divided into colonies, which later became states. In 1901 the states of Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, federated to create the Commonwealth of Australia. Northern Territory joined the federation in 1911. A range of progressive social welfare policies were adopted, such as old-age pensions (1909). The federal capital was established (1927) at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Australia fought as a member of the Allies in both World Wars. The Battle of the Coral Sea (1942) prevented a full-scale attack on the continent. Post-1945 Australia steadily realigned itself with its Asian neighbours. Robert Menzies, Australia's longest-serving prime minister, oversaw many economic and social reforms and dispatched Australian troops to the Vietnam War. In 1977 Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was removed from office by the British Governor General. He was succeeded by Malcolm Fraser. In 1983 elections, the Labor Party defeated Fraser's Liberal Party, and Bob Hawke became prime minister. His shrewd handling of industrial disputes and economic recession helped him win a record four terms in office. In 1991 Hawke was forced to resign as leader and was succeeded by Paul Keating, Paul John. Backed by a series of opinion polls, Keating proposed that Australia should become a republic by 2001. Keating won the 1993 general election and persevered with his free market reforms. In 1996 elections, Keating was defeated by a coalition led by John Howard. In 1998 Howard narrowly secured a second term in office. In a referendum (1999) Australia voted against becoming a republic. In 2000 Sydney hosted the 28th Summer Olympic Games. The historic maltreatment of Native Australians remains a contentious political issue. In 1993 the government passed the Native Title Act which restored to Native Australians land rights over their traditional hunting and sacred areas. Howard secured a third term in 2001 elections. In January 2002, eastern Australia suffered devastating bush fires.


Australia is a prosperous country (2000 GDP per capita, US$23,200). Its economy was originally based on agriculture, although crops can be grown on only 6% of the land. The country remains a major producer and exporter of farm products, particularly cattle, wheat and wool. Grapes grown for winemaking are also important. Australia is rich in natural resources and is a major producer of minerals, such as bauxite, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, silver, tin, tungsten and zinc. Australia also produces some oil and natural gas. The majority of Australia's imports are manufactured products. They include machinery and other capital goods required by factories. The country has a highly developed manufacturing sector; the major products include consumer goods, notably foodstuffs and household articles. Tourism is a vital industry (1998, 4.5% of total GDP).

Political map

Physical map


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Austral Islands

Austral Islands (ô´strəl), volcanic island group (2002 pop. 6,386), South Pacific, part of French Polynesia. They are sometimes known as the Tubuai Islands. The group comprises seven islands, plus islets, with a total land area of c.115 sq mi (300 sq km). Tubuai, the largest island (c.17 sq mi/44 sq km), was visited by Capt. James Cook in 1777 and was annexed by France in 1880. European diseases and slavers very nearly wiped out the native Polynesian population of the islands, especially on Rapa. In 1938, French authorities imposed strict regulations on immigration and tourism. Coffee, arrowroot, tobacco, and copra are produced on the islands.

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Australia (ôstrāl´yə), smallest continent, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. With the island state of Tasmania to the south, the continent makes up the Commonwealth of Australia, a federal parliamentary state (2005 est. pop. 20,090,000), 2,967,877 sq mi (7,686,810 sq km). Australia's capital is Canberra. Its largest city is Sydney, closely followed in population by Melbourne. There are five continental states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, in addition to the aforementioned Tasmania) as well as the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (an enclave within New South Wales, containing Canberra). Australia's external territories include Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and the Australian Antarctic Territory.


The Australian continent extends from east to west some 2,400 mi (3,860 km) and from north to south nearly 2,000 mi (3,220 km). It is on the whole exceedingly flat and dry. Less than 20 in. (50.8 cm) of precipitation falls annually over 70% of the land area. From the narrow coastal plain in the west the land rises abruptly in what, from the sea, appear to be mountain ranges but are actually the escarpments of a rough plateau that occupies the western half of the continent. It is generally from 1,000 to 2,000 ft (305–610 m) high but several mountain ranges rise to nearly 5,000 ft (1,520 m); there are no permanent rivers or lakes in the region. In the southwest corner of the continent there is a small moist and fertile area, but the rest of Western Australia is arid, with large desert areas.

The northern region fronts partly on the Timor Sea, separating Australia from Indonesia; it also belongs to the plateau, with tropical temperatures and a winter dry season. Its northernmost section, Arnhem Land (much of which is an aboriginal reserve), faces the Arafura Sea in the north and the huge Gulf of Carpentaria on the east. On the eastern side of the gulf is the Cape York Peninsula, which is largely covered by woodland. Off the coast of NE Queensland is the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef.

In E Australia are the mountains of the Eastern Highlands, which run down the entire east and southeast coasts. The rivers on the eastern and southeastern slopes run to the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea through narrow but rich coastal plains; the rivers on the western slopes flow either N to the Gulf of Carpentaria or W and SW to the Indian Ocean. The longest of all Australian river systems, the Murray River and its tributaries, drains the southern part of the interior basin that lies between the mountains and the great plateau. The rivers of this area are used extensively for irrigation and hydroelectric power.

Australia, remote from any other continent, has many distinctive forms of plant life—notably species of giant eucalyptus—and of animal life, including the kangaroo, the koala, the flying opossum, the wallaby, the wombat, the platypus, and the spiny anteater; it also has many unusual birds. Foreign animals, when introduced, have frequently done well. Rabbits, brought over in 1788, have done entirely too well, multiplying until by the middle of the 19th cent. they became a distinct menace to sheep raising. In 1907 a fence (still maintained) 1,000 mi (1,610 km) long was built from the north coast to the south to prevent the rabbits from invading Western Australia. Introduced red foxes and feral house cats have reduced many native land mammals through predation.


Most Australians are of British and Irish ancestry and the majority of the country lives in urban areas. The population has more than doubled since the end of World War II, spurred by an ambitious postwar immigration program. In the postwar years, immigration from Greece, Turkey, Italy, and other countries began to increase Australia's cultural diversity. When Australia officially ended (1973) discriminatory policies dating to the 19th cent. that were designed to prevent immigration by nonwhites, substantial Asian immigration followed. By 1988 about 40% of immigration to Australia was from Asia, and by 2005 Asians constituted 7% of the population. Also by 2005 roughly one fourth of all Australians had been born outside the country.

The indigenous population, the Australian aborigines, estimated to number as little as 300,000 and as many as 800,000at the time of the Europeans' arrival, was numbered at 366,429 in 2001. Although still more rural than the general population, the aboriginal population has become more urbanized, with some two thirds living in cities. New South Wales and Queensland account for just over half of the Australian aboriginal population. In Tasmania the aboriginal population was virtually wiped out in the 19th cent.

There is no state religion in Australia. The largest religions are the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other Christian groups. Although education is not a federal concern, government grants have aided in the establishment of state universities including the Univ. of Sydney (1852), the Univ. of Melbourne (1854), the Univ. of Adelaide (1874), and the Univ. of Queensland (in Brisbane, 1909).


Most of the rich farmland and good ports are in the east and particularly the southeast, except for the area around Perth in Western Australia. Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide are the leading industrial and commercial cities. There was considerable industrial development in the last two decades of the 20th cent. While the Australian economy fell into a severe recession in the late 1980s, it experienced an extended period of growth beginning in the 1990s. It then suffered somewhat from the Asian economic slump of the 1990s and from the "Big Dry" drought of the early 21st cent., while also benefiting from increased mineral exports to China during the same period.

Australia is highly industrialized, and manufactured goods account for most of the gross domestic product. Its chief industries include mining, food processing, and the manufacture of industrial and transportation equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, machinery, and motor vehicles. Australia has valuable mineral resources, including coal, iron, bauxite, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, natural gas, and petroleum; the country is an important producer of opals and diamonds.

The country is self-sufficient in food, and the raising of sheep and cattle and the production of grain have long been staple occupations. Tropical and subtropical produce—citrus fruits, sugarcane, and tropical fruits—are also important, and there are numerous vineyards and dairy and tobacco farms.

Australia maintains a favorable balance of trade. Its chief export commodities are coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, cereals, and machinery and transport equipment. The leading imports are machinery, transportation and telecommunications equipment, computers and office machines, crude oil, and petroleum products. Australia's economic ties with Asia and the Pacific Rim have become increasingly important, with China, Japan, and the United States being its main trading partners.


The executive power of the commonwealth is vested in a governor-general (representing the British sovereign) and a cabinet, presided over by the prime minister, which represents the party or coalition holding a majority in the lower house of parliament. The parliament consists of two houses, the Senate, whose 76 members are elected to six- or three-year terms, depending on whether they represent a state or territory, and the House of Representatives, whose 150 members are elected to three-year terms. The distribution of federal and state powers is roughly like that in the United States. British intervention in Australian affairs was formally abolished in 1986. From its early years the federal government has been noted for its liberal legislation, such as woman suffrage (1902), old-age pensions (1909), and maternity allowances (1912). There are four main political parties: Liberal, Labor, National, and Democratic.


Early History and Colonization

The groups comprising the aborigines are thought to have migrated from Southeast Asia. Skeletal remains indicate that aborigines arrived in Australia more than 40,000 years ago, and some evidence suggests that they were active there about 100,000 years ago. The aborigines spread throughout Australia and remained relatively isolated until the arrival of the Europeans. Genetic evidence suggests that c.4,000 years ago there may have been an additional migration of people related to those now found in India.

Australia may have sighted by a Portuguese, Manuel Godhino de Eredia, in 1601 and by a Spaniard, Luis Vaez de Torres, around 1605–6, but Dutchman Willem Janszoon is the first European confirmed to have seen (1606) and landed in Australia. Other Dutch navigators later visited the continent, and the Dutch named it New Holland. In 1688 the Englishman William Dampier landed at King Sound on the northwest coast. Little interest was aroused, however, until the fertile east coast was observed when Capt. James Cook reached Botany Bay in 1770 and sailed N to Cape York, claiming the coast for Great Britain.

In 1788 the first British settlement was made—a penal colony on the shores of Port Jackson, where Sydney now stands. By 1829 the whole continent was a British dependency. Exploration, begun before the first settlement was founded, was continued by such men as Matthew Flinders (1798), Count Paul Strzelecki (1839), Ludwig Leichhardt (1848), and John McDouall Stuart (first to cross the continent, 1862). Australia was long used as a dumping ground for criminals, bankrupts, and other undesirables from the British Isles. Sheep raising was introduced early, and before the middle of the 19th cent. wheat was being exported in large quantities to England. A gold strike in Victoria in 1851 brought a rush to that region. Other strikes were made later in the century in Western Australia. With minerals, sheep, and grain forming the base of the economy, Australia developed rapidly. By the mid-19th cent. systematic, permanent colonization had completely replaced the old penal settlements.

Modern Australia

Confederation of the separate Australian colonies did not come until a constitution, drafted in 1897–98, was approved by the British parliament in 1900. It was put into operation in 1901; under its terms, the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, all of which had by then been granted self-government, were federated in the Commonwealth of Australia. The Northern Territory was added to the Commonwealth in 1911. The new federal government moved quickly to institute high protective tariffs (to restrain competition to Australian industry) and to initiate a strict anti-Asian "White Australia" immigration policy, which was not lifted until 1956.

Australia fought alongside Great Britain in both world wars. During World War I, the nation was part of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac), which fought bravely in many battles, notably in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. During World War II, Darwin, Port Jackson, and Newcastle were bombed or shelled by the Japanese. The Allied victory in the battle of the Coral Sea (1942) probably averted a full-scale attack on Australia. After the war Australia became increasingly active in world affairs, particularly in defense and development projects with its Asian neighbors; it furnished troops to aid the U.S. war effort in South Vietnam. At home, from 1949 to 1972 the government was controlled by a Liberal-Country party coalition with, until 1966, Robert Menzies as prime minister. Gough Whitlam's subsequent Labor government (1972–75), though controversial at the time, introduced social reforms, including increasing nonwhite immigration and improving access to health care and university education, that subsequently transformed Australian society. When a budget crisis with the opposition-controlled senate led to Whitlam's dismissal by the governor-general, the Liberal–National Country coalition, led by Malcolm Fraser, returned to power.

In 1983, Bob Hawke won his first of four terms as prime minister against a coalition of the Liberal and National parties. In 1991, as Australia foundered in a deep recession, Hawke lost the prime ministership to fellow Laborite Paul Keating. Keating led Labor to its fifth consecutive electoral victory in 1993. In the Mar., 1996, elections, however, 13 years of Labor rule were ended by a Liberal-National party coalition led by John Howard, who promised deregulation, smaller government, and other conservative economic reforms. Howard's coalition was reelected, although by a smaller margin, in 1998.

In a 1999 referendum, voters rejected a plan to replace the British monarch as head of state with a president elected by the parliament. In Nov., 2001, after a campaign dominated by issues of nonwhite immigration and national security, Howard's government was returned to office for a third term. In 2002–3, Australia experienced one of the worst droughts of the past 100 years, and wildfires scorched some 7.4 million acres (3 million hectares) of the bush. After Great Britain, Australia was the most prominent supporter militarily of the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003, sending a force of about 2,000 to the Persian Gulf, and the country has taken an increasingly interventionist role in surrounding region, sending forces to the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor to restore law and order.

Benefiting from a prosperous economy, Howard led his coalition to a fourth consecutive term, winning a strong mandate in the Oct., 2004, national elections. In Jan., 2005, the country again experienced deadly bush fires, in South Australia. The Sydney area was stunned by several days of ethnically-based mob violence (between Australians of European and Middle Eastern descent) in Dec., 2005. A scandal involving kickbacks paid under the oil-for-food program to Saddam Hussein's Iraq by AWB Ltd. (the private Australian wheat-exporting monopoly that formerly was the Australian Wheat Board) threatened in 2006 to entangle Howard's government. The government admitted in March that, despite previous denials, it was aware there were charges that AWB was paying kickbacks, but said officials had received assurances from AWB that no payments had been made. Late in 2006 the commission investigating AWB cleared government officials (but not AWB officials) of criminal activity.

Relations with the Solomon Islands became tense in 2006 when Australia criticized a Solomons investigation into the post-election unrest there in April as a potential whitewash. The appointment as Solomons attorney general of Julian Moti, an Australian of Fijian descent who was wanted in Australia on child sex charges, further strained relations. Australia sought Moti's extradition from Papua New Guinea, where he was arrested (Sept., 2006) but managed to flee with apparent help from the Solomons embassy; Australia continued to seek Moti's extradition after he illegally entered the Solomons and was held there. Moti was ultimately deported (2007) to Australia, but in 2009 the charges against him were permanently stayed.

By late 2006, Australia was experiencing its sixth dry year in a row, and many observers termed the worsening "Big Dry" as the worst in the nation's history; 2003 and 2006 were especially dry years. In 2007 and especially 2008 there was improved rainfall in parts of E Australia, but drought conditions continued in many areas. Parliamentary elections in Nov., 2007, brought the Labor party into office; party leader Kevin Rudd, a former diplomat, became prime minister. The Rudd government embarked on significant reversals of Howard's policies, promising to withdraw Australian combat troops from Iraq, moving to adopt the Kyoto Protocal on climate change, and apologizing to the aborigines for Australia's past mistreatment of them.

Australia experienced several severe natural disasters in early 2009. Queensland suffered from significant and widespread flooding due to cyclone rains in Jan. and Feb., 2009; additional significant coastal flooding occurred in Queensland and New South Wales in May. In Feb.–Mar., 2009, SE Australia suffered the worst outbreak of bushfires in the nation's history; more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) were burned and some 170 people died, with the worst devastation NE of Melbourne, Victoria. Rudd lost popularity in 2010 over his backdown on carbon trading and his support for increased mining taxes, and in June Julia Gillard, his deputy, mounted a leadership challenge, leading him to step aside. Gillard succeeded Rudd as Labor party leader and prime minister, becoming Australia's first woman prime minister.

In early elections that Gillard called for Aug., 2010, neither of the main parties won a majority. Although the Liberal-National coalition narrowly won a plurality of the seats, Gillard and Labor secured the support of enough independents in parliament to cling to power. In 2010 significant rains finally ended drought conditions in most areas of Australia (except SW Australia). Areas of E Australia were flooded in late 2010 and early 2011 due to heavy rains; the floods were especially devastating and extensive in E Queensland. In Feb., 2012, and again in Mar., 2013, Gillard survived leadership challenges from Rudd, but in June, 2013, she lost the party leadership to Rudd (who now was regarded as more popular than her) and he succeeded her as prime minister. In the Sept., 2013, general election the Liberal-National coalition soundly defeated Labor, and Liberal leader Tony Abbott became prime minister. The country signed a free-trade agreement with China, its most important trade partner, in 2015.


See Sir Archibald Price, Island Continent: Aspects of the Historical Geography of Australia and its Territories (1972); A. G. Shaw, The Story of Australia (4th ed. 1972); J. Bessett, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Australian History (1987); R. Hughes, The Fatal Shore (1987); B. Hofmeister, Australia and Its Urban Centres (1988); D. Money, Australia Today (1989); K. Hancock, ed., Australian Society (1989); S. L. Goldberg and F. B. Smith, Australian Cultural History (1989); K. Hancock, ed., Australian Society (1990); T. Keneally, Australia: Beyond the Dreamtime (1989) and A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia (2006).

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Commonwealth of Australia

Commonwealth of Australia: see Australia.

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Culture Name


Alternative Names

"Aussie" is a colloquialism that was used during World War I to refer to Australian-born people of British or Irish ancestry. Initially used to describe a happy-go-lucky character capable of battling through hard times, the term was employed after World War II to distinguish those born domestically from "new" immigrants from western and southern Europe. The term continues to have meaning as a label for Australians representing their country. Among some sectors of society, "Aussie" is regarded as Eurocentric and anachronistic in a nation officially committed to ethnic and racial inclusiveness.


Identification. The name "Australia" was formally adopted and popularized in 1817 by the British governor of the colony of New South Wales. The title was suggested in 1814 and derives from the Latin terra australis incognita ("the unknown south land") which had been used by mapmakers for centuries before European colonization.

Since its days as a British colony Australia has developed a complex national culture with immigrants from many parts of the world as well as an indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The strong sense of societal and historical distinctiveness among the different states and territories has not developed into major subcultural diversity based on geographic regions.

For much of the nation's history, there has been a focus on assimilating different cultural groups into the dominant British Australian traditions; however, in the early 1970s a more pluralist policy of multiculturalism came to prominence. In 1988, bicentennial events were promoted officially as the "celebration of a nation." A commitment was made to the idea that Australia is a collectivity of diverse peoples living in a relatively young society. However, the divisions within the nation continue to find expression in public life, arising from social differences in race, ethnicity, social class, and gender.

Location and Geography. Australia is an island continent in the Southern Hemisphere, lying between Antarctica and Asia. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean to the west; the Timor, Arafura, and Coral Seas to the north; the Pacific Ocean to the east; and the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean to the south. Much of the continent is low, flat, and dry. The area of the continent is 2.97 million square miles (7.69 million square kilometers).

Although the impact of environmental variation is highly evident in the traditional cultures of indigenous Australians, it has not been as strong a factor in immigrant cultures. The most significant lifestyle differences are affected primarily by variations in climate.

Australia has six states (Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, and Queensland) and two territories (the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory), whose capital cities are, respectively, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, and Canberra. The majority of the population lives in urban areas around the coast.

The capital city, Canberra, is located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The ACT was created in 1909, and the city of Canberra was designed by an American landscape architect in 1912. The Commonwealth Parliament relocated there from Melbourne in 1927. Canberra has a population of over 300,000 and is the largest inland city.

Demography. According to the 1986 census, the total population was just over 15.5 million. By 1992 the population had risen to 17.5 million, and in 1996 it reached 18.3 million. In the year 2000, that number is expected to reach 19 million. In 1997, 4.3 million (23 percent) residents were born overseas. Roughly 2 percent of the population consists of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, descendants of the original inhabitants of the continent before European colonization. This sector of the population has a higher birthrate than do the others, but also has a higher mortality rate and lower life expectancy. In 1996 the population self-identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander was 372,000, probably about the same as in 1788; many of those people have both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry.

Linguistic Affiliation. The dominant language since colonization has been English, with little multi-lingualism among the majority population. Nevertheless, both the diverse Aboriginal groups and many immigrants continue to use languages other than English.

Before the European invasion there were around 250 Aboriginal languages, most of which probably had distinct dialects. Perhaps ninety of these languages are still spoken, with around twenty being spoken fluently by indigenous children. The decline in the use of Aboriginal languages is due to the effects of colonization. Among some Aboriginal groups, especially in parts of the north, a number of distinctive creole dialects mix Aboriginal languages with English.

Apart from indigenous languages, some twelve major community languages are spoken at home by at least fifty thousand speakers. These are, in order of the number of speakers, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, German, Vietnamese, Spanish, Polish, Macedonian, Filipino languages, and Maltese. Melbourne is the most multilingual city. Migrant groups want their languages to be maintained through government policies such as the Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program in secondary schools.

Australian English probably originated as a combination of British regional dialects used by groups of convicts and others who came to the colonies. Australian English is different from British and American English but does not vary much regionally. Various social factors affect accent and style, including social class, education, gender (women tend to use the cultivated variety more than men do), and age.

Symbolism. The flag is dark blue with the British Union Jack in the upper left corner, the seven pointed white Commonwealth star below the Union Jack, and to the right five white stars representing the Southern Cross constellation. The national animal emblem is the kangaroo, the floral emblem is the golden wattle tree, and the national colors are green and gold. The national coat of arms is a shield supported by a kangaroo and an emu amid branches of wattle. Until 1984 the national anthem was the British "God Save the Queen," but it was changed to "Advance Australia Fair" as part of a movement toward asserting greater separation from the legacy of the colonial power.

These formal symbols have assisted in the establishment of a national consciousness. A highly symbolic national event held annually is Anzac Day which marks the landing and subsequent gallant defeat of Australian troops at Gallipoli during World War I. Throughout the country war memorials and monuments acknowledge the achievements and sacrifices made by Australians in that and other wars.

Flora and fauna native to the continent, such as the kangaroo, koala, emu, and wattle, are symbols of the national ethos, especially in international and national contexts, although this is also the case for unique buildings such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The beach is recognized as a symbol of the national culture.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Australian began as a British penal colony in the eighteenth century, and its national character has formed predominantly through the mechanisms of immigration and race relations. Other factors that have shaped the national culture include the early small female population relative to that of men, which is said to have laid the foundations for a widespread ideology of mateship. The involvement of Australian and New Zealand (Anzac) troops in World War I has been characterized as the symbolic birth of the nation.

A further impetus for the formation of a national culture was the myth of the rural bushman, which developed around early phases of the historical establishment of pastoral and agricultural industries. The "bush" mythology has continued to influence conceptions of the national character despite the fact that the population has always been concentrated in urban coastal centers. The relatively sunny climate has facilitated an image of a sporting, outdoor, beach-loving culture represented by images such as the bronzed Aussie surfer.

National Identity. After the invasion in 1788 by British colonists, the indigenous population was dominated by force. Aboriginal societies across the continent experienced violence and disease. After colonization a general history of discrimination and racism was mixed with a range of more benevolent policies. Of lasting effect was the policy of assimilating Aboriginal people into the mainstream culture. The historical stress on assimilation had its most dramatic impact on the children of mixed AboriginalEuropean descent who, especially in the first half of the twentieth century, were taken from their Aboriginal parents so that they could be "civilized" and raised in "white" society. These individuals have become known collectively as the "stolen generations" and public acknowledgment of their plight is an important part of the process of reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples and other Australians.

The ideology of assimilation permeated relations not only with the indigenous population but also with immigrants. The early British Protestant colonists were bolstered by the arrival of Irish Catholic settlers who eventually (through their involvement in the development of a Catholic education system and their representation in government) became incorporated into the dominant cultural group. Since that time Australia has been defined as an Anglo-fragment society in which British or Anglo-Celtic culture was and remains dominant. However, immigration over the last two centuries has created a nation that is among the most culturally diverse in the world.

The intergenerational reproduction of minority ethnic identities has produced a national culture that is multicultural, polyethnic, and cosmopolitan. Since the 1970s this diversity has been encouraged through progressive equity legislation that promotes recognition of difference and tolerance of diversity. Nevertheless, multicultural policy has been dominated by a culturalist philosophy in which linguistic and lifestyle (food, dress) diversity has been recognized more readily than have the structural economic difficulties of some immigrant groups. Despite the focus on cultural diversity, the Anglo-Celtic heritage continues to dominate most institutional aspects of society, including the media, the legal system, public education, and the system of health care.

Ethnic Relations. The first migrants were Chinese, attracted by the 1850s and 1860s gold rushes. Fear of miscegenation and xenophobia and the consequent race riots resulted in restrictive legislation against the importation of Pacific and Chinese labor. However, immigration was viewed as important; a well known catch phrase was "populate or perish," reflecting the rationale that population growth would aid both defense and economic development.

The Federation of States in 1901 coincided with the implementation of one of the most influential governmental policies affecting the development of the national culture: The Immigration Restriction Act. This "White Australia Policy" was aimed primarily at combating the perceived "yellow peril" represented by immigrants from neighboring Asian countries. Throughout much of the twentieth century, migrants were selected according to a hierarchy of desirability that was broadened as preferred sources dried up. The British were always at the top of the list, and a number of government subsidies and settlement schemes were implemented to encourage their immigration.

Immigration thus can be defined as a series of waves, with the British dominating until the 1940s, followed by northern Europeans (including displaced persons from World War I), southern Europeans (predominantly in the postWorld War II period), and eventually, after the White Australia Policy was abandoned in 1972, Asians. Immigration has declined since the 1980s, and it is now difficult to gain entry. The number of migrants has become an issue of debate, particularly in regard to uninvited refugees.

Australia's long history of immigration and the increasing ethnic diversity of its population have spurred debates about the definition of an Australian. Many Aboriginal and Asian citizens still experience a sense of alienation and exclusion from acceptance as "real" Aussies and in difficult economic times often become political and social scapegoats. However, concerted efforts have been made to present these groups in a positive and inclusive light.

New Zealand is the national culture related most closely to Australia. New Zealanders have special entry rights, and there have been large population flows in both directions. Australians and New Zealanders compete energetically in areas such as sport but cooperate closely in international relations.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

There has always been a high concentration of urban and suburban dwellers, partly because the harsh physical environment has encouraged people to remain close to the fertile coastal areas. In 1991, 70 percent of Australians lived in thirteen cities that had more than 100,000 people and 39 percent of the population lived in Sydney and Melbourne. Notions of national identity have long been framed around a distinction between the city and the bush, with urban and rural dwellers articulating different economic and social interests.

The cities are characterized by lowdensity housing and dependence on private cars. In recent decades there has been increased innercity redevelopment aimed at attracting locals and tourists to central public shopping and recreational areas.

Across cities and towns, significant icons in public spaces include war memorials, sporting grounds, and prominent structures such as the new Parliament House in Canberra. Also of great importance are the "natural" icons such as Uluru, a huge sandstone monolith in Central Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches down the east coast of northern Queensland. Major development projects are celebrated as national achievements, especially the Snowy Mountains and Ord River schemes, which were constructed from the 1950s to the 1970s to bring irrigated water to agricultural areas. The Snowy Mountains project generates hydroelectric power and is regarded as the nation's greatest engineering feat.

Personal home ownership is a common goal, and the nation has one of the highest home ownership rates in the world. In recent decades homes have become larger with more bedrooms and bathrooms, designs have created greater internal spaciousness, and more elaborate fittings and household possessions have been obtained. The quality of private dwellings, however, varies considerably with a household's level of income. Since the 1960s housing has been more diverse in style and size, but the conventional singlestory separate house remains predominant.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Before colonization, Aboriginal peoples were sustained by a diverse range of flora and fauna. The early settlers primarily consumed meat (at first native animals, later beef and mutton), bread, and vegetables, particularly potatoes.

Nearly all regularly eaten foodsexcept seafoodwere introduced after European settlement. However, there have been considerable changes in food preference patterns. In the 1940s meat consumption began to decline, poultry consumption increased dramatically after the 1960s, and there has been a doubling of seafood consumption since the 1930s, in addition to a steady increase in fruit and vegetable consumption since the 1950s.

Since World War II the diet has become highly diversified. Each wave of immigrants has had an impact, including German, Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Jewish, and Southeast Asian foods and cooking styles. Olive and vegetable oils have replaced dripping and lard, and items such as garlic and Asian condiments are used more commonly.

Australian chefs are known worldwide for their "fusion cuisine," a blending of European cooking traditions with Asian flavors and products. Nevertheless, certain foods are recognized as national emblems, including Vegemite (a yeast extract spread), Milo (a powdered base for chocolate milk drinks), Anzac biscuits (oat biscuits sent to soldiers in World War I), and damper (a wheat flour-based loaf traditionally cooked in the ashes of a fire by settlers).

Australians are among the world leaders in fast-food consumption. Burger and chicken chain stores are prominent in the suburbs, having displaced the traditional meat pies and fish and chips. While Australians were long known as tea drinkers, coffee and wine have become increasingly popular. Before World War II Australians drank about twenty times more beer than wine; beer consumption remains high, but wine drinking has increased at a much greater rate, and the country has become a significant exporter of wine.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. No foods are reserved for special occasions, although the religious traditions of some ethnic groups include ceremonial foods. Easter and Christmas are observed by most of the population. Christmas usually is celebrated as it is in Britain, with roast turkey, ham, and roast vegetables followed by a steamed fruit pudding. However, there is an increasing tendency for Christmas to involve a light seafood meal, and barbecues are becoming popular as well. Instead of pudding, many people have ice cream cakes or cold desserts such as pavlova (made from egg whites and sugar). Some people celebrate "Christmas in July," using the coldest month of the year to enjoy the hot dinner of a traditional Christmas.

Special meals are eaten among ethnic groups to celebrate Easter or Passover. Molded chocolate products (Easter eggs) are given to children at this time.

Basic Economy. After forty years of settlement, when there was little scope for industrial or commercial enterprises, the pastoral industry became a key force in economic development. In particular, growth in the wool industry was associated with advances in the rest of the economy. Gold surpassed wool as the nation's major export in the 1850s and 1860s, resulting in a rapid expansion of banking and commerce.

From federation until 1930 there was some expansion in manufacturing industries, and with the onset of World War II, the manufacturing sector was developed to respond to the demand for war materials and equipment. Some industries expanded and new ones were developed rapidly to produce munitions, ships, aircraft, machinery, chemicals, and textiles.

After the war exports consisted mainly of primary commodities such as wool, wheat, coal, and metals. High tariffs and other controls were imposed on most imported goods. Although many of those controls were lifted in the 1960s, effective rates of protection remained high. The government continues to be involved in the operation of some public enterprises, including railways, electricity, and post offices and telecommunications. There remains a government interest in the Commonwealth Bank.

A move toward privatization at the state and commonwealth levels of government has been gaining momentum since the early 1980s. Some states, such as Victoria, have embraced this move much more than others have. Australia is highly integrated into the global capitalist economy. Since World War II, much trade has been redirected from Britain and Europe to the Asia-Pacific region, especially Japan. A related trend has been the growth of mineral exports since the mid1960s.

Land Tenure and Property. When the British took control of the continent in 1788, they deemed it terra nullius (land that was not owned). According to British law all Australian land was the property of the Crown. In the last two decades of the eighteenth century, land grants were made to emancipated convicts, free settlers, marines, and officers. Land was available to anyone prepared to employ and feed the convicts who were assigned to it as servants. In 1825 sale of land by private tender was introduced.

Land is held as freehold (privately owned through purchase), leasehold (pastoralists and others are given special usage rights for a specified numbers of years), national parks, and Crown Land, which effectively remains under the control of the government. In 1992 a new form of rights in land was legally recognized"native title"as a form of continuing Aboriginal and islander connection with the land. To the extent that a system of indigenous customary law can be shown to have continued from the time of European establishment of sovereignty, these groups can make claims to their traditional lands.

Commercial Activities. The economy is strong in the service sector in relation to goods-producing industries. Those industries, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, construction, and energy, contributed around 31 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) during the mid-1990s, while the services industries contributed 60 percent. Goods-producing industries provided around a quarter of employment, with the rest provided by service industries.

Service industries include distribution industries (wholesale trade, retail trade, accommodation, cafés and restaurants, and transport and storage) and communication and business services (communications, finance and insurance, and property services). Other service industries are government administration and defense, education, health and community services, and cultural and recreational services.

Major Industries. In 1996 and 1997, manufacturing was the most significant sector. Wholesale trade was the only other industry to contribute over 10 percent of GDP, manufacturing accounted for 12 percent of total employment, behind retail at 15 percent. Another major contributor was the property and business services industry. Primary industries in mining and agriculture are of key economic importance. The development of large mines in some remote regions has been associated with the establishment of towns and increased employment.

Trade. In order of economic significance, Australia's current major trading partners include the United States, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand. Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of wool, meat, and wheat and a major supplier of sugar, dairy products, fruits, cotton, and rice.

Major imports include passenger motor vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and crude petroleum oils.

Division of Labor. There has been considerable upward socioeconomic mobility, but there is some inequality in the distribution of work. Unemployment has been a problem in recent years, and for some people only part-time or casual employment is available. Youth unemployment is a major problem in some regions.

Australia is increasingly shifting toward an information economy that relies on a high-skill base. Thus, the workers most at risk of unemployment are laborers, factory workers, and those who learn their skills on the job. Highly skilled managers, medical practitioners, teachers, computer professionals, and electricians have the lowest risk of unemployment.

There has been a widening gap between rich and poor over the past fifteen to twenty years and the household income gap between the poorest and richest neighborhoods has grown considerably. A substantial number of people live below the poverty line.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The three main social classes are the working class, the middle class, and the upper class, but the boundaries between these groups are a matter of debate. The wealthiest 5 to 10 percent are usually regarded as upper class, with their wealth derived from ownership and control of property and capital. The growing middle class is defined as individuals with nonmanual occupations.

Nonmanual workers typically earn more than manual workers, although upper-level manual workers such as tradespeople earn more than those in sales and personal service positions. The professions, which include such occupations as accountants, computing specialists, engineers, and medical doctors, have been one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Since the 1980s the number of manual workers has been in decline.

Manual workers form the nucleus of the working class; 20 to 40 percent self-identify with this category. Class consciousness includes the acknowledgment of class divisions, but there is also a broad commitment to an ethic of egalitarianism. Australians commonly believe that socioeconomic mobility is possible and exhibit a basic tolerance and acceptance of inequality associated with social class.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The upper-class can be signified by expensive clothes, motor vehicles, and homes. In particular, the economic value of housing and other real estate properties varies greatly across different suburbs in all cities.

However, class is not always evident from clothes, cars, and living circumstances. Middle-class people from economically wealthy backgrounds may mask their prosperity according to fashion, choice, or participation in particular subcultures. Young people such as students may dress to mimic imagined styles valued for their symbolic rejection of wealth, and some working-class families go into debt to purchase expensive cars and other commodities.

Patterns of speech, consumption patterns associated with entertainment and the arts, and participation in certain sports may be useful indicators of class.

Political Life

Government. Australia is a parliamentary democracy based on the British system of government. Federal, state, and territorial elections are held every three or four years. Voting is compulsory at the federal and state levels but not at the local government level. There are two houses of the federal and state parliaments except in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory.

Core features of the political party system derive from early twentieth-century arrangements that followed the federation of the states into a commonwealth. There are two major political parties: the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Liberal Party. The National Party (formerly the Country Party) allies itself with the conservative Liberal Party. The other large political parties are the Australian Democrats and the Green Party.

Since federation, the constitution has been changed only reluctantly through referenda. In 1999 there was a vote rejecting the proposition that Australia become a republic, ceasing to have an office of governor-general as a representative of the British monarch and thus as the titular head of state. Some argue that the society is already a de facto republic since the constitution has entrenched the primacy of popular sovereignty. The British Union Jack on the flag is for some people an acknowledgment of historical ties with Britain, while for others it is a reason to change the constitution to emphasize the independence of the nation.

Leadership and Political Officials. There are three levels of government leadership: the prime minister in the federal government, the state premiers, and the mayors in local government. All officials are elected democratically. At the federal level the governor-general is appointed by the government, as are governors at the state level. Federal and state/territorial governments operate through departments that are organized bureaucratically and hierarchically. High-ranking officials are important in the administration of policies and laws.

Social Problems and Control. In the legal system authority is divided between states and territories and the commonwealth. The judicial system is based on the common law of England. The criminal justice system consists of the state and commonwealth agencies and departments responsible for dealing with crime and related issues. The federal criminal justice system deals with offenses against commonwealth laws, and the state systems deal with offenses against state laws. Criminal law is administered mainly through the commonwealth, state, and territorial police forces; the National Crime Authority; and the state and territorial corrective or penal services. Crimes such as stealing are more common than crimes against individuals, such as assault.

Military Activity. The defense forces operate according to three basic priorities: defeating attacks from outside the country, defending the nation's regional interests, and supporting a global security environment that discourages international aggression. Australia has a volunteer army reserve but no national service requirement. There is a navy, an army, and an air force. Twelve percent of regular service positions are held by women.

The nation's strategic stance is broadly defensive, with the expectation that armed force will be used only to defend national interests. The Defence Force has been called on frequently, to assist in international security and humanitarian crises in the Middle East, Namibia, and Cambodia as well as in humanitarian crises in Somalia and Rwanda. The most recent military activity has been peacekeeping in East Timor. The Defence Force also has played a key role in responding to major floods and fires, and its services are called on in search and rescue missions.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The approach to social welfare is based on the notions of "a fair go" for all and egalitarianism. Since the 1970s, legislation has promoted equity and equal access to services for all citizens, often to improve the chances of the disadvantaged. This history of helping "the battler" has been challenged by notions of economic rationalism.

Pertinent social welfare issues include rising unemployment, an aging population, child care, assisting people from diverse cultural backgrounds, assisting people in remote areas, and poverty. Approximately two million people live below the poverty line.

A host of social welfare provisions have been enacted throughout the nation's history. Australia was one of the first countries to give women the vote. It also was the first country to legislate a forty-hour working week (in 1948).

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

The government maintains continuing relationships with many large and small Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are active in human rights and community services (Amnesty International, Australian Red Cross, Defense for Children International, and International Women's Development Agency). NGOs provide relevant needs-based community services and welfare and promote changes in government policies and activities. Most not-for-profit NGOs were created by religious organizations to meet perceived needs or by community members to deal with a specific problem (Salvation Army, Brotherhood of Saint Lawrence, Care Australia). The government encourages the existence of charitable NGOs through tax exemptions and liberal laws of association and incorporation. Often, NGOs are established in response to immediate or emergency social problems. The government will intervene when resources are not being used efficiently and when services are being duplicated.

NGOs, particularly those in the nonprofit sector, are major providers of welfare services and significant contributors in the health, education, sport, recreation, entertainment, and finance industries. The bulk of their revenue comes from government grants, private donations, and service fees.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. British ideas and practices involving gender were imported with colonization. Women tend to be associated with the private sphere, unpaid work, and the home, while men tend to be associated with the public sphere, paid work, and the larger society. This division was particularly pronounced in the early years of settlement, when free settler women were seen as homemakers who brought civility to the male population. Migrant women have been valued for their ability to create settled families and generally have entered the country as dependents.

Traditionally, occupation has been sex-segregated, with women predominating as domestics and in the "caring professions," such as teaching and nursing. However, sex discrimination and affirmative action policy since the late 1970s has been directed toward promoting gender equality in all spheres. As a consequence, there have been increases in women's participation in secondary and higher education as well as in the general workforce and an increase in the availability of child care.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Many areas of social, economic, political, and religious life remain gendered, generally to the disadvantage of women. Women are underrepresented in scientific occupations, managerial positions, and the professions and overrepresented in administrative and clerical positions. Women earn on average less than men do and spend more time than men doing unpaid domestic work.

Women's right to vote in federal elections was included in the constitution of 1901. Nevertheless, the progress of women in entering public office was slow. In 1995 women's representation in local, state and federal government was around 20 percent. Although women are more likely to spend time on religious activities than men, the majority of religious ministers are male.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Most heterosexual couples marry for love and to confirm a long-term emotional, financial, and sexual commitment. Arranged marriages occur in some ethnic groups, but are not considered desirable by most people. Marriage is not essential for a cohabiting relationship or child rearing, but nearly 60 percent of people over fifteen years of age are married. The law grants members of de facto relationships legal rights and responsibilities equivalent to those of formally married couples. Homosexual couples are not recognized by law as married regardless of a long-term relationship. Marriage occurs with a civil or religious ceremony conducted by a registered official and can take place in any public or private location. The ceremony usually is followed by a celebration with food, drink, and music. Guests provide gifts of household goods or money, and the parents of the couple often make substantial contributions to the cost of the wedding. No other official exchange of property occurs.

Divorce has been readily available since 1975 and involves little stigma. It requires a one-year separation period and occurs in approximately 40 percent of first marriages. Upon divorce, the husband and wife agree to divide their mutual property and child-rearing responsibilities; law courts and mediators sometimes to assist with this process. Remarriage is common and accepted. A significant trend in family formation is a dramatic increase in the proportion of marriages preceded by a period of cohabitation.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is widely considered the norm; the most common household unit in the 1996 census was the couple, followed closely by the couple with dependent children, then the one-parent family with dependent children, the couple with nondependent children, and other family groups.

A pervasive myth is that the extended family does not exist and that society is composed of nuclear families cut off from extended kin. While most people live in couple-only or nuclear family households, the extended family is an important source of support for most people. Blended families and stepfamilies with children from former marriages are becoming more common.

Inheritance. Citizens have "testamentary freedom" or the right to declare how they wish their property to be distributed after death. With this freedom, individuals can legally enforce their cultural practices. They also can choose to remove relatives from the will and pass their property to a charitable organization or an unrelated person. If an individual dies without a valid will, the property is distributed to the spouse, then the children of the deceased, and then the parents and other kin. If there are no relatives, the property goes to the Crown.

Kin Groups. Broad kin groups are not a significant feature of the national culture, but extended families exist across households and are the basis for emotional, financial, and social support. Many minority ethnic groups recognize kin networks of considerable breadth. Aboriginal cultures encompass principles of traditional kinship in which large networks of relatives form the significant communities of everyday life.


Infant Care. Child rearing varies considerably with the country of origin, class background, the education and occupation of the parents, and the religious group to which a family belongs. While most practices are aimed at developing a responsible and independent child, Aboriginal and many migrant families tend to indulge young children more than do most Anglo-Celtic parents. Some ethnic groups supervise their young more strictly than the dominant Anglo-Celtic population, encouraging them to mix only with family and friends, be dependent on the family, and leave decision making to the parents.

Child Rearing and Education. Mothers are the preferred primary caretakers, although fathers are taking increasing responsibility for child care. In the past mothers were not as isolated in their child care responsibilities, receiving help from older children, extended kin, and neighbors. The reduction in family and household size in recent years has meant that the burden of care falls largely on mothers. There is significant variation in ideas about good parenting, reflecting the diverse cultural values and traditions of parents' ethnic background. Practices justified by recent scientific research usually are considered the best. In the past the values most prized in children were obedience and deference, but today good parenting is commonly associated with having assertive and independent children. There are no formal initiation ceremonies for the "national culture," although the twenty-first birthday often is celebrated as a rite of passage into adulthood.

Access to high-quality education is considered the right of all citizens, and the government provides compulsory primary and secondary schooling for children between ages six and fifteen. Most schools are fully funded by the government. The remainder are nongovernment schools that receive nearly half their funding from fees and private sources such as religious associations. Attendance at nongovernment schools has been increasing since the 1970s because it is felt that independent schooling provides better educational and employment opportunities. Preschool centers are available for children younger than age six. Nongovernment schools are mainly Catholic. Education is aimed at providing children with social and workplace skills. Educational methods vary depending on particular requirements; for example, education for children in remote rural locations relies heavily on advanced communication technologies. Guidelines have been established in all states for dealing with children with special educational needs, such as those with disabilities and those who are intellectually gifted. Some schools with a high percentage of Aboriginal and/or migrant pupils have special language policies that include instruction in languages other than English.

Higher Education. Higher education is considered to offer the best employment opportunities. Consequently, tertiary education has become more widely available and is undertaken by an increasingly larger proportion of the population. It is available in two forms: universities and institutions of technical and further education (TAFE). In 1992, 37 percent of women and 47 percent of men received post-school qualifications, and 12.3 percent of the labor force held university degrees in 1993. Universities also attract substantial numbers of overseas students. The government is responsible for funding most universities and institutions, with increasing contributions being made by students in the form of fees and postgraduation tax payments.


A predominant image among Australians is that they are very casual, easygoing, and familiar. First names are used commonly as terms of address. An ideology of egalitarianism pervades, with men, women, and children treated similarly. Attempts at appearing superior to others in terms of dress, manners, knowledge, and the work ethic are discouraged. A handshake is the most common way to greet a new acquaintance, and a hug, a kiss on the cheek, or a verbal greeting the most common way to greet a friend. The colloquialism, "g'day" (good day), is considered the quintessential greeting.

There is an easy friendliness in public places. Personal privacy is respected and staring is discouraged, although eye contact is not avoided. Eye contact during conversation is considered polite among the general population; averting the eyes during conversation is considered a sign of respect among Aboriginal people. When a line is forming, new arrivals must go to the end. In museums and exhibitions voices are hushed. In performance contexts the audience is expected to be silent and attentive. Service attendants consider themselves equal to their guests, and usually are not subservient. Australians also resist being "served." Food may be eaten in the street, but meals usually are eaten at a table, with each person having his or her own plate and eating utensils. Bodily functions are considered inevitable but are not discussed or performed in public.


Religious Beliefs. The constitution guarantees religious freedom, and while there is no official national religion, Australia generally is described as a Christian country. British colonists brought the Anglican belief system in 1788, and three-quarters of the population continues to identify with some form of Christianity, predominantly the Catholic and Anglican faiths. Until recently almost all businesses closed for Christian religious holidays.

Extensive immigration has made Australia one of the most religiously diverse societies in the world. Almost all faiths are represented, with significant numbers of Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and Hindus. Many indigenous Australians have embraced Christianity, often as a result of their contact with missionaries and missions.

Religious alternatives such as spiritualism and Theosophy have had a small but steady presence since the 1850s. A growing set of beliefs is represented by the so-called New Age movement, which arrived in the 1960s and evolved into the widespread alternative health and spirituality movement of the 1990s. This has opened the way for an interest in paganism and other aspects of the occult among a minority of citizens.

Religious Practitioners. There has been an increase in lay religious practitioners in the Christian churches in recent times as a result of decrease in the number of people entering the clergy. Most religious institutions are hierarchical in structure. Religious specialists participate in pastoral care, parish administration, and fund-raising for missions. Many also maintain a host of institutions that deal with education, aged care, family services, immigration, health, youth, and prisoner rehabilitation.

Rituals and Holy Places. Every religious denomination has its own places of worship, and most expect their followers to attend religious services regularly. There has been a decline in regular church attendance among the younger generation of Christians, who tend to be critical of church policy and practice. Places of worship are considered sacred and include locations that hold spiritual significance for believers. Among certain ethnic groups shrines are established in places where saints are said to have appeared. There are many Aboriginal sacred sites, which are generally places in the landscape.

Death and the Afterlife. The law requires that deceased people be dealt with according to health regulations. A vigil over the body in the family home is practiced in some religious and cultural traditions. Funeral parlors prepare the body of the deceased for cremation or burial in a cemetery. Funerals are attended by family members and friends and often include a religious ceremony.

Medicine and Health Care

Most medical health care is subsidized or paid for by the government, for which a small levy is paid by all citizens. Public hospitals often provide free services. People can select a private general practitioner, usually in their neighborhood. The general practitioner provides referrals to specialist doctors where necessary, and payment is usually on a feefor-service basis. Health professionals may work privately or in a hospital setting. In recent years there has been an attempt to increase the level of private health insurance coverage among citizens.

Prevention of illness is a high priority of the government, with several programs such as vaccination, public health warnings about smoking and AIDS, public education campaigns on nutrition and exercise, and public awareness campaigns regarding heavy drinking and illicit drugs. Individuals are held to be responsible for their own health problems, and most investment goes to individually oriented, high-technology curative medicine. In the 1970s community health centers were established to focus on groups with special needs, such as women, migrants, and Aboriginal people. These centers provide more holistic care by addressing personal and social problems as well as health conditions.

Increasing numbers of people combine Western medicine with traditional and New Age practices. This may include Chinese herbalists, iridology, and homeopathic medicine. These alternative forms of medical treatment generally are not subsidized by the government.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides emergency medical assistance to those in remote areas. It was founded in 1928 and is funded by government and public donations. The service also provides emergency assistance during floods and fires.

Secular Celebrations

Probably the most significant national secular celebration is Anzac Day on 25 April. This is a public holiday that commemorates the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps landing at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915. However, the event now encompasses participants in all wars in which Australia has been involved. Dawn services are held at war memorials and there are well-attended street parades. On Remembrance Day (11 November), which is not a public holiday, a two-minute silence is observed in remembrance of Australians who fought and died in wars.

Australia Day is celebrated on 26 January to commemorate British settlement, and many capital cities host a fireworks event. Boxing Day occurs on 26 December. The Boxing Day cricket test match is an annual event watched on television by many residents. The day also is treated as an opportunity to extend Christmas socializing, with many barbecues taking place in public parks or at private homes.

Labour Day is a public holiday to commemorate improved working conditions and the implementation of the eight-hour workday. It is celebrated at different times of the year in different states. A significant celebration occurs on Melbourne Cup Day, an annual horse-racing event in Melbourne. Many people attending the race dress formally, and employees in workplaces gather to watch the event on television.

New Year's Day and New Year's Eve are celebrated. Royal Easter Shows and Royal Show Days with annual agricultural shows are held in capital cities with exhibits, competitions, and sideshows highlighting the rural tradition. On Grand Final Days, the annual finals to the national Australian Rules and Rugby League football competitions, large crowds gather to watch the game and friends congregate to watch it on television in homes and public bars. Most states have public holidays to commemorate the founding of the first local colony, and there are annual arts festivals that attract local, national, and international artists as well as multicultural festivals. Some states have wine festivals.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Most people who participate in the arts depend on other professions for their primary income. Full-time arts practitioners are usually highly dependent on government funding. The sale of work in graphic arts, multimedia, and literature earns a substantial income for many practitioners, while the performance arts, in particular dance, do not tend to generate enough income to cover their costs. The Australia Council funds artistic activity, provides incomes to arts workers and projects, and is the primary source of income for dance and theater. The film and television industries receive substantial government support and tax incentives. There is government funding for schools of the performing arts. Approximately 10 percent of large businesses provide some form of support or funding to the arts or cultural events.

Literature. Since the 1890s a national literature has been developing with a distinctly Australian voice. This tradition, which is focused largely on the bush as a mythic place in the Australian imagination, has been challenged recently by a new suburban focus for literature. Increasingly, Aboriginal and other authors from diverse cultural backgrounds are having work published and appreciated. Australian authors have won many international awards, and Australians are claimed to be one of the leading nations in per capita spending on books and magazines.

Graphic Arts. Painting was dominated by the European tradition for many years, with landscapes painted to resemble their European counterparts until at least 1850. The Heidelberg school was influential in the late nineteenth century. Social-realist images of immigrants and the working class were favored as more "Australian" by 1950. Since 1945, images of the isolated outback have been popularized by artists such as Russell Drysdale and Sydney Nolan. Aboriginal artists were acknowledged in 1989 with a comprehensive display of their art in the Australian National Gallery. Their work is becoming increasingly successful internationally.

Performance Arts. Each state capital has at least one major performing arts venue. Playwrights have been successful in presenting Australian society to theatergoers. Indigenous performance has been supported by a number of theater and dance companies since the early 1980s. Women's theater achieved a high level of attention during the 1980s. The styles of music, dance, drama, and oratory vary significantly, reflecting the multicultural mix of the society. Annual festivals of arts in the states showcase local and international work and are well attended, in particular by the well educated and the wealthy.

Music styles range from classical and symphonic to rock, pop, and alternative styles. Music is the most popular performance art, attracting large audiences. Pop music is more successful than symphony and chamber music. Many Australian pop musicians have had international success. Comedy and cabaret also attract large audiences and appear to have a large talent pool. Ballet is popular, with over twenty-five hundred schools in the early 1990s. The Australian Ballet, founded in 1962, enjoys a good international reputation.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The sciences are well served in a number of leading fields, including astronomy, chemistry, medicine, and engineering. Funding is provided by a combination of government and industry. Most universities provide scientific programs. The social sciences are not as well funded mainly because they tend not to produce marketable outcomes. Nevertheless, there is a strong representation in disciplines such as psychology, history, economics, sociology, and anthropology in universities. Social scientists work both in their own country and overseas. There is a tradition of social scientists from certain disciplinary backgrounds working in government and social welfare organizations.


Bambrick, S., ed. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Australia,1994.

Bessant, J., and R. Watts, Sociology Australia, 1999.

Bosworth, M. Australian Lives: A History of Clothing, Food and Domestic Technology, 1988.

Carroll, J., ed. Intruders in the Bush: The Australian Quest for Identity, 2nd ed., 1992.

Castles, S., B. Cope, M. Kalantzis, and M. Morrissey. Mistaken Identity: Multiculturalism and the Demise of Nationalism in Australia, 1992.

Clyne, M. "Monolingualism, Multilingualism and the Australian Nation." In Australian National Identity, C.A. Price, ed., 1991.

Commonwealth of Australia. Defending Australia: Defense White Paper, 1994.

Davison, G., J. Hirst, and S. Macintyre, eds. The Oxford Companion to Australian History, 1998.

Forster, C. Australian Cities: Continuity and Change, 1995.

Haralambos, M., R. van Krieken, P. Smith, and M. Holborn, Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1996.

Jose, A.W. History of Australasia, 1917.

Jupp, J., ed. The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins, 1988.

Makin, T. "The Economy" In Institutions in Australian Society, J. Henningham, ed., 1995.

Molony, J. The Penguin Bicentennial History of Australia: The Story of 200 Years, 1987.

Parrinder, G. Worship in the World's Religions, 1976.

Turnbull, C. A Concise History of Australia, 1983.

Van Sommers, T. Religions in Australia, 1966.

Web Sites

ABS 1999 Australian Bureau of Statistics Web page. Australia NowA Statistical Profile.

Loretta Baldassar and David S. Trigger

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Sigmund Freud wrote his short paper "On Psychoanalysis" in response to an invitation from Andrew Davidson, the Secretary of the Section of Psychological Medicine and Neurology for the Australasian Medical Congress in Sydney in September 1911. Papers by Carl Jung and Havelock Ellis were also presented. Ernest Jones was another distinguished early contributor, for he personally read a paper at the Australasian Medical Congress in 1914 entitled "Some Practical Aspects of Psychoanalytic Treatment."

Two notable Australian figures who accepted Freud's challenge to develop the study of psychoanalysis were Paul Greig Dane and Roy Coupland Winn, who practiced between the two world wars. Before the World War I (1914-1918) a Presbyterian clergyman, Donald Fraser, had lectured on psychoanalysis in Sydney, but Dane appears to have been the first physician to become a wholehearted and consistent exponent of Freud's early theories in the careful use of catharsis and abreaction after the war. Paul Dane's interest in psychological methods of treatment was stimulated by the work of earlier pioneers such as John William Spring-thorpe and Clarence Godfrey. Dane was one of the first in Australia to use hypnosis and abreactive techniques. He also introduced group therapy for returned soldiers His interest stemmed from contact with Joan Riviere in England. Dane, although not an analyst himself, was the first chairman of the Melbourne Institute for Psycho-Analysis and was intimately associated with its foundation and early history. Dane died in 1950.

Siegfried Fink, an associate member of both the Swiss and the British Psycho-Analytical Societies, worked in Sydney until his death in the 1960s. Fink was thus a contemporary of both Dane and Winn. He was one of the founding councilors of the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis.

Roy Coupland Winn, after serving with great distinction in World War I, returned to the medical staff of Sydney Hospital and after several years went to London to continue medical and psychiatric training, becoming an associate member of the British PsychoAnalytical Society and later a full member. Back in Sydney, for several years he was Honorary Physician at Sydney Hospital but in 1931 he resigned and went into full-time psychoanalytic practice.

Winn was thus the first full-time analyst in Australia. Later, when Clara Lazar-Geroe came to Australia from Hungary and began to train analysts at the Melbourne Institute, Winn was very supportive. He joined the Board of Directors of the institute, a position that he held until his death in 1961. In 1951 he had made a generous endowment in founding the second training institute in this country, the Sydney Institute of Psychoanalysis, with Andrew Peto, also from Hungary, as training analyst (Graham, 1965).

Clara Lazar Geroe, the first Australian training analyst, arrived in Melbourne on March 14, 1940. She received her training in medicine in Prague. Her psychoanalytic training in Budapest naturally was in the school of Sandor Ferenczi, her training analyst being Michael Balint.

At the International Psychoanalytical Congress in Paris in 1938, Ernest Jones suggested that Hungarian analysts seeking emigration might consider New Zealand and Australia. Negotiations regarding New Zealand failed. "However, in Melbourne and Sydney some influential people, among them Bishop Burgman, Paul Dane, M. D. Silberberg, Reginald S. Ellery, and Roy Coupland Winn, reacted positively to the idea of an analyst coming to Australia. Their enthusiasm, and the enterprise of Paul Dane particularly, carried the day. After much negotiation, Geroe, with her family, settled in Melbourne to become Australia's first training analyst working at the newly formed Melbourne Institute for Psychoanalysis. She had been appointed as a training analyst by the British Psycho-Analytical Society of which she was a member" (Graham, 1980).

The founding of the first institute was made possible by a generous gift from Lorna Traill. The first meeting was held in the home of Hal Maudsley, a central figure in the history of psychiatry in Australia. The institute was opened at 111 Collins Street, Melbourne, by Judge Foster on the birthday of its benefactor, Lorna Traill, on October 10, 1940. The first Board of Directors included Paul Dane, Norman Albiston, Reginald S. Ellery, P.Guy Reynolds, and A.R. Phillips. There were two psychoanalysts on the Board, Ernest Jones of London and Roy Coupland Winn from Sydney. Geroe started her work with the institute and in private practice early in 1941. She conducted a large seminar for twenty to twenty-five doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, educationists, probation officers, and others.

The traditional small seminar method was followed for candidates in training, both medical and non-medical. Geroe also organized many other seminars for groups of teachers, kindergartens, and parents for discussion of their special problems with infants and children. The Institute Clinic catered to patients who could not afford private analytical fees; Geroe's Child Guidance Clinic developed a close liaison with the Children's Court clinic. Geroe lectured for many years in the Psychology Department of the University of Melbourne and to students taking the Diploma of Psychological Medicine. She was appointed Honorary Psychoanalyst at Royal Melbourne Hospitalcertainly the first appointment of this type in Australia.

The first medical student to go into training in Australia was Frank Graham, who started with Winn in 1939, then began training with Geroe in 1941. The first psychiatrist or medico to train was A.R. Phillips and the first lay analyst Janet Nield.

Early on, psychoanalysts qualified or in practice in Australia were all members or associate members of the British Psychoanalytical Society. They formed "The Australian Society of Psychoanalysts," a sort of unofficial branch of the British Society but having no independent status. Harry Southwood and Frank Graham were the first to graduate in Australia in this way as associate members of the British Psycho-Analytical Society.

In 1966 the British Society suggested that this interim arrangement should be formalized by an Australian application to the International Psychoanalytical Association for Study Group status. At the IPA Congress at Copenhagen in 1967, with the support of the British Society, the Australian Study Group was established under the direction of an international Sponsoring Committee. At this stage, there were twelve Australian psychoanalysts, members of the Study Group, who were appointed direct members of the IPA. They were: O.H.D. Blomfield, R.A. Brookes, Clara Lazar Geroe, Frank W. Graham, I.H. Martin, R. Martin, J. Nield, D. O'Brien, V. Roboz, Rose Rothfield, H.M. Southwood, and I. Waterhouse.

Of the seven members of the IPA Sponsoring Committee, Fanny Wride (chair), Adam Limentani, Ilse Hellman, Lois Munro, and Leo Rangell all visited Australia at various times and helped with clinical and structural development. The other members of the Sponsoring Committee were Maria Montessori and M. Mitscherlich-Nielson.

In Vienna, in July 1971, the IPA at its business meeting accepted the recommendation of the Sponsoring Committee and raised the status of the Study Group to that of Provisional Society. After the requisite two years as a Provisional Society, the Australian Psycho-analytical Society was admitted as a Component Society of the International Psychoanalytical Association at the IPA Congress in Paris in 1973. The constitution of the third Institute in Adelaide in 1979 represented the fruition of many years of dedicated and determined work by Harry Southwood. Assistance by the IPA was required in relation to the coordination of training in the three centers. The IPA appointed two Site Visiting Committees. The first in 1980 (Drs. Joseph, McLaughlin, Moses) and the second in 1987 (Dr. Cooper, Prof. Sandler.)

Over the years, Australian analysts have been encouraged and stimulated by working visits by distinguished colleaguesthe outstanding ones in the sixties being Michael Balint and Enid Balint. Other influential invited visitors included Betty Joseph, Edna O'Shaughnessy, Sydney Klein, and Anne-Marie Sandler.

Apart from these visits, the isolation of the Australian Society has been mitigated by the fact that many members completed their initial training with the British Society or have spent long periods in London for further analysis, supervision, or seminar work. Non-medical analysts have played an important part in the growth and development of psychoanalysis. From the beginning psychoanalysis has been viewed as a separate discipline in its own right.

Psychoanalysis has had a marked influence in many areas, most particularly in child psychiatry and social work. Following the lead of Paul Dane in the treatment of ex-servicemen in the Commonwealth Repatriation Department, Frank Graham introduced psychoanalytically oriented group therapy at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1950 and later inspired the formation of the Australian Association of Group Psychotherapists.

In the academic world, some departments of psychology have psychoanalysts on the staff or maintain a working contact with psychoanalysts, as do several departments of philosophy, sociology, and politics; the law has been less influenced. The first publicly advertised senior position on the medical staff of a major teaching hospital for a psychoanalyst was established largely through the efforts of William Orchard at Prince Henry's Hospital Melbourne, in about 1970. Frank Graham was the first appointee. Another appointment of this kind was Janet Nield as Honorary Psychotherapist (1953-71) at The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney.

In the 1990s, a widening of the field of activity of the Australian Psychoanalytical Society has involved contributions by the society or its members to university teaching (at MA and PhD levels) and open seminars. There is a growing list of publications and public lectures by members. The Freudian School of Melbourne and The Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis in the Freudian Field are devoted to the Lacanian approach in Melbourne. There is an active school of Self-Psychology (Heinz Kohut) based in Sydney. Graduates of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis (Karen Horney) have played an active role in developing psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the Psychotherapy Association of Australia.

O. H. D. Blomfeld


Blomfield, O.H.D. (1986). Psychoanalysis in Australia. Journal of the International Association for the History of Psychoanalysis., 2, 9-11.

Brett, Judith. (1998). Clara Lazar Geroe. In Australian dictionary of biography. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Brett, Judith, Gold, Stanley, and Geroe Clara. (1982, September). Psychoanalysis in Australia. MEANJIN, 41 (3), 339-357.

Graham, Frank W. (1965). Obituary: Dr. Roy Coupland Winn. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, p. 616.

. (1980). Clara Lazar-Geroe. An Obituary. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, p. 603.

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Australia Australia Day a national public holiday in Australia, commemorating the founding on 26 January 1788 of the colony of New South Wales.

See also Advance Australia.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Australia
Region: Oceania
Population: 19,169,083
Language(s): English, native languages
Literacy Rate: 100%
Academic Year: January-December
Number of Primary Schools: 8,123
Compulsory Schooling: 10 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.4%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 102,284
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 1,855,789
  Secondary: 2,367,692
  Higher: 1,041,648
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 101%
  Secondary: 148%
  Higher: 80%
Teachers: Primary: 103,774
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 17:1
  Secondary: 12:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 101%
  Secondary: 148%
  Higher: 83%

History & Background

Australia became a country in 1901 as a federation of former British colonies inhabiting the continent of Australia. At Federation, six states emerged out of the six colonies, and they retained the establishment of policy and funding for education. Progressively, the states voluntarily surrendered some of their powers so that by the end of the twentieth century, the federal government played a major role in the educational system. Each state has carried on separate educational policy development, teacher training, and registration procedures.

The Australian population was 19,222,000 in 1999, spread across 7,713,364 square kilometers of land. Australia is closely knit into the world economy and is an active middle power in world politics. Its social policies are driven by an aging population and declining birth rate. Australia is trying to sustain national population growth through migration, which has meant a more diverse population towards which education has to be directed from a tax and income base that is undergoing radical changes in the face of globalization.

The first period of Australian education was dominated by the social and moral needs of a convict society which, from 1810, began to develop a free minority. As an exiled society of adults, the problems were conversion and moral restraint. Consequently, the Anglican church provided the first schoolmaster in the colonial chaplain, Reverend Richard Johnson. His educational efforts came in the form of sermons and bible readings, the literature that came with the first fleet, and a variety of moral and biblical tracts. He also oversaw the first hut schools, one in Sydney in 1789 and another in Parramatta two years later. There was no real model for financing or organizing religion outside of the United Kingdom. Therefore, glebes were established (400 acres for support of a minister and 200 for a schoolmaster) in each developing center. Later, this arrangement was formalized in the Church and School Corporation established under Thomas Hobbes Scott in 1825, as part of an attempt to extend to Australia the Anglican monopoly in England by deeding it one-tenth of all surveyed land. The problem with the model was that most land was still unsettled or, if settled, unsurveyed, leaving available finances well behind the expansion of population and demand for education.

The arrival of the Second Fleet increased the number of women in the colony, leading to an ever-expanding number of children to be raised. Female convicts, for whom there was less call for as manual laborers, also tended to be the first teachers in local schools. It was not a promising beginning for education. Scarcity of labor drove up wages and land was easily obtainable, often by grant. A masculine society had good economic and cultural reasons for despising learning, an attitude that remained common enough in the anti-intellectualism of the culture into the post-World War II period.

In 1792, the funding and fortunes of education varied with government patronage. The advent of a number of missionaries fleeing Tahiti in 1798 further strengthened educational endeavors in the colony. They also reinforced the assumption that religion was education. This attitude remained the case for much of the nineteenth century, particularly on the edges of settlement. The clergyman was often the most educated person in the locality. Wherever churches went, schools followed. Local groups out of the growing centers turned to the voluntary society as a model.

By 1814, the state was wholly or partially funding 13 elementary schools in the vast arc from Moreton Bay in the north to Hobart in the south. The spreading edge of settlement (and the dangers of a masculine, frontier society) soon created boarding and girls schools. While student numbers were small, individual instruction and private study was the preferred method. The increase in the number of children (by 1810, there were more than 3000 children, 26 percent of the population, in the colony) meant the adoption of different methods. Crook's Academy, for instance, adopted British charity school methods such as the Lancastrian monitorial system. Larger numbers of students also meant more variety and pressure to provide non-denominational forms of religious instruction. As the formal structures of denominations became more firmly established, however, there was contention over the shape of education, particularly education paid for by public funds. Free settlers who were nonconformist and democratic by spirit came into conflict with the assumptions of the imperial state, wealthy colonialists, and merchants.

The state's aim for education was to inculcate obedience to Christian church principles. For the churches, the definition of Christian implied was questionable, and the order of priority was to be reversed. For the state, religion was an instrument for social and moral order; for the churches, religion was a prime objective from which social and moral order were desirable, but not essential side-effects. The Church Acts of 1836 made Anglicanism, Catholicism, Methodism, and Presbyterianism the main forms of Christian worship.

With the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813, and the extension of settlement north to Moreton Bay (later Brisbane) and south to Hobart, the far-flung edges of pastoral empires and the accumulation of wealth also raised the need for residential grammar schools to which children could be sent away from their isolated station. These first began as private schools in the classics, largely run by clergymen for additional income, preparing genteel ladies and men who would be capable either of running the family business or returning to Britain to take a profession. The Australian College was founded in 1831, and King's School was founded in 1832. The former folded, but King's lasted, and the Scots school was founded in 1838, beginning a long-running tradition of Presbyterian grammar schools perhaps best typified by Scotch College. St Mary's Seminary, a mixed Catholic seminary and secondary school, was founded by Bishop Polding in 1837. In Tasmania, Queen's School (Anglican, 1842), Launceston CGS (Anglican, 1846), and the Hutchins School (Anglican, 1846) led the way in a system which, under the energetic Bishop Francis Nixon and by the direct intervention of W. E. Gladstone, came to be dominated by Anglican schooling. In Queensland, grammar schools were publicly supported under the Grammar School Act of 1860 in order to fill the rural educational vacuum.

In the 1830s, the central administration was just beginning to struggle with these issues. Its first step sought to break the stranglehold the Churches had on education. As the price of government support for the largely stretched denominational schools each committed to a British geographical parish model, the government proposed the funding of a parallel public system modeled on the Irish National system. Delayed by fierce church-based opposition in the 1830s, and the deep colonial depression of the 1840s, a Board of National Education was set up in 1848 to parallel the Denominational Schools' Board, which administered state aid to the big four denominations. In Tasmania, under Eardley-Wilmot and then William Denison, the dominance of Anglicans in a more homogenous population matched with government cost-cutting meant that denominational schools continued to overshadow the public schools. By 1849, there were only 10 public schools (compared to 25 in New South Wales), but 72 Anglican schools and 4 Catholic day schools.

The growth of population in areas too distant to be governed effectively from Sydney introduced even more variety. The 1820s saw Tasmania separate, and the 1830s saw new colonies in Western Australia and South Australia and the urban centers of future Victoria and Queensland founded. These colonies moved more quickly to urban development and equalitarian values in comparison to New South Wales. The cessation of convict transportation to mainland Australia in 1842, while leaving a generational backlog of continuing and former prisoners in the population, firmly declared the colonies for free development.

Some colonies, such as South Australia, never relied on income from convict transportation. Later, the shift to land sales rather than grants also provided colonial governments with the money to expand public infrastructure. In Western Australia, lack of an immediate revenue stream, and a stagnant population, hobbled the development of a public system for more than a decade. The colonial depression further flattened growth through the 1840s, leaving educational initiative in the hands of resurgent, missionary Irish Catholic religious orders.

By 1846, almost all the schools in Perth were Catholic. This led to vigorous educational rivalry by the new government of Andrew Clarke, the foundation of colonial schools in four centers of the huge, underpopulated territory, and a free grammar school in Perth. A similar reaction to Catholic success in Adelaide was, in the 1870s, to produce a centralized State Council of Education, and then a Department of Education along the lines of the one already established in Victoria. These were extended over time and brought under the direction of a General Board of Education, causing the virtual disappearance of smaller private schools. In 1849, both systems received government funding on a population, producing a binary system of education unique in the continent.

By contrast, South Australia was considered to be a "paradise of dissent," reflecting a lower proportion of either Anglicans or Catholics. Its uniqueness lay in the fact that it had a voluntarily-supported school system planned through the South Australian School Society before it was founded. Unfortunately, membership levies did not go through as expected and, without government support, the school was privatized, leaving private schools as the only alternatives in the colony for some years.

The failure of South Australia to produce a stream of philanthropy disappointed the dissenting bourgeois, and government funding, controlled by the Anglicans, was only available on a denominational basis. The public dispute over government funding was so bitter in this colony that the Governor resigned amidst the public turmoil, and "state aid to religion and education remained the single biggest political issue in the colony until its discontinuation in 1851" (Barcan 1980).

German migration saw the opening of a seminary and school in Lobenthal in 1845, and St. Peter's CECS (Anglican) in 1849. By 1850, elementary education and various forms of state aid were functioning successfully in most colonies. High schools or their equivalent were less evident, and advanced education of this type was in private hands in the form of academies or grammar/collegiate schools. Most education suffered from lack of funds and population, competition between church systems in a small market, economic cycles, and popular neglect of educational priorities.

The review of education by Childers in 1851, for instance, found that Victorian schools were not reaching up to a third of children in towns and did not reach up to half of children in suburbs (Barcan 1980). On top of this, Australia was at the other end of the earth from institutions from which either a flow of talented teachers or quality teaching supplies relevant to colonial conditions could come. Private education or sending children back home was an option, but only if one had the money; quality education was a right only for the wealthy.

Two of these problems were solved by the discovery of gold in Victoria and New South Wales in the early 1850s. The population of both colonies virtually tripled, creating movable towns of gold seekers, new domestic demand for foodstuffs and building materials, and new infrastructure, including schools and Mechanics Institutes. The problem was that many professionals, including teachers, abandoned their posts for the goldfields, and rising costs made living difficult for those, mainly women, who stayed. In Tasmania, which had no rush, many towns were decimated, and the dominant Anglican schools struggled to keep their doors open as people left for Victoria.

Funding via denominational boards favored the majority Anglican population, and so re-enforced the status quo. South Australia was the first to discontinue funding in 1851, followed by Tasmania and Western Australia, then Queensland, Victoria, and finally in 1872, New South Wales. With the support of non-conformist Christians, especially Congregationalists and Baptists, State educational policy shifted into the hands of liberal idealists, precisely the sort of ideals that were anathema to the Catholic Church in the wake of Vatican I and the Syllabus of Errors. Reports attacking the quality of denominational education by the Anglican Rusden, and liberal William Wilkins, seemed to support their fears.

Universities did not overcome their distance from the schooling system until the rise of public examinations made their services central to public life. The Oxford and Cambridge examinations were used by many schools, and continued to be used in the Theological colleges, as a way of determining entry and matriculation standards. Without a local demand for a large number of public servants, the British universities continued to have the advantage. The University of Melbourne followed the University of London's model, establishing a Matriculation Examination as early as 1855. Sydney established the Junior and Senior Public Examinations in 1867, opening examination centers around the state in succeeding years. The opening of these examinations to women in 1871 acted as a spur to educational provision for women, and girls grammar schools thus spread across the countryside as a precursor to the opening of university courses to women from 1879. Such schools were part of the great surge in institution building that swept across eastern Australia in the long economic boom between 1865 and 1890. Even the universities, though planted in the 1850s, did not begin to grow significantly until this period: their move into examinations thus made them de facto Boards of Examiners for much of the secondary sector from this time on, cementing a critical place in the development of Australian education. The role of public examinations, and the lack of a Catholic tertiary alternative, was a major element in uniting the various systems of education as they developed separate lives from 1880.

The period of 1880-1900 was the period of implementation for these strategies of free, secular, and compulsory education. Making education compulsory did not necessarily mean that students would attend, but the legislative strengthening of education departments in pursuit of the goal of universal literacy was the result. With the extension and bureaucratization of government services generally in Australia, came the irony of democracy producing a stronger and stronger center. In time, education and health would be swept up into an effective welfare system.

The economic boom of the period had several effects. It gave money to the universities with additional resources (often in the form of religiously based colleges) flowing from the great pastoral fortunes made in the period. The same fortunes also endowed the great private grammar schools, even while the small private academies were eliminated through advancing government regulation and service. The systematic expansion of Presbyterian and Methodist Ladies Colleges was a major contributor to the expansion of the grammar school form. They were a concern of the State because they contributed to the provision of advanced education in rural areas. These, together with state agricultural high schools, some of which were residential, began to push the regional country private academies out of existence, though they could never replace correspondence education for the more remote areas. Australian primary and secondary education thus took on a threefold form: Catholic, low-feepaying, private; Catholic and Protestant grammar schools (such as Trinity and St. Ignatius in Sydney or in Brisbane); and an expanding state system that was finally able to reach out to the distant rural towns. The boom also allowed the rise of a wealthy urban professional class, feeding more pragmatic university courses such as economics, law, and medicine for which schools were founded in all the major universities.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The provisions of relevant Commonwealth and State or Territory Anti-Discrimination and Affirmative Action legislation are set out in the Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986, The Disability Discrimination Act 1992, The Racial Discrimination Act 1975, and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Following the path of teacher education, the process by which other sub-professions (such as nursing) reached the status of professions (through the status of university entrance), was accelerated by the 1990s. This process has further strengthened the links between vocational and professional education and makes the offerings of universities, in many ways, connected with the technical system.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) authorities by the end of the 1980s sought a new formula in Competency Based Training, which effectively stripped teaching of its content-orientation. It reoriented vocational and technical education away from disciplines and towards the needs of particular employers. The focus was outward, on standards rather than content, and on the transformation of knowledge into a commodity in order to sell it into a market. The construction of an Australian Qualifications Framework may be seen as the logical outcome of these trends, whereby the formation of a single great federal system (called, under the Dawkins' scheme, the Unified National System) embracing technical, vocational, and university education, assumed the continuity of all forms of learning in fitting national industry-specific standards. For such discipline- or community-specific areas as clergy training or the human relationship end of medical practice, it has generally been acknowledged that the imposition of such external standards was not always successful and led to considerable heat and public discussion in Australia through the 1990s.

Though Australia has not used monetarist policies to the extent that trademarked the Thatcher government in Britain, there is a simmering discontent over the so called "economic rationalism" evident in handling national and intellectual assets on both sides of politics, the Liberal-National Party Coalition, and Australian Labor Party. The rise of non-establishment parties, such as the Greens, Democrats, and even the One Nation Party is further evidence of the fragmentation of Australian opinion over issues such as education. The one common denominator is the opinion that education is important. In 1999, about 88 percent of respondents to a Commonwealth Bank survey put "ensuring everyone has access to good education" at the top of all issues surveyed (Australian 19 June 2000). Meanwhile, the debate over how to rebuild the social status and effectiveness of teachers within the education system continues, in seeming ignorance of the fact that it is the progressive rationalization of education into an objectified system that assists in the destruction of such social status and effectiveness.

Educational SystemOverview

Education is compulsory in all states of Australia from K-10 (between the ages 5 to 15). Effectively, almost all Australian citizens have access to elementary and junior educational provision, under state legislation in the six states (New South, Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania) and in the Australian Capital Territory, while citizens in the Northern Territory obtain education under Federal funding provisions channeled through the Northern Territory administration.

Education is in English, though most primary schools now have access to community language programs. Italian, Japanese, and Spanish are among the most common in state schools, French and German in several of the international language schools in the capital cities, and indigenous languages in Aboriginal schools, particularly in Western Australia, northern Queensland, and the Northern Territory.

Most states, along the lines of a resurgent return to basic policies operate basic skills tests in elementary schools (called primary or public schools in most states). In New South Wales, basic skills tests are run for year 3 and year 5 students. Access to state selective schools is possible in some states through special examination, and there are regular examinations for entry on scholarship to the larger private schools. Internal assessment governs progress through years 7 through 9, and in year 10, there is the equivalent of New South Wale's school certificate offered in most states as a entry point into technical education, apprenticeships, and other vocational training alternatives. Year 12 ends with a higher leaving certificate examinationin New South Wales called the Higher School Certificate, in Victoria the VCE, and in Queensland the Core Skills Test.

The Academic Year runs from the end of January (mid-summer in Australia) across 4 terms, ending towards the middle or latter end of December, allowing for a 5 to 6 week holiday in what are the hot months in most Australian states. Curriculum in most states is set by the State departments of Education, against which (through the system of public examinations at the end of year 10 and year 12) inspectors also assess registration requirements in privately run schools.

The shaping influences on Australian education have been distance and time. Distance, because it was distance that has dictated the economics and socio-cultural development of the country. Time, as both the newness of the country and the time to travel for ideas, has been critical in the formation of education policy and thought. Distance and time, significantly, are also the key axes underlying the processes of globalization which are driving educational agendas in Australia.

In the first instance, distance from the expanding centers of world civilizations meant that, until 1788, Aboriginal peoples in Australia could follow traditional mechanisms of customary education unhindered for thousands of years. Aboriginal learning patterns tend to be directed towards community survival, de-emphasizing the individual in favor of customary law, through knowledge of the intricate Aboriginal social system, and ensuring the passing on of communal history and culture in an often difficult natural environment. Their culture emphasized group work, daily vocational skills, and in-depth knowledge of the natural environment. From white settlement in 1788, these values brought Aboriginal children into a direct conflict with individualistic-, time-, and achievement-oriented white education systems.

Despite missionary practice that emphasized bible translation and grammar/vocabulary construction, which has since become a major source for the revival of Aboriginal languages and cultures, and high level recommendations towards bilingual education in the early 1960s, English remained the primary language of instruction for Aboriginal students until 1973. Effectively, this was part of a program of assimilation that was extended by the Australian government to all minority groups in Australia until the promulgation of official multiculturalism in November 1972. The extension of linguistic revivals, teaching in the primary language of students, support for the training of Aboriginal people as teachers, and national organization of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has greatly assisted in shifting education away from the sort of identity stripping, residential institutions that were the norm for Aboriginal education from the foundation of the Native Institution under Lachlan Macquarie in 1815. A scholar noted:

the Native Institution was expected to de-Aboriginalise its pupils on a permanent basis. In this it failed, and that was how it was judged. Some colonists realized that Aborigines returned to their own people because there was no place for them in a society which regarded them, educated or not, as the lowest in the scale of humanity, but most colonists were convinced that the Aborigines themselves were inherently unable to profit from education. (Fletcher 1989)

With debate over "the stolen generations" and reconciliation dominating the minds of Australians at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is important to note the processes by which Australian education became a major tool for social engineering up until the 1970s, and then how it entered into a crisis period of self-redefinition until the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Primary education in South Australia extends from pre-year 1 to year 7, while the southeastern states (New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania), run from pre-year 1 to year 6. Secondary education in all states runs to year 12, with differing mechanisms for matriculation to university. Different examinations are used in Victoria and New South Wales. The development of national standards is increasingly putting pressure on these regional variations and increasing cooperation between states at all levels.

In August 1998, there were 9,587 schools enrolling 3,198,655 (61 percent K-6) students, 6,998 (73 percent) of which were government schools. In the face of a slight decline in the number of government schools (1995-1998), the non-government sector continues to grow rapidly (1 to 3 percent per triennium), particularly in the low-fee paying Christian school sector, as much as 8 percent per year (Long 1996). These trends reflect the general drift in Australian society towards private delivery and downsizing; a retreat by sub-cultures from the public sphere in the face of growing social diversity. The impact of parental fears about social trends such as violence, drugs in schools, and retention of traditional values, can be seen by the fact that such schools are strongest in years 8-10, but follow patterns of retention in government schools in K-6. The nearly 100,000 indigenous students enrolled in K-12 are, due to issues of isolation and the inability to mobilize private funding, much more reliant on government funded schools.

Most private school growth for K-12 has occurred in rapid growth, lower-to-middle-class outer suburban areas of Australia's major cities. Their ability to draw on constituency support in addition to government per capita funding of student institutions has meant that nongovernment schools have better staff-student ratios than government schools, particularly in the wealthier Anglican schools sector. Building growth has not increased at the same rate as population growth, leaving many low-fee paying private schools to struggle with accommodation issues.

Clear distinctions continue between the greater public schools, which are mostly church-based but are in fact private corporations, Catholic systemic schools, low-fee paying Christian schools, and local government schools.

With the improvement of the economy after the economic recession in the late 1980s, retention rates years in grades 10-12 have dropped, from 77 percent to 71 percent (65 percent government and 84 percent nongovernment). This trend reinforced the lack of a universal tertiary college culture in Australia (ABS, Education and Training 1999).

Higher Education was attempted a number of times through the early history of the various colonies. The Australian College in New South Wales, for instance, was meant to combine K-12 activities with the seeds of future clergy training for the Presbyterian Church. All such institutions failed, however, until the foundation of the University of Sydney in 1852on deliberately non-sectarian lines. The University of Melbourne followed in 1853, Tasmania (in Hobart) in 1893, Adelaide (established by Act of Parliament in 1874), and Queensland in 1909 (Barcan 1980).

Enrollment figures tended to follow population growth and decline and the policy function of the universities in their home colonies/states. Prior to World War II, universities in Australia tended to be for the children of the professional classes. This status changed radically after World War II with the need to retrain hundreds of thousands of Australian soldiers for civilian life. Postwar migration added additional pressure, leading to an efflorescence of new institutions (Monash, Macquarie, La Trobe, Murdoch, and Flinders), mostly in the suburbs.

By the 1970s, universities had become a major tool for the Australian government that was attempting to redirect national effort away from commodities production and trading towards value added industries and (from the 1980s) the information industries revolutionizing large parts of Asia. Encouraging Australian students into those institutions was a more difficult task, given the lack of a generalized learning culture and the lack of obvious career paths for many of the courses offered.

By March 1998, there were 671,853 students in higher education courses in Australia (about 3.7 percent of the population), of which 72,183 (or 10.0 percent of the total) were classed as overseas students (up from 21,000 in 1989, 5 percent of the total). Some 359,225 of these students were aged 16 to 24, representing 14 percent of the population group. The vast number of the new growth among these students went into business, economics, computer sciences, media, and health. There was a relative decline in numbers going into straight humanities and education subjects. The growth in both the business disciplines and in the proportion of non-resident students, as well as the consolidation of higher education institutions through the 1980s, marked the shift of education from its position as a core community service to a position as a growing export industry that was competing in the global market.

Since 1995, all registered Australian tertiary institutions have been required to tailor their curricula according to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), a normative system dictating standard outcomes rather than content. The AQF replaced the Register of Australian Tertiary Education (operative since 1990). This has meant that the vocational education and training (VET) system (offering diplomas from Certificate 1 to Advanced Diploma) articulates from upper school education and to the university system, which offer knowledge based baccalaureate and higher degrees, but overlap with VET in offering diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in a unified system. It is possible to transfer credit and recognition of prior learning throughout the tertiary system.

The integration of previously separate spheres of education within relatively new and artificial standards-based structures raises two major challenges to education: "The first of these is 'What counts as worthwhile learning?' The second question is 'What may be accepted to confirm that such learning has occurred?' Both of these questions, and the issues they raise . . . must reignite a serious consideration by teacher education faculties of what actually constitutes knowledge." (Taylor and Clemans 2000)

Through the 1980s, most states introduced legislation restricting use of the terms like university or degree to those recognized by the state and falling within the AQF. With state universities, this has not been an issue, since those institutions are largely self-accrediting. Considerable tension developed over the recognition of private providers under the various state Acts. There is not an education equivalent to an Australian university criteria because there is so much variation in quality and approach between institutions. A provider does not have substantial credit if endorsed in one state and refused standing in another because of Acts that vary. Considerable work has gone into smoothing out irregularities in the system, and making the AQF genuinely national in scope. Other quality controls are imposed through the Commonwealth's Trade Practices Act 1974. State/Territory fair trading legislation helps protect the quality of higher education.

Preprimary & Primary Education

In most states and territories, except Queensland and Western Australia, there is one year of part-time preschool education followed by one year of full-time preprimary education. In Queensland, one year of part-time preschool is available. In Western Australia, one year of part-time preprimary education is accessible. As preprimary education is not compulsory in Australia, the teaching of preprimary teachers is not as regulated as the preparation of primary and postprimary teachers, though universities such as Curtin University and Macquarie University have flourishing early childhood teacher preparation schemes.

Primary education is largely the responsibility of the states: State governments are responsible for around 88 percent of the funding for government schools. They are also the major employer of primary principals. Federal funding tends to come back to state primary schools through general allocations such as the States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Act 1996; and Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Act 1989, and through the funding of particular programs (such as support for literacy and numeracy programs, book purchases, foreign language, special needs, among others).

Federal government expenditure exceeding $16 billion was spent on school-based education (1997-2000). From 1997, under a conservative government, any school recognized by a state education department (public or private) could access government funding from 12 categories of eligibility.

Shifts in funding are affected both for primary and secondary by government policy targets, and the Government School Recurrent Costs (AGSRC) and Building Price (BP) indices. An example of the former is the arrangement whereby the Australian government channels funds provided by the Italian government (through the organization Co.As.It) for the teaching of Italian (Australia's largest non-English language group) in Australian schools.

The progressive movement of federal agencies into primary education is marked by the fact that Commonwealth funding (worth $2.1 billion in 2000) is increasing at a faster rate than state funding. This remains a sensitive issue, however, as the constitution delineates states rights over these areas. The Federal government has proclaimed its interest to emerge out of:

pursuing the Government's broad national, social and economic agenda and in improving the well-being of all Australians, promoting national consistency in the provision of schooling across Australia, the reporting of nationally comparable data on student achievement and other outcomes of school education, and improved accountability by education providers for schooling outcomes to parents and the wider Australian community. (DETYA 2000c)

The priorities driven through these funding and standards mechanisms are numerous and include the following: improve the literacy and numeracy skills of all young Australians in order to articulate into higher levels of education and serve the labor market; increase focus on vocational education and training in the senior secondary curriculum; enhance teacher and principal development and professionalism to meet the ever increasing demands of educational, social, economic and technological change; support educationally disadvantaged students; improve educational outcomes of schooling for Indigenous students; support the right of parents to choose the educational environment which best suits the needs of their child, whether the school is public or private; use new technologies and scientific principles; increase focus on civics and citizenship education; teach designated priority languages other than English; and aware students of and economically cooperate with the Asia-Pacific region, through the encouragement of Asian studies and languages. Despite priority 10, Asian languages have developed comparatively slowly, with Indonesian, Japanese (the largest at the HSC level), and Chinese among the favorites.

Secondary Education

Secondary Education is provided by a mix of private and public educational institutions, relationships between which have reflected larger class and social tensions in the country. As government budgets shrink relatively, competition for federal and state funding has intensified, leading to some remarkable public outbursts. The NSW Labor government, for example, has recently supported teacher trade union calls for a review of Commonwealth spending on private schools, shifting blame for its own allocations on the basis that Commonwealth priorities have provided for a 12 percent real increase in funding to private schools and no real increase to public schools. The case of private schooling has not been helped by bitter public debates over, for instance, the teaching of creationism in some Christian schools, and several celebrated student abuse cases in a number of large and prestigious private colleges. In the larger framework, these debates should probably be seen within the context of "new knowledge" professionals attempting to push the boundaries of secularization in an age when governments are more committed to retaining diversity across the educational system and support from subcultures within the multicultural mix of Australian society.

Increasing public provision in the context of an aging population is a large budget proposition in an age of decreasing budgets. In an attempt to quell the issues of class in the debate, on May 11, 1999, Dr. David Kemp (Commonwealth Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs), issued Choice and Equity: Funding Arrangements for Non-Government Schools 2001-2004, which abolished the Education Resources Index (ERI) and replaced it with a measure of socioeconomic status (SES) of school communities. The means-testing of aid, however, has not stopped the criticism, since the real issue is the shrinking hold public education has on the Australian imagination and the budgetary policies, which reflect a shift in attitude to education as a relative rather than an absolute good.

In 2000, some 81,000 students enrolled for the School Certificate (year 10 matriculation) in NSW, around a core of subjects relating to mathematics, English, and science. The next most common subjects were personal development/health, commerce, computing, geography studies, technics I, history, and visual arts. The movement towards the integration of VET subjects in secondary education is evident, even to the extent that students may opt for courses taught in technical and further education colleges rather than on the campuses of high schools. This process is even more advanced in Victoria. By contrast, there were some 66,000 students who sat for the Higher School certificate in NSW in 1999, of which 52 percent (slightly above population average) were female, and most of whom sat for the Board of Studies' developed courses rather than Board endorsed subjects. The status of public examinations for matriculation to universities, though criticized as elitist in some circles, still holds considerable attraction in the market place. Some 77 percent of students received a university admissions score, indicating an offer of a place in a higher education institution attached to the Universities Admissions Centre (NSW Board of Studies 1999).

Higher Education

Postsecondary education in Australia is divided by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training, and Youth Affairs (DETYA) into nine categories, three of which are public (University, TAFE/Technical College, and Skillshare or other government training) and the remaining six of which are private (business college or adult/community education center; industry skills center; professional/industry association; equipment/product manufacturer or supplier; other private training organization; and other organization or institution) (DETYA 2000a). Of the nearly 900,000 enrollments in the award sector (1997) private providers represent about 11 percent of postsecondary award enrollments. Non-award enrollments were also offered. The niche role of private providers is demonstrated by the much larger percentage of private over public enrollments involved in part-time and external study (45 percent versus 32 percent in 1997), and in programs not leading to an award.

Most universities (following the models of the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne) are state-owned, statutory bodies established under their own acts of state parliament. The Australian National University is unique, being constituted by an Act of federal parliament in 1946 as Australia's only research university. Its position in the Australian Capital Territory drove it to seek a larger student base, and through amalgamations successively with Canberra University College and the Institute of The Arts, it has since 1960 been offering undergraduate education and since 1992 broadened to include creative arts.

The rash of new universities peaked in the late 1960s, and few new institutions were created until the 1990s. The pressure of new settlement areas has been the major reason for new institutions since thenthe University of Western Sydney, for instance, which combined a number of pre-existing colleges (including the venerable Hawkesbury Agricultural College) under one masthead in 1990. The latest university in this category is the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), formed from a private university formed in the 1980s, made a university College in 1994, and was claimed a university by the Labor Party government in Queensland in 1998. It finds itself at the heart of the major growth corridor of the Sunshine Coast, Australia's fastest growing region.

USC also represents the growth of higher education with an increasing number of private tertiary institutions. Few of these (Avondale College, Seventh Day Adventist; Australian Catholic University, Catholic; and Notre Dame University, Catholic being among the exceptions) obtain government funding. The most highly profiled of these (in media terms) was Bond University, begun by a corporate entrepreneur (Alan Bond) before facing financial stringencies and restructuring in the late 1980s. It has since gone on to considerable achievements, particularly in business, economics, and law. Growth is restrained largely by the absence of large pockets of private wealth in Australia, and the size of the population. The position of these institutions as private providers included within the government funding model was a major factor suggesting devolvement of government funding on a voucher basis that could be used at the registered institution of the student's choice. If this were to happen, the private sector would receive considerable impetus, and the small start-up agencies (for instance, those hoping to building on the base provided by the large number of theological colleges and Christian schools in Australia) in formation would emerge as further competition for a public sector which is itself quickly moving to broaden the number of privately funded places offered.

Most Australian universities admit students competitively on the basis of secondary matriculation and demand for courses. In New South Wales, for instance, this is handled through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), which mediates student applications via an index called the Universities Admissions Index, successor to many disputed and publicly debated systems. Essentially, the UAI uses weighted HSC results to mediate between student demand and university supply. Most students are offered places in particular institutions on the basis of their UAI. Some institutions also add bonus points to applications if students live in a particular area, fulfill preenrollment interviews, or fit other desirable target criteria. ACT students obtain a score from the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies, and in most other states a Tertiary Entrance Rank is calculated on the basis of weighted matriculation examination scores. In Western Australia, the equivalent is a TER calculated by the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC). In Queensland, entry is determined by the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) on the basis of overall positions determined through moderated internal assessment and the Queensland Core Skills Test (QCS).

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

With federation in 1901, the Australian states retained the obligation to fund education. A federal framework gave reason for them to seek standardized approaches across the country. The emphasis was not on content so much as on citizenship, character, and the underpinnings of social democracy, the development of intelligence, faculty, and character. In addition, practical courses ran alongside academic ones, with students effectively streamed into technical, superior, and academic streams by the end of primary Qualifying Certificate, through to the Continuation, and other Certificates.

As the aftershocks of the disastrous 1891 depression settled down, improved economic conditions allowed expansion of the systems. Committees like the Fink Commission in Victoria (through the Education Act of 1901, and the subsequent Teacher's Act) and the NSW Royal Commission on Education (through the Free Education Act 1906), guided the reform of technical education, eliminated pupil teachers, abolished fees in state schools, promoted the building of state high schools, provided for teacher education institutions and registration, extended the compulsory base of education, and the centralization of education under permanent heads.

Though technical education would have to await full implementation until World War II, the cyclic nature of the Australian economy encouraged pragmatism, and militated against a leisured liberal arts tradition. Two major depressions, recurrent recessions, and war made Australians a practical people. The influence of Scots and English thought, influenced by German idealism, was particularly strong in this period, though as the Ascham School in Sydney, and the introduction of Rudolph Steiner and Montessori schools showed variety was a local possibility in the period from 1914.

Montessori became mainstream in New South Wales, and from there influenced Tasmania and South Australia, but made less headway in other states. The Jena school in Germany was a regular stop on Australian tours abroad for educational ideas, those that also filtered into Australia through the medium of journals, and British domination of the book trade. The Kindergarten movement, also German in origin, had been introduced to keep young children off the streets in the 1890s depression, and began to spread in Australia after the return of prosperity in 1906. By 1914, however, due to the period of reform through 1901-1914, children entering Kindergarten could look forward to a complete K-Tertiary education provision in their own country. The growth of a specifically Australian (as opposed to Anglo-Australian) form of patriotism was one outcome of this, as the Australian intelligentsia could now be embraced within Australian institutions. Despite the lack of demand for local authors and other creative talents, it was a trend that reinforced the deliberate attempts of history and social studies curricula to engender concepts of citizenship.

Though education was a state issue, the Commonwealth became more vitally involved in state provision through the two world wars. After both wars, tens of thousands of ex-servicemen had to be retrained to enter into post-war reconstruction society. This was done through Commonwealth funding of technical and university places for returned servicemen. The cohort that emerged from Australian institutions in the early 1950s was, thus, more mature, worldly-wise, and destined to lead Australian social institutions into the 1980s. The new industries encouraged by war also demanded a flow of technically-educated men (and, increasingly, teachers were among the first semi-professionals to begin moving up), the first major step in which was the take over of teacher training by the universities that defined the field of education.

Similar processes were to occur through the 1970s and 1980s with regard to nursing, and through the 1990s with regard to policing, paramedics, business, and other social service areas. Meeting the demand for teachers in a democratic country meant maintaining or elevating the drawing power of the profession, either through social status or financial reward. As society became increasingly consumer-oriented, the two types of reward began to run into one another, relativizing the pseudo-religious roots of the so-called "honourable professions." The pluralization of society, on the other hand, was marked by rising crime rates and the decline of social security in precisely those areas where the state desired cohorts of new teachers to begin work. Increasing the leaving age just meant more uninterested students in school for a longer period of time. Fewer matriculants were offering for an occupation requiring higher levels of knowledge, ever improving teaching skills, for lower relative social and economic return. The phrase "the crisis in education" shown by rising teacher resignation rates, and global transfer of teachers to other parts of the world was to remain a key element of Australian public debate through to the end of the century. Professionalization was thus driven by the destabilization of a rapidly modernized and globalized society. The University of Tasmania took over teacher education as early as 1948 for rational economic reasons and struggled to fit teaching practicums into the academic timetable.

By the late 1950s, the prospect of the baby boom doubling the population of Australia's universities in a very short period of time was beginning to worry Commonwealth and state planners. In 1949, the New South Wales University of Technology was founded at Kensington, to articulate between the burgeoning number of Technical College students and the need for increased numbers of technical professionals to oversee post-War reconstruction. Eventually, renamed the University of NSW, it grew through a pattern of regional expansion and proliferation of degrees, as well as a marketable commodity for educational exports to the expanding economies of Asia, to become one of Australia's largest universities. But this was not enough. From 1954-1957, university enrollments in Australia rose by nearly 30 percent. From 1954, under pressure from the rural vote, the University of New England gained its independence from the University of Sydney, and entered the field of distance education. None of these universities were financially stable, and greater need again was emerging with the rising numbers of students, and academic union militancy over poor wages and conditions.

The Murray Report and the demographic bulge of the period opened a golden age of state funded university expansion. New faculties were added at the newly named UNSW and the major metropolitan universities, and new Universities were founded (Monash, 1958; James Cook (University College of Townsville), 1960; Wollongong University (College), 1962; Macquarie, 1963; Newcastle University, 1965; Flinders University, 1961-1966; La Trobe University, 1964).

Dawkins unified national scheme regularized relationships between the states and the commonwealth with regard to federal leadership over national education policy, as did the "Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling in Australia" (the Hobart Declaration), which emerged out of the 1989 conference of Education Ministers. The high point of this golden age of university expansion, and of education for democracy was under the Whitlam government, 1972-1975. The Whitlam revolution retained the last remnants of 1960s optimism before the oil shocks of the early 1970s, and the recession budgets of the Fraser government began to function. E. Gough Whitlam broke more than 20 years of conservative, minimalist government style in the Liberal tradition by appealing to the white collar middle classes who had been the most enthusiastic patrons of the university and education sector. While retaining labor union support, he reconceptualized Welfare as the means by which government enriched the life of every citizen. In this sense, government was in loco parentis for the dissolving local communities on which education had been built in earlier years. "Any function or activity," declared Whitlam, "which can be hitched to the star of the Commonwealth grows in quality and affluence. Any function or activity which is financially limited to the States will grow slowly or even decline" (Whitlam, ALP Policy Speech, 1972). The major areas were education, health care, urban planning and social services, with equality of opportunity in each the immediate aim and equality of outcomes as a recognized unreachable benchmark for different social groups. The bold vision was in the end torn down by recession and cultural reaction from a people for whom the social costs were too much too fast. Whitlam still divides the Australian opinion today, as the proponent of the last great cause.

Universities received greatly increased per capita funding for student places. Equal opportunity and affirmative action was entrenched in the public sector well beyond the federal sphere of influence. Official multiculturalism was promulgated and the rights of minorities, especially girls, Aborigines, rural children, migrant children and the physically and mentally handicapped were protected and advanced. Funding for childcare was made available to empower working mothersa system that existed in moderated form until the early 1990s. At secondary level, the radical experience of South Australia was extended to the federal scene by Peter Karmel through the Australian Schools Commission. The system of government grants to schools was means tested, meaning that more resources flowed to the poorer Catholic schools than to the private grammar schools. More importantly, the beneficiaries of a student generation of free university education remained beholden to the vision of democratic education, a cohort that still fills many of education's senior positions, and resents the swing to a market economy that is transforming social activism into market awareness.

As the century ended, Australians awaited the federal government's final word on whether the recommendation of devolved educational funding, such as a voucher system would be put into place. Elements of devolved budgeting are in place, such as the Howard Liberal Government of Enrollment Benchmark Adjustment (EBA) which facilitates the establishment of non-government schools, and penalizes those public systems which lose market share. The use of the EBA has also provided a way of estimating the scale of movement towards the private system in Australia: in 2000, DETYA estimated that, "the gradual movement of students to the nongovernment school sector has saved the states some $3 billion since 1983" (DETYA, 2000c). The NSW government estimated in 2000 that its public system would be losing some $50 million per year by 2003 to EBA due to the shift towards private schools (NSWDET 2000). In the same year, most states were closing surplus public schools in older suburban areas due to declining numbers of school-aged children and the growth of the private sector. Some tensions, particularly as relates to hiring policies and such issues as corporal punishment, have arisen over the fact that receipt of federal funding requires private schools to comply.

Nonformal Education

The quality of the Australian education system is protected by prosecuting misleading or deceptive conduct, including the provision of misleading or deceptive information on courses or accreditation. Similar protection is extended to overseas students through the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulation) (ESOS) Act 1991, which requires that "all providers offering education and training services to overseas students must be accredited to provide specific courses (and approved to provide these courses to overseas students) by relevant State/Territory authorities, and be registered on the Commonwealth Register of International Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)." Quality controls were implemented in 2001-2 through the Multilateral Joint Planning Committee (MJPC) protocol formulated through joint discussions between Federal and State ministries (DETYA 2000e).

In 1997 private providers accounted for 49 percent of external courses not leading to an award and public providers accounted for the remaining 51 percent. With the formalization of state-based laws requiring the accreditation of most awards, the amalgamation of universities, and the search for community-based support for university programs, there has been a significant reduction in the percentage of non-award courses offered by private providers in the postsecondary sector (declining from 73 to 49 percent between 1993 and 1997) and a slight rise in the market share of private providers in enrolled award students (DETYA 2000a). There are 46 tertiary institutions presently obtaining government funding as recognized tertiary providers, in addition to a widespread state system for technical education, and a great number of smaller privately run business, professional, and vocational colleges.

Teaching Profession

In 2000, almost all Australian universities prepared teachers for primary education. Most covered education in both school and non-school settings and included such areas as early childhood education; primary and secondary education; vocational education and training; and special education, applied linguistics, language education, and technology Education. With a swing towards standards-based education, there was increasing pressure for preparation for tertiary teaching. The development of standards such as the AQF has been followed by national standards development for an increasing number of areas, for instance, the National Assessment Framework for Languages as Senior Secondary Level, which allows comparison between matriculation level language curricula across the various states.

Recognition of external teacher qualifications demonstrates the existence of a general consensus that, despite variation between the various teacher registration schemes in various states, basic teacher preparation requires four year trained status, the equivalent of an Australian Bachelor's degree, at least a year's of specific studies in education and methodology, and six weeks of supervised practical teaching. The competition for positions in the state systems has pushed teacher education even further up the road to professionalization, with it being very common for teachers to pursue professional advancement through Masters degrees, one of the proliferating professional doctorates (in Educational Administration, Education, or Management), or upskilling by horizontal expansion of skills into new areas, such as computer sciences.

In the end, it was the baby boom and the expansionist government's immigration policies aimed at filling up the empty spaces of Australia that democratized the system more effectively than progressive educational policy. On the one hand, progressivism in education, as with modernism in theology and the theory of progress generally, was a dying force. During war and depression, the world saw enough to blunt its belief in humanist utopias. On the other hand, more children staying in school longer stretched resources to the limit. Increasing numbers within the primary school encouraged regular promotion from class to class and reduced the significance of the examination or other system of assessment by which pupils at the end of the primary school were allocated to secondary schools. This wave, in turn, put pressure on the comprehensive secondary schools, which were increasingly built in drawing areas located on the edge of the metropolitan sprawl developing in Australian cities, and on the teachers' colleges, which needed to produce sufficient graduates for the new educational growth industry.


In an age of rapid change, it is clear that educational standards, content, and means of delivery are under constant pressure. The challenge for Australian education is multi-leveled. At the K-6 level, the devolution of funding and organization, on the one hand, tied to increasing bureaucratic control through imposition of external standards raises serious questions about the role of the Australian Welfare state. The presupposition built up among most Australians since the middle of last century was that the State would provide the basic needs of life. That expectation has been impossible, despite government review of national taxation systems, that have led to public angst about hospitals, roads, social welfare and other elements of Australian life. One spin off of this is a declining faith in public education, as marked by steady growth in private provision at all levels of education. For those institutions in the public system, the gap created by the status of government needs to be overcome, in particular by a closer embedding of institutions in real constituencies. The sort of alumni support of institutions and culture of private philanthropy which underpins the American system of education is largely absent in Australia, a lack which will be of supreme importance as institutions are increasingly privatized and forced into competitive markets. The launching of devolution programs among primary schools was often destructive, as the communities in which they were meant to fish for support did not actually exist in sociological terms (Welch 1996).

Geographical placement of schools means little in suburban settings when most members of those suburbs are free to create private spheres unrelated to their actual location. The information age continues to exacerbate this problem, with the extension of communities into supranational virtual spaces. This is a major challenge to a public provision system based on principles of geographical saturation. While the re-orientation of the Australian tax system towards goods and services taxation has released new resources for public expenditure, it has also worsened the shift away from the states observable in financial arrangements since the 1950s. Primary and secondary education are likely to see an increase in federal supervision of their activities, despite the fact that the legal responsibility lies with the states.

This federal supervision creates significant problems in meeting local needs and in overcoming the welfare gap. As Peter Berger noted with regard to religious organizations, the vacuum created for mediating institutions by the overarching welfare state will no doubt continue to provide considerable impetus to the growth of private providers. The problem this creates is that private providers have historically been unable to unlock the sorts of resources needed to meet the huge range of social needs found in a multicultural, scattered, and geographically extensive Australian society. Public schools thus face the threat of becoming providers for special needs only.

A small player in a large international market, Australian education has much to teach the world about distance education, flexible delivery, and teaching in a first world, multicultural society. It is, however, facing significant issues in terms of retaining coherency between public policy and actual provision and social outcomes, issues which will remain with Australian education for years to come.


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Mark Hutchinson

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Perceptions of childhood in Australia have long been dominated by the notion that there used to be and perhaps still is something special, precious, and distinctive about the Australian child. Yet it is difficult to reconcile this generalized national child with the exceptionally broad range of actual childhood experience. In fact, what has been more distinctive about Australian childhood may be the profound and pervasive influence of this nationalist ideal on child-raising concepts and welfare policies, helping to justify and rationalize a broad range of interventions between parent and child.

Colonized at the end of the eighteenth century, largely by British emigrants, it was almost inevitable that the Australian continent would be seen not just as another New World but as an ideal environment in which to rear the young. Sentimental and economic investment in childhood merged with concurrent ideals of individual liberty and egalitarianism to produce a particularly trenchant version of the prevailing cult of childhood innocence and malleability. Every child was a potential citizen, and the seedbed of all that the individual and the nation might become. And such was the opportunity to realize this potential, and the freedom from the dictatorial Old World constraints of father, church, or crown, that childhood could not but be joyous, mischievous, and free. Thus, as early as the 1820s, it was said that the children of people who arrived as convicts flourished in Australia to the point where they overcame both the vices and disadvantages of their parents.

The Nationalist Ideal

By the late nineteenth century, growing nationalist sentiment stepped in to foster these ideals. The separation and elevation of the child's world became imbued both with patriotic fervor and with eugenic concerns, so that the white Australian child, and particularly the adolescent, was seen to epitomize the vitality and resources of nation and race. This was true elsewhere but was especially the case in Australia, where the new nation was perceived as an innocent, energetic, and independent offshoot of the old. Idealistic and young, it was represented as eager to equal and impress the wily old mother country, though not throw off all of the maternal bonds.

This construction of a nationalist child was all the more pervasive in Australia because of its particular identification with the land, or bush. In the lead-up to Federation, nationalists created an influential rural ideology postulating that special spiritual, mental, and physical qualities were fostered by the white Australian's battle to explore, cultivate, and tame the inland. This ideology was soon applied to the young, especially boys. The result was a stream of journalism, ballads, stories, paintings, photographs, and later films celebrating a hardy little bush-bred (white) boy whose potential manhood was honed in helping to fight bushfires, blacks, floods, and drought, then tested and proved on the battlefields of World Wars I and II. This lively little Australian male was a miniature pioneer, fairly rebellious, even a larrikin, but always heterosexual, innocent, and never the moral cripple that social reformers imagined inhabited the city slum.

Viewed through this nationalist lens, the ideal Australian child was also exceptionally healthy, always provided he was reared in the wide sunny spaces of the bush, or failing that, the beach. Even in the days of convict colonization, tallness in the native-born was taken as a measure not just of physical health but of moral rectitude, and by the 1880s the measurement and medical inspection of school children was seen as crucial for assessing how well the white population might fill up the nation's vast interior and people its tropical north. A falling birthrate and rising rates of infant mortality lent fuel to these concerns, the more so since the first generations of "currency" children (the first generations of white children born in Australia) had been isolated by sheer distance from the main infectious diseases that elsewhere afflicted the young. But rising family immigration, peaking during the gold rushes of the 1850s, and the concentration of the child population in the growing ports and towns, meant that mortality rates soon approached those of the main European centers. The presence of more prolific and supposedly expansionist nations to the north lent a special urgency to public health initiatives to reduce mortality and improve the physique of the white Australian child.

This nationalist ideology rested uneasily with the modernization of the family, feminism, and the elevation of women as "mothers of the race." In Australian nationalist cultural products, younger children, mothers, and girls were more often associated with urban life, and even with the perceived disease and corruption of the city. If they strayed into the male realm of the bush, they were routinely depicted as lost in it, or driven mad by it, or even more misogynistically, as spoiling male freedom and camaraderie by venturing there at all. Mothers were invisible, peripheral, or heavily criticized as spoiling the development of their sons, while the ideal father became defined as boyish and egalitariana mate. The application of nationalist ideals to girls was seen as doubtful in the extreme. Sisters rarely appeared in the nationalist ideal, and if they did they had to be much more obedient than males, and fairly athletic. Sometimes thought of as "little Aussie battlers," above all they had to be good sports.

State Involvement

This ideology operated not merely to obscure the numerous departures from the ideal, but to justify a broad range of interventions in other patterns of child life that were thought to threaten the nationalist ideal. These departures were not intrinsically different from similar initiatives elsewhere, and were similarly liberal, justified in terms of the need to realize the rights of the child. In Australia, however, they were particularly trenchant, owing to the early and powerful role of the state in constructing and refining family life.

Beginning in the earliest settlements, the lack, for most families, of a network of supportive kin, coupled with the paucity of established, well-endowed charities, meant that the nascent state was forced to provide both food and clothing for impoverished mothers and children and construct a network of orphanages and asylums to house them. Arguably the penal nature of the earliest societies and the prejudice against women convicts began a tradition whereby it was perceived as mandatory to remove the vulnerable infant from mothers deemed unfit, sending them either into institutions or to families who would take over their upbringing.

During the colonial period, the idea that Australia was a healthy place to send British orphans and juvenile offenders meant that approved families in Australia became accustomed to receiving other people's children, who were both a labor source and a future population resource. And though the extremes of child labor characteristic of industrialized cities in Britain were not a feature of Australian child life, the ongoing demand for domestic and especially rural labor meant that children removed from the care of relatives and parents were exploited, even into the early twentieth century and beyond. Cases of cruelty and sexual abuse in the various children's institutions themselves were not unusual but normally went undetected until a change in legislation or in personnel caused a government enquiry, followed by a reshuffling of staff.

Another factor making for high rates of child removal in Australia was the early demographic imbalance. The colonial convict system, followed by waves of gold rush immigration, favored a predominance of males, which was not corrected by the efforts of moral reformers to import shiploads of pauper women and girls. It was not until the 1860s that sex ratios began to level out and rates of marriage and family formation began to increase, and by that time concerns about illegitimacy, prostitution, male homosexuality, and venerealdisease further seemed to justify removal of the "innocent"child.

Patterns of male employment further weakened the family life of children at risk. Even as late as the 1950s, the bush provided opportunities for men, single and married, to eke out a living, usually as itinerant bush workersfencing, mustering, droving, and shearingand sometimes as gold-seekers, or fossickers, after the main alluvial deposits had been won. Coupled with the fact that Australia was largely an immigrant society, the result was high rates of family desertion, especially during the nineteenth century, with husbands and fathers slipping away, either up the country or back to families left behind in Britain. Efforts by the state to force men to provide maintenance were largely unsuccessful, and it was the state that assumed the role of father, further creating a tradition of bureaucratic control over family life.

Intervention and Aboriginal Children

This pattern of intervention in child life undoubtedly had its most severe and prolonged effect on the continent's indigenous children. The practice of taking in Aboriginal children who appeared to be orphans dated from the earliest days of settlement at Sydney, when Nanbaree and Booron, left homeless by the first smallpox epidemic, were placed as servants in the homes of two prominent officials. But even this initial act was not entirely charitable. The children were expected to become servants, and within a decade a phrenological report on their "progress" towards "civilization" had appeared in an American scientific journal. Both children were considered failures, beginning a pattern that was to be repeated thousands of times around the continent as children whose families had been killed, had died of disease, or simply could not be found at the moment were taken away, first informally by settlers, whalers, sealers, and pastoral workers, either for labor or sexual purposes or both, and later by authorized agents of the state. The fact that these children, if they survived, usually tried to find their way back to their own people was taken as a further indicator of their nomadic habits, and hence of their need to be removed.

While the state never officially condoned cruelty or the sexual exploitation of indigenous children, as was true of all the other Australian children removed "for their own good," the cruelty of the act of removal was not seen as an issue. For non-Aboriginal children, from the early twentieth century on, new theories of the importance of mothering, plus the sheer cost of institutionalizing so many, forced an increasing emphasis on monitoring impoverished children or juvenile offenders in their own households. For Aboriginal children, however, archaic policies of wholesale removal and long-term separation continued to be applied. This racial edge in state policy became apparent as early as the 1880s, when Aboriginal children began to be excluded from compulsory primary education. In this period, spates of new legislation specified precisely where Aboriginal families might live and work, and in some cases legislation also sought to control Aboriginal marriage. These policies continued into the 1960s, and in some states even later. Meanwhile, Aboriginal living conditions remained appalling, and infant mortality and child removal and incarceration rates remained extraordinarily high.


For many children, Australia has undoubtedly been a place to grow up happy and contented. The absence of a rigid, hereditary class structure and of extreme exploitation in factories and mines, the early provision of facilities for education, and even the ever-present bush and beach have all made for equality of opportunity as well as freedom and fun. The down side has been the narrow, interventionist, and in some cases racially motivated agenda that has always underlain the otherwise well-intentioned rhetoric of the rights of the child.

See also: New Zealand; Placing Out.


Kociumbas, Jan. 1997. Australian Childhood: A History. St. Leonards, NSW, Australia: Allen and Unwin.

Jan Kociumbas

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Australia
Region (Map name): Oceania
Population: 19,357,594
Language(s): English, native languages
Literacy rate: 100.0%
Area: 7,686,850, sq km
GDP: 390,113 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 48
Total Circulation: 3,030,000
Circulation per 1,000: 196
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 233
Total Circulation: 374,000
Circulation per 1,000: 24
Newspaper Consumption (minutes per day): 35
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 581 (Euro millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 41.60
Number of Television Stations: 104
Number of Television Sets: 10,150,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 524.3
Television Consumption (minutes per day): 177
Number of Cable Subscribers: 1,305,600
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 68.0
Number of Radio Stations: 608
Number of Radio Receivers: 25,500,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 1,317.3
Radio Consumption (minutes per day): 138
Number of Individuals with Computers: 8,900,000
Computers per 1,000: 459.8
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 6,600,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 341.0
Internet Consumption (minutes per day): 6

Background & General Characteristics

In its infancy Australian communication was dominated by a single goalto improve connections to the motherland, Great Britain. Even though Australia had already been joined with Britain via overseas cable in 1863, it was not until 1910 (38 years later) that it was linked via cable to the rest of its own Pacific region. The Australian federal government focused time, money, and attention on communicating with Europe rather than with the more remote regions of Australia. Press coverage and broadcast media programming reflected a Eurocentric outlook. The later twentieth century, however, saw the increased presence of aboriginal people in the media and greater coverage of the Asia-Pacific region. Long influenced by British, continental and American trends, Australia began to come into its own as a media force.

The Nature of the Audience

Literacy rates in Australia are very high, with 100 percent of those over 15 able to read and write. English is the primary language, but a number of aboriginal languages are spoken as well. Caucasians make up 92 percent of Australia's population, Asians 7 percent, and aboriginal and other racial groups 1 percent.

Australia is a democratic, federal-state system that recognizes the British monarch as sovereign. The Australian judiciary system is based upon English common law. Although Australia is the world's smallest continent, it is the sixth-largest country. Its population is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts.

Newspaper History

The first newspaper in Australia was the Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser. A government-controlled weekly, its first issue was produced on March 5, 1803. The printer and editor was former convict George Howe. At that time and for several decades to come, the British colonial governors had absolute control not only of the penal colonies of Australia, but also its print publications. Total censorship was lifted around 1825 and a few independent newspapers began in urban areas. One of the earliest was the Sydney Morning Herald, which became the sole property of the Fairfax family during the 1850s and which remains under their control. In 1856, the company became known as John Fairfax and Sons. After World War II, the Fairfax group moved into broadcast media by purchasing radio and television interests. A new newspaper, The Australian, began publication on July 15, 1964. In 2002 it remained the only national newspaper for general interest news.

In the mid-1980s, metropolitan daily newspapers in Australia experienced a rash of acquisitions and mergers. During this period, of the 18 urban newspapers, 12 changed ownership; three of them changed ownership twice. Also in the mid-1980s changing ownership affected all Australian commercial television broadcasters. By the end of the 1980s Rupert Murdoch's News Corp claimed 60 percent of the national television audience, while Fairfax Television Properties had only 20 percent. During this period financial transactions involving both print and television properties allowed the marketplace, rather than government strategic planning, to determine media ownership.

Australia's Coverage of the Pacific Region

Prior to World War II there was relatively little coverage of the Pacific region by Australian newspapers or radio. Following the war, the coverage expanded dramatically, but there has been a continued trend to focus on disasters and political turmoil in the region. As Anthony Mason points out in his article "Coups and Conflict," "Essentially, the Australian media is only interested in covering the Pacific if it involves a coup, a conflict, or a natural disaster. The only positive stories are primarily related to tourism" (57). Mason also describes the media outlets in Australia, New Zealand, and other industrialized nations that engaged in "Parachute Journalism." This refers to the practice of sending reporters into a media hot spot only for the time needed to cover an event. Currently some Australia media such as The Australian, The Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC), and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) have full time or senior correspondents responsible for the Pacific region.

Number of Newspapers by Circulation Groups

In Australia in 2000, there were a total of 48 daily newspapers consisting of 10 metropolitan, 2 national and 36 regional papers. There were 10 Sunday newspapers.

The largest newspaper in Australia is the Herald Sun, published in Victoria by the Herald and Weekly Times, a News Corp property. It is a tabloid with a circulation of over half a million. The second largest is the tabloid Daily Telegraph of New South Wales, published by Mirror Australia Telegraph Publications, also a News Corp holding. Its average circulation is 412,000. The Sydney Morning Herald of New South Wales, published by John Fairfax Publications, is the third largest newspaper. It is a broadsheet with a circulation of 223,000. The fourth largest is Courier Mail of Queensland, published by Queensland Newspapers, a News Corp property. It is a broadsheet with a circulation of 212,000. The tabloid West Australia, located in Western Australia, is the fifth largest newspaper. It is published by West Australian Newspapers and has a circulation of 206,000. The sixth largest is The Advertiser, located in South Australia, and published Advertiser Newspapers, a News Corp property. It is a tabloid and the average circulation is 200,000. The broadsheet The Age, of Victoria, is the seventh largest newspaper. Published by John Fairfax Publications, its circulation is 191,000. The eighth largest is The Australian, published by Mirror Australia Telegraph Publications, a News Corp holding. It is a broadsheet, and circulation averages 133,000. The ninth largest newspaper is the Australian Financial Review, published by John Fairfax Publications. It is a tabloid and average circulation is 193,000. The tabloid The Mercury, of Tasmania, published by Davies Bros., a News Corp property, is Australia's tenth largest newspaper. It has a circulation of 49,000.

Top Media Companies

News Corp Limited News Corp is a highly diversified global corporation that engages in the production and distribution of audiovisual products in Australia, the United States, Europe, and Asia. News Corp has interests in motion pictures, television programming, satellite and cable broadcasting systems, the publication of newspapers, magazines, and books, and the production of online programming. The major properties of News Corp in the United States are Twentieth Century Fox Movie Studios, Fox Television Network, Fox All-News Network, and various book publishers. Many American movie and television productions appear in Australian theaters or on commercial television channels as part of News Corp's global marketing strategy.

News Corp makes about 25 percent of its profits from global businesses, with fully 75 percent of that coming from its U.S. investments. News Corp global revenues are about $15 billion (U.S.) annually.

A major News Corp property is Fox Studio Australia. Fox Studio is a multi-use facility and movie studio. Located on a 60-acre site, it includes entertainment, shopping, and dining and sponsors a number of events. It is the only Twentieth Century Fox studio outside the United States, and has offered complete services for major international films such as Moulin Rouge, Star Wars Episode 2, Babe 2, and The Matrix.

News Corp owns several newspapers across Australia in both large and small markets. It also operates Fox Sports Australia. In addition, News Corp owns 25 percent of FOXTEL, a pay television service offering a number of movie, sports and news channels. FOXTEL began operation in 1995 and is available via cable or satellite to more than 70 percent of Australians.

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch and his family hold about 30 percent of the company's shares. He was born in 1931 in Melbourne to newspaper manager and editor Sir Keith Murdoch. Sir Keith was a working journalist in both England and Australia and ultimately managed a chain of Australian newspapers headquartered in Adelaide, Australia, which later became News Corp's world headquarters.

Sir Keith died in 1952 and the control of two of his newspapers passed to his young son, Rupert Murdoch. Rupert attended Oxford and had just finished apprenticeships in England at the Birmingham Gazette and Fleet Street's Daily Express when his father died. The two newspapers in Australia that he inherited were the Adelaide News and a Sunday paper, the Weekly Times. Rupert Murdoch quickly turned the Adelaide News into a financial success and in the late 1950s he expanded the company with the profits. He bought the Perth Sunday Times, started the successful TV Week, and in 1958 he entered the television business.

In the 1960s Murdoch expanded his print properties with the purchase of the Cumberland newspapers as well as the Sydney Daily and the Sunday Mirror. Over time he added more magazines, book publishers, film and record companies in Australia.

During the 1970s Murdoch began buying properties in England, most notably BSkyB satellite system. In the United States he established a major media presence with purchase of Twentieth Century Fox movie studios, Fox Television Network, and other properties. News Corporation was established as a public company in 1979. In 1985, Murdoch became a U.S. citizen in order to meet regulatory requirements for the purchase of Federal Communication Commission controlled licenses for the U.S. television industry. He expanded into Asia with Star TV, a satellite based system that broadcast across many nations, particularly India and China, acquiring 64 percent of it in 1993. In 2002 Star TV posted a profit for the first time. Rupert Murdoch's youngest son, James Murdoch, and his Chinese-born wife, Wendy Ding, run Star TV jointly. Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth served as general manager of BSkyB in the 1990s but has since left the company. She continues to be involved in mass media by running her own production company. The eldest son, Lachlan, is a senior executive at News Corp.

In addition to its broadcast media holdings, News Corp also controls Harper Collins Publisher and also owns Triangle Publications, which publishes TV Guide and global magazines such as Seventeen. Murdoch also has made major investments in the Internet and is attempting to link his diverse print media for Internet traffic and sales. News Corp has been particularly active in developing Web sites for its major properties in Australia and elsewhere. Approximately 50 percent of News Corp's revenues come from electronic media properties and the balance from print media, with the bulk of the profits for the global corporation currently coming from holdings in the United States.

John Fairfax Publications Fairfax Community Newspapers has 28 community publications located mainly in Australian urban regions. The company dates back to 1865 and publishes some of the oldest community newspapers in Australia. APN News and Media APN is Australia's largest operator of regional newspapers, radio broadcasting and outdoor advertising, with interests in specialist publishing, pay television and the rapidly expanding digital market.

APN was listed on the Australia Stock Exchange for the first time in 1992. At this time it was a publisher of regional newspapers in Queensland and NSW.

Rural Press Limited Rural Press is a specialist agricultural and regional publisher. Its first publication was The Land, launched in 1911 by a group of people who felt that farmers and grazers needed a strong advocate in the face of agriculture's falling political power. The Land is the principal carrier of information to people whose lives and work revolve around the Australia land. The Rural Press is dedicated to enhancing the economic, political and social well being of the rural and regional communities throughout Australia.

The Rural Press also serves rural people in New Zealand and the United States. Rural Press operates three principal divisions: Agricultural Publishing, Regional Publishing, and Printing. The Agricultural Publishing Division produces a range of weekly and monthly newspapers that serve Australia and New Zealand's primary producers and agribusinesses.

West Australian Newspapers Limited West Australian Newspapers is the publisher of The West Australian and 19 other West Australia regional newspapers. The West Australian was first published in 1833. Still in existence, the newspaper sells about 210,000 copies Monday through Friday and 385,000 for the weekend edition on Saturdays, which has more than one million readers. The principal activities of the WA Newspapers consist of newspaper publishing, commercial printing and radio communications.

Trading Post Group Trading Post Group's The Melbourne Trading Post was founded in 1966. In 1968, both the Sydney Metropolitan Trading Post and the Personal Trading Post in Brisbane commenced publication. Today, the Trading Post Group publishes 11 Trading Post publications around Australia as well as Autotrader in Perth, Buysell in Sydney, Collectormania and the leading Web site The group is also now part of, a global leader in classified advertising.

Economic Framework

Overview of the Economic Climate & its Influence on Media

Australia has a free-enterprise market economy. Australian media operates in a mixed ownership milieu with both public sector media outlets such as ABC, and private sector commercial properties. These two sectors are highly professional, competitive, and seek long-run strategies to remain competitive in the greater Asian pacific region. Because the media depend upon advertising revenue as a major source of income, they depend upon a healthy economy in order to prosper.

Newspaper Chains & Cross Ownership

Prime Minister Howard's federal government in Australia announced in 2002 a new cross media ownership bill. The bill sought to mandate that print newspapers and television stations owned by the same owner must maintain separate decision making structures, such as journalists and editors. This provided for two separate bureaus even in the same city in order to have distinct editorial staff, policy, and guidelines. Although technologies were converging, particularly with digital formats, it is interesting to note that Australia was attempting to maintain the old analog distinction between content and carrier. The chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Company, David Flint, was responsible for examining companies with multiple operations in the same city to ensure that they were complying with the recent legislation.

Press Laws

As a result of the Australian media's early focus on European news and affairs, the expansion of radio, cable and other wireless technologies across Australia was not a federal priority. However, this did leave room for urban areas to continue to rely on newspapers for their national news. For international news these papers depended upon the Reuters cable feed from London and once again a Eurocentric slant was the prism through which Australians saw the world, even though geographically they were in the Pacific rim.

The 1993 Racial Vilification Legislation, which came into effect in October 1995, provides for complaints about the accuracy of the portrayal of Aboriginal people in the media. It is administered by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.

Federal Government Activities

The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) is an independent federal authority responsible for the regulation of radio, television, and Internet content in Australia. One of ABA's major activities is overseeing compulsory regulatory standards in regards to commercial television with Australian content. These rules are designed to promote Australian culture, history, and ideas, and to provide employment for Australians in the audiovisual industries. They were created because of the growth and domination of American content, particularly during prime time hours. These objectives to provide an Australian identity and promote cultural diversity have sometimes been questioned by commercial television operators. Standards that took effect on March 1, 1999, call for 55 percent of all programming broadcasts on an annual basis to be Australian in creation or in content. There are also specific rules concerning children's educational programming and content. Certain provisions permit some New Zealand programming to be counted as part of the Australian quota.

The ABA's oversight for radio involves monitoring and assistance with technical planning and the assignment of the broadcast service band. The ABA commenced a study in 1992 to completely reframe radio broadcasting services across Australia. The report was completed in 2001, but with the introduction of new services, particularly digital and audio broadcasts via the Internet, much of the study had been rendered obsolete.

Created by the Australian government, the Federal Department for Indigenous Affairs protects indigenous people and their cultures. This includes not only promoting indigenous art and ceremonies, but also returning to original Aboriginal owners land that was confiscated by British and Australian authorities in past centuries.

Aboriginal Media

The treatment of aboriginal people throughout Australia's history is a topic of much contention. Much of the information about the treatment and handling of Aboriginals is contained in the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In general, the media coverage of Aboriginals and Aboriginal issues has focused on negative news. Because of the Eurocentric nature of the early history of Australia, concepts of race, class, and what constitutes appropriate behavior were imported from Europe and imposed on the Aboriginals.

The 1991 Royal Commission made four recommendations concerning the role of the media in terms of the broader Aboriginal environment in Australia. These recommendations were:

  • Recommendation 205. That (a) Aboriginal media organizations should receive adequate funding where necessary in recognition of the importance of their function; (b) all media organizations should be encouraged to develop codes and policies relating to the presentation of Aboriginal issues, the establishment of monitoring bodies, and the putting into place of training and employment programs for Aboriginal employees in all classifications.
  • Recommendation 206. That the media industry and media unions be requested to consider the establishment of and support for an annual award or awards for excellence in Aboriginal affairs reporting to be judged by a panel of media, union and Aboriginal representatives.
  • Recommendation 207. That institutions providing journalism courses be requested to: (a) Ensure that courses contain a significant component relating to Aboriginal affairs, thereby reflecting the social context in which journalists work, and, (b) Consider in consultation with the media industry and media unions the creation of specific units of study dedicated to Aboriginal affairs and the reporting thereof.
  • Recommendation 208. That in view of the fact that many Aboriginal people throughout Australia express disappointment in the portrayal of Aboriginal people by the media, the media industry and media unions should encourage formal and informal contact with Aboriginal organizations, including Aboriginal media organizations where available. The purpose of such contact should be the creation on all sides of a better understanding of issues relating to the media treatment of Aboriginal affairs (McKee 11-12).

There are some examples of positive media coverage. In 1994 ABC television produced a drama series entitled Heartland. It had a cast that consisted of Aboriginals as well as non-Aboriginals. It examined the reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians and through its various episodes dealt in a sensitive way with the different approaches and hopes of both groups and their cultures. Following the Royal Commission, a Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was established. One of its main tasks was to brief media organizations, editors, and journalists about Aboriginal history, culture, languages, people, and future goals.

In the early 2000s, the indigenous media sector in Australia was one of the fastest growing. The National Indigenous Media Association of Australia (NIMAA) promotes the fight against racism and exclusion and establishes a National Aboriginal broadcasting authority across Australia. The NIMAA reported that there were almost 100 community radio stations that carry at least some Aboriginal community programming. Some community television programming exists as well. However, Aboriginals were most often those listening to Aboriginal radio or reading Aboriginal newspapers with relatively little crossover to non-Aboriginal groups.

In 1978 the Video Education Australasian (VEA) was created. It produces and markets video with two educational institutions across Australia and the Pacific region. VEA produces a number of videos dealing with indigenous Australians. The group promotes Aboriginal bands, Aboriginal books for children, Aboriginal civil rights, Aboriginal history and other educational programs for Australians as well as the international education market. VEA currently has 58 items dealing with Aboriginal themes.

In 1987 ABC television created a division entitled Aboriginal Programs Unit, which it later renamed the Indigenous Programs Unit. It produced a number of documentaries such as First Australians and Indigenous Current Affairs Magazine. ABC's employment policy strives for Aboriginal representation in 2 percent of its labor force. Currently it exceeds this goal. As a minority group, Aboriginals for the past number of years have received significant coverage across all media, but a substantial amount of the coverage is negative, focusing on crime, unemployment, and other problems.


Australia has a long and mixed history in terms of censorship. From the early twentieth century there was a federal government censor office, which rated a vast array of print and video materials, ranging from movies to greeting cards. In 1956 a Film Censorship Board was established to classify movies and later video. In 1988 this board was replaced by a broader Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) with a full time chief censor reporting to the Attorney General's office. The censorship classification system proved controversial and calls for reform were constant. A new set of guidelines was enacted in 1999 but they turned out to be more restrictive. In 2000, after the Office banned a popular art film entitled Romance, there were additional criticisms of the entire censorship process. In 2002 new legislation was being debated concerning Internet censorship issues as the activities of the OFLC have continued to attract critics.

In addition to the OFLC there is a separate category and process for television. Under this structure, which is the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, television stations report to the Minister for Communications.

Press Councils

The Australia Press Council (APC) was established in 1976 as the self-regulatory body for Australian print media. It has two goals: to help preserve the freedom of the press and to encourage the free press to act ethically and responsibility. In order to accomplish these goals there is a formal complaint mechanism. Participating newspapers and magazines fund the APC, and a 21-member council that represents publishers, journalists, and public members runs it.

The APC is concerned with the need to balance individuals' rights to privacy with the media's goal of informing the public about significant issues that are in the public interest. The council is also active in promoting discussion concerning the role and necessity of press freedom as well as educational initiatives including an APC fellowship, along with a number of public forums and publications detailing current media issues.

Freedom of Information Acts

The Western Australia Freedom of Information Act 1992 (F01) gives Australians the right to apply for access to government documents. There is also an Information Commission that in 1993 set up the Freedom of Information regulations.

State-Press Relations

A major new Broadcasting Act was passed in 1942. The same year, the government created the Gibson Committee, which sought to make recommendations to control the growth of radio in a more orderly fashion for both the private and public sectors. The Gibson Committee made a series of recommendations, of which one was implemented in 1948, amending the 1942 Broadcasting Act to create the Australian Broadcast Control Board (ABCB). It was charged with regulating and controlling broadcasting in order to ensure that adequate radio, television and other communication services were developed to serve the public interest.

In 1953, a Royal Commission on Television was created. The Australian television industry began to dominate public discussion about the mass media as well as federal government policy from that time onward. The witnesses called to appear before the Royal Commission were split between those who advocated an almost purely commercial television network across Australia and those opposed to such a concept. The latter group promoted a single, national, publicly financed television system, like England's BBC television, with no commercials at all. The final report of the Commission contained 68 recommendations. The report led to the awarding of commercial licenses in both Sydney and Melbourne. ABC television was given public stations in both major cities about the same time. From the start, the commercial television stations were dominated by existing newspaper barons. The young Rupert Murdoch communicated with the Royal Commission, on the side of promoting the introduction of commercial television in Australia. It did not take long before there was a public concern over the number of American shows on the commercial television stations, which led to the formation of the Vincent Committee in 1993. Its report, known as the Report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australia Productions for Television, examined the situation. The proposals in the report were for Australian content quotas and greater concern for the cultural impact of television across Australia.

In the early 2000s the question of television licenses was a major policy issue that remained unresolved. At that time there were three major national commercial television channelsSeven, Nine, and Ten. The Australian Communications Minister, through the Australian Broadcasting Authority, mandated a moratorium on new commercial television licenses until 2007. In an era of deregulation, privatization, and liberalization, this policy came under increasing criticism, including criticism from other federal departments such as the Australian Treasury and Finance Departments, and even from the Prime Minister's Office. Given the financial windfall that commercial television operators experienced, a number of organizations were eager to submit applications for new commercial licenses. They did not want to wait until 2007 while the current three commercial television networks enjoyed limited and restricted competition.

Attitude Toward Foreign Media

Foreign Media Holdings in Australia

CanWest Global Communications Corporation of Canada has a major investment in Australian mass media. CanWest Global is an international media company with vast holdings of print and electronic media in Canada as well as television properties in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. Can-West Global has a 57.5 percent equity stake in Australia's TEN Television Network. The voting share of the parent company limits CanWest Global to 15 percent of the overall voting shares. It became involved in Australia broadcasting with TEN networks in 1998.

Regulation of Foreign Ownership

Under government policy, all proposals for foreign companies to establish a newspaper, or acquire an interest of 5 percent or more of a newspaper, are subject to case-by-case examination by the Federal Treasurer.

The policy sets the following foreign ownership limits: for national and metropolitan newspapers, the maximum permitted foreign interest is 25 percent, while other unrelated foreign interests can have an additional 5 percent. For provincial and suburban newspapers (which are not usually published daily) foreign interests are limited to less than 50 percent for non-portfolio shareholders. These limits may be exceeded with approval from the Federal Treasurer. When this policy was introduced, the Federal Treasurer allowed existing foreign investors to remain in place.

News Agencies

Domestic News Agencies The Australian Associated Press (AAP) was formed as a cooperative in the 1930s. The cooperative model for press bureaus is similar to the one utilized by the Associated Press of the United States. AAP was designed to provide overseas news from bureaus based in London and New York. Today AAP is the largest news and information association in Australia. AAP works through a national pool of journalists that have bureaus and share their collective input. They have also opened a bureau in Jakarta, Indonesia. AAP established a communication company in 1984 and in 1991 established a telecommunications company, the third largest in Australia.

Four different media groups own AAP. They are News Corp, Fairfax Group, Western Australia Newspaper, and Newspapers & the Harris Group. AAP offers digital artwork for advertising and timely racing and financial information for the growing Internet trade. The international operations of AAP include AsiaNet, which is based in Sydney, and represents a consortium of Pacific region news agencies. Their material is rewritten to suit the Australian AAP media outlets. AAP also operates AsiaPulse, a real time commercial intelligence and news service covering the Asia region. AAP offers a News-Centre, a print monitoring service also available to business and government clients; MediaNet, a customized media list; NewsTrack, a 24-hour real-time international; and Australian news service via the Internet for subscribers.

Broadcast Media

State Policies Relating to Broadcasting

The federal government delegates many regulatory matters to Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT) and thus the Minister of Communication has considerable control over awarding licenses, policy, and control of strategic planning. During the 1970s and '80s the Australian Broadcast Act of 1942 was amended many times. In 1980 there was an investigation of Australian television content resulting in Television Program Standard 14, which mandates that 50 percent of prime time programs be Australian. In the 1990s, the introduction of pay television was a major policy issue. Several commercial television stations changed hands as did several metropolitan daily newspapers. Television North Queensland was acquired in part by Canadian company Can West. Canadian Conrad Black purchased Fairfax Broadcasting, which had suffered financial problems for much of the 1980s.

The Broadcasting Service Act of 1992 replaced the much-criticized ABT with the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA). Under the new regime, both privatization and liberalization became more apparent across the media sectors. The philosophical movement toward deregulation being promoted by two prominent conservative politicians, Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain and Ronald Reagan of the United States, also made its way to Australia. Although there was continuing concern about Australian cultural policy and activities, the dominance of a market driven economy relegated cultural issues to a second tier.

During the closing decades of the twentieth century, immigration patterns shifted considerably in Australia. The net inflow of Asian immigrants clearly outpaced European immigrants. As result, coverage and concern about Asian affairs began to displace European affairs in the media. Also at this time Australian Aboriginals began to promote their lifestyle, culture, and creative activities, demanding greater coverage by the mainstream media in Australia, particularly the government-run media outlets. An investigation by the federal government in the 1980s into Aboriginal affairs and tactics of previous governments led to a major policy change, particularly in terms of the proper role and promotion of Aboriginal rights. This study was a Royal Commission and set the groundwork for future pro-Aboriginal legislation across Australian society, including, of course, the media. With the introduction of satellites, broadcasting took a major shift in Australia; both radio and television stations began to broadcast across Asia as part of their activities.

The Federation of Australian Commercial Radio Broadcasting (FARB) was established in 1930 to represent the interests of commercial radio broadcasting. It began with only 33 members and currently has 241 members, which represent 98 percent of commercial radio operators in Australia. In the 1990s, there were a series of mergers and in 2002, 38 radio operators controlled 80 percent of the market. These operators formed into 12 national networks. The commercial radio industry generated close to $800 million (Australian dollars) in advertising revenue in 1999-2000.

Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is Australia's multicultural and multilingual public broadcaster, which began as an experiment in 1975. SBS Radio provides materials in 68 languages and is designed to reach the more than 2.5 million Australians whose native language is not English. It does this by producing over 650 hours of programming each week. Its mandate is to define, foster, and celebrate Australia's cultural diversity. It does this through radio and television programming which is intended to both entertain and educate. It is to be a reflection of Australia's multicultural society (particularly Aboriginals) and to promote understanding among different groups. More than 7.5 million Australians view SBS Television weekly. The programming is either Australian-produced or international programming, which focuses on other cultures, religions or issues.

Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio went on the air July 1, 1932. At that time ABC consisted of twelve outlets: two in Sydney, two in Melbourne, and one each in Brisbane, Adeline, Perth, and Hobart, with relay stations in four smaller cities. As with the British BBC, the early funding for this non-commercial radio came from a license fee for each radio. During the early years, all programming was live, and the stations were on the air only in the mornings and the evenings. A substantial amount of their programming consisted of news from Britain of weather, politics, stocks, and the ever-important shipping news. In terms of Australian content, recording studios were established to provide music and support orchestras. In addition, sporting events were covered ranging from cricket to local soccer matches. By the mid-1930s educational radio lessons were broadcast across Australia and became a major feature of ABC's activities. During this time the Australian Newspaper Proprietors Association also provided domestic and foreign news for the radio newsreaders.

When Great Britain entered World War II, Australia as a colony also entered the war and strict censorship followed. ABC produced programs aimed at boosting national spirits since the Japanese were overtaking major portions of Asia. During the war years ABC established a broadcasting unit in the Middle East to report on the actions of Australian troops. Also in 1942 the Australian Broadcasting Act was passed, giving the Cabinet Minister the right to direct broadcasting in the public interest. By 1946 ABC was required to broadcast Parliament, and in 1948 the license fee approach was changed. Future funds would come from an annual appropriation from Parliament.

ABC television was created in 1953 as a single national channel but with only two stations, one in Sydney and the other in Melbourne. Other television stations were added in other cities very quickly. Commercial television stations also went on the air during this period. ABC continued to attempt to create and reflect the diversity and perspectives of Australians. ABC television commissioned and supported children's programming, music and drama.

In the early 1980s, ABC radio began Aboriginal broadcasts and these shows increased greatly over time. An Aboriginal Broadcasting Unit was created in 1987. During the same period Parliament pressed for more Australian dramas and series in prime time to balance the growing number of American shows during evening hours. In 1983 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act was passed, replacing the 1942 Act. The new act created a board to ensure ABC's objectivity and independence. In 1985 a Concert Music Department was created, reflecting the continuing subsidy to several world class orchestras and making ABC one of the biggest promoters of orchestral music in the English speaking world.

In the 1990s ABC began to focus its regional coverage on the Asian region, rather than Europe and Great Britain. News and public affairs continued to be the defining characteristic of ABC's media role. It has restarted its short wave radio service to Asia and provides Radio Australia to 110 rebroadcast partners across Asia via cable, satellite and the Internet.

ABC receives funding from two sources. The bulk of its funding comes from government appropriations that are an annual budgetary allocation from the tax revenue accumulated by the Australian National Government. A second source of revenue comes from the sale of goods and services, particularly reruns of popular ABC drama and comedy shows. In 1999-2000, ABC revenues were $678 million from the federal purse and $150 million from other sources. Financial concerns related to the movement from an analog transmission environment to a digital transmission environment. From time to time the Australian Senate establishes a select committee to investigate particular aspects of either ABC management or ABC operations in order to insure that the government's policies and objectives about public interest and nation building are maintained. Some critics are concerned about political pressure and threats to the independence of the ABC, since it is responsible to the federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA). The cabinet minister for the department is responsible to the Australian Parliament for all of ABC's activities including budgetary and policy items.

ABC is working in a changing environment. The entire role and scope of government activities is being challenged in an era of liberalization and privatization. With technologies creating new services and distributors, ABC competes with many audiovisual suppliers, including the Internet, for a limited audience. ABC's federal funding, like many public broadcasters' around the world, has decreased by almost one third since the mid-1980s.

Television History

In 1953 the Television Act created a national public service, ABC-TV, and approved issuing licenses for commercial stations as well. The commercial sector via TCN-9 broadcast the first television signal in September 1956. Two months later ABC broadcast television in Sydney, and two weeks after that in Melbourne. ABC made television service available in Brisbane by 1959, and in Adelaide, Perth and Hobart in 1960.

Early Australian television broadcast a number of important shows. One of these was Melbourne Tonight, which debuted on May 6, 1956. The legendary Graham Kennedy hosted the program. He continued to host this extremely popular variety show until 1975, when the Australian Broadcasting Control Board banned Kennedy from broadcasting live, claiming that he had used inappropriate language on live television. The variety show, in terms of format, mimicked aspects of the U.S. television legend Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Another important early television show was entitled Four Corners. Modeled after a highly successful BBC program called Panorama, it was a public affairs program; with no national newspaper at that time in Australia, it dominated public debate about major national issues. The program touched on politically sensitive issues and often criticized the government of the day.

During the earliest years of television in Australia, American series and movies dominated almost 80 percent of the schedule. British TV comprised part of the balance, particularly BBC productions. Even when Australian television produced its own materials, sets, and shows, they frequently mimicked either U.S. or British video production models.

Electronic News Media

In the early 2000s in Australia there were well over 250 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and nearly 8 million Internet users: There were 12 national and 8 foreign Internet news sources, ranging from Australian news and Bloomberg to One World. The number of Internet newspaper Web sites jumped from a mere 5 in 1997 to over 150 by the year 2000. Overall, Australian sites are not very popular compared with U.S. and British sites. Two notable exceptions are John Fairfax Holdings' widely respected f2 Network. The f2 Network consists of over 30 Internet sites, which are aimed at specific databases. Services range from car and house advertisements, career and business information, to entertainment and restaurant choices. Another notable web site is ABC online, which has other niche news sites such as Asia-Pacific and Indigenous affairs. ABC online also draws information from CNN, and BBC World Service, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

Today all of the Australian newspaper publishers are active in developing their own online interests. The newspapers' strategies consist of building strong traffic and revenues by focusing on revenue-generating services such as classifieds, finance, auctions and directories. Some industry spokespeople have speculated that the long term success of online classifieds will have a negative impact on traditional newspaper classified pages.

Education and Training

In Australia there are a number of Research Institutes, such as:

  • University of New South Wales Communication Law Center
  • Melbourne CIRCIT Research Institute
  • Griffith University, Brisbane
  • Institute of Cultural Policy Studies
  • Sydney University of Technology
  • Center for Independent Journalism
  • Australia Film, TV, and Radio School (Sydney)
  • Publisher of Media Information Australia
  • Course Concentrations MacQuarie University and Charles Stuart University
  • Queensland University, long history in a Department of Journalism
  • Deakin University Journalism Program
  • University of Canberra Graduate International Communication Program

Journalism as a career in Australia is attracting a large number of people. Many have university degrees, frequently in journalism or communication. However, openings in media outlets are scarce, and there is a large group of qualified individuals seeking entry-level positions. As compared to the United States, where over 80 percent of the working journalists have university degrees, primarily in journalism, fewer than a third of Australians have a baccalaureate degree. The major media outlets accept hundreds of applications, but frequently only hire the top 10 or 20. Some of those selected for the highly coveted full time training positions have degrees in Journalism or Communication, while others have degrees in other areas. In Australia there are two main newspaper groups: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and Fairfax. They take the bulk of the university journalism graduates. There is still a debate as to whether journalism schools are teaching the appropriate skills, or whether degrees in some other areas such as economics, political science, or Asian studies might not be more appropriate. Since many of the established editors and managers of media outlets in Australia rise up through the ranks without journalism degrees, they often prefer experience to education. In Australia as elsewhere, there is criticism that university graduates have a background that is ideologically driven and intellectually rigorous, but that the graduates lack practical training in how to write or how to use equipment.

Australia's first professor of journalism was John Henningham, who retired as Professor of Journalism at the University of Queensland. His forte was providing writing skills needed for the media, rather than focusing on broader areas offered in programs with a media studies focus. Although journalism as a profession is not held in high esteem in Australia, many high school graduates are turning to university programs with a journalism orientation.

Five Major Journalism Programs

  • Charles Stuart University (Bathurst, New South Wales). This program was founded in 1975 and is a mixture of theory and practice. A number of graduates have been placed in leading Australia media outlets.
  • R.M.I.T University (Melbourne). Founded in 1972, this program has a strong liberal arts components and practical radio/newsroom training. The teaching staff includes a number of former Australian journalists.
  • University of Queensland (Brisbane). This program was founded in 1921, making it the oldest in Australia. The program has a strong slant toward reporting and writing skills as well as a mix of professional courses dealing with law, ethics, theory, etc. It still retains the basic print orientation, with electronic media being electives.
  • University of Southern Australia (Adelaide). This program, founded in 1973, has a practical focus, but also now teaches aspects of online journalism.
  • University of Technology (Sydney). This program was founded in 1978. It aims to educate students about the role media plays in a democratic society. It teaches critical thinking as well as the ethical and political aspects of the journalism discipline. A number of graduates serve as senior reporters for various Australian media outlets.

Journalism Education Association (JEA)

The JEA was formed in 1975 by a small group of concerned journalism academics. The goals of the association are to raise the standard of teaching in journalism across Australia, as well as develop closer ties between mass media practitioners and the academic community. During its initial meetings, members discussed at length the transition for working journalists who, later in their careers, had become academics and were teaching journalism in Australia. As the association grew, it began to accept memberships and academic paper presentations from New Zealand and other countries in the Asian region. Their newsletter evolved into a journal known as the Australian Journalism Review. The association continues to grow in strength and importance particularly given the substantial number of universities that teach courses in journalism, communication, media studies, and film.

Two programs deserve particular mention. The first is the University of Wollongong. Its graduate School of Journalism offers coursework and a degree in English in Hong Kong. A Master of Journalism degree is available electronically through a variety of multimedia materials. Professors sometimes visit Hong Kong to work with students.

In 1973 the Australian government founded the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School (AFTRS), headquartered in Northwestern Sydney with branches in Melbourne and Brisbane. The school also has representatives in other cities across Australia. There are full time programs as well as part time programs and short courses. Most of the course work is at the post-Baccalaureate level. In part due to government funding, the full time program is only available to Australian citizens or legal permanent residents. A variety of courses ranging from script writing, cinematography, directing, and producing, to radio digital media, documentary and television are offered. Some course work is available online and in early 2000 AFTRS planned to introduce the Global Film School (GFS). The GFS is designed to become the premier film making school around the world by offering courses online. It is a joint partnership of UCLA, AFTRS, and the National Film and Television School (NFTS). The NFTS is a full time MA program, offering course work in ten specialized areas. This film school is British and has a long and prestigious history in the area of documentary filmmaking.

Journalistic Awards and Prizes

In Australia the most prestigious awards for journalism are the annual Walkley Awards. The Walkleys were established in 1956 with five different categories. Each category has various subgroups. The three top prizes are the Gold Walkley, Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism and Journalistic Leadership. There are several sub-categories for radio, television, print and wire services, and other media. Over the years, ABC Radio and Television have received several awards as well as have major newspapers such as The Australian.


The Australian mass media has its origins in its strong ties to British press traditions. The early years of the press were dominated by censorship laws and controlled by British government agencies. In the twentieth century, with the arrival of greater competition, there was a lessening of government control and influence. The Australian press operates in a democratic environment. It also is served by a strong and attentive Australian Press Council.

Recently the Australian press has begun to include a larger role for Aboriginal media and issues. In addition, the Australian press is beginning to cover more of the Asia-Pacific region, leaving behind its historical preoccupation with Europe, particularly Great Britain, and the United States.


Appleton, Gillian. How Australia Sees Itself: The role of commercial television. Sydney: Australia Broadcasting Tribunal, 1988.

Bell, Phillip and Roger Bell. Implicated: The United States in Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Brown, Allan. Commercial Media in Australia. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1986.

Carmen Luke. "Media and Cultural Studies in Australia." Journal of Adolescence and Adult Literacy 43:8 (1999): 622-626.

Craik, Jennifer, Julie James Bailey and Albert Moran. Public Voices, Private Interests: Australia's media policy. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1995.

Cunningham, Stuart. Framing Culture: Criticism and culture in Australia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992.

Cunningham, Stuart and Toby Miller. Contemporary Australian Television. Sydney: The University of New South Wales Press, 1994.

Hartley, John and Alan McKee. The Indigenous Public Sphere. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Holden, W.S. Australia Goes to Press. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1961.

Mason, Anthony. "Coups and Conflict". Pacific Journalism Review. Vol. 7, no. 1. 2001.

Mayer, H. The Press in Australia. Sydney: Landsdown Press, 1968.

McKee, Alan. Australian Television: A genealogy of great moments. Victoria: Oxford University Press, 2001.

McPhail, Thomas. Global Communication: Theories, Stakeholders, and Trends. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2002.

Osborne, Graeme, and Glen Lewis. Communication Traditions in Twentieth century Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Prue, Torney-Parlicki. Somewhere in AsiaWar, Journalism and Australia's Neighbours 1941-75. New South Wales: University Press Ltd., 2000.

Rohm, Wendy. The Murdoch Mission. New York: John Wiley, 2002.

Shawcross, William. Rupert Murdoch: Ringmaster of the Information Circus. London: Chateo and Windus, 1992.

Wilson, H, ed. Australian Communications and the Public Sphere. Melbourne: Macmillan, 1989.

World Press Trends. Paris: World Association of Newspapers (WAN), 2001.

Thomas Lawrence McPhail, Ph.D.

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Commonwealth of Australia

CAPITAL: Canberra

FLAG: The flag has three main features: the red, white, and blue Union Jack in the upper left quarter, indicating Australia's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations; the white five-star Southern Cross in the right half; and the white seven-pointed federal star below the Union Jack. The flag has a blue ground. Of the five stars of the Southern Cross, four have seven points and one has five points.

ANTHEM: God Save the Queen is reserved for regal and state occasions and whenever singing is appropriate; the national tune is Advance Australia Fair.

MONETARY UNIT: The Australian dollar (a$) is a paper currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 and 2 dollars, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. a$1 = us$0.76336 (us$1 = a$1.31) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: Metric weights and measures are used. The Australian proof gallon equals 1.37 US proof gallons.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Australia Day, last Monday in January; Anzac Day, 25 April; Queen's Birthday, second Monday in June; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Numerous state holidays also are observed. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Saturday, and Easter Monday.

TIME: Western Australia, 8 pm = noon GMT; South Australia and Northern Territory, 9:30 pm; Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania, 10 pm. Summer time is 1 hour later in all states except Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.


Lying southeast of Asia, between the Pacific and Indian oceans, Australia, the world's smallest continent, is almost completely surrounded by ocean expanses. Australia is slightly smaller than the United States, with a total area of 7,686,850 sq km (2,967,909 sq mi). The five mainland states are New South Wales, 801,600 sq km (309,500 sq mi); Queensland, 1,727,200 sq km (666,900 sq mi); South Australia, 984,000 sq km (379,900 sq mi); Victoria, 227,600 sq km (87,900 sq mi); and Western Australia, 2,525,500 sq km (975,100 sq mi). The island state of Tasmania has an area of 67,800 sq km (26,200 sq mi); the Northern Territory, 1,346,200 sq km (519,800 sq mi); and the Australian Capital Territory, 2,400 sq km (900 sq mi). The country, including Tasmania, extends about 4,000 km (2,500 mi) ew and 3,180 km (1,980 mi) ns.

Australia is bounded on the n by the Timor and Arafura seas, on the ne by the Coral Sea, on the e by the Pacific Ocean, on the se by the Tasman Sea, and on the s and w by the Indian Ocean, with a total coastline of 25,760 km (16,007 mi). Neighboring areas include Irian Jaya (part of Indonesia) and Papua New Guinea to the north, New Zealand to the southeast, and Indonesia to the northwest.

Australia's capital city, Canberra, is located in the southeastern part of the country.


The continent of Australia is divided into four general topographic regions: (1) a low, sandy eastern coastal plain; (2) the eastern highlands, ranging from 300 to more than 2,100 m (1,0007,000 ft) in altitude and extending from Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland southward to Tasmania; (3) the central plains, consisting largely of a north-south series of drainage basins, including the Great Artesian Basin, which underlies about 1,751,480 sq km (676,250 sq mi) of territory and is the most extensive area of internal drainage in the world; and (4) the western plateau, covered with great deserts and "bigger plains" (regularly spaced sand ridges and rocky wastes), rising 300 to 600 m (1,0002,000 ft) high and constituting most of the western half of the continent.

Australian mountains have eroded over recent geological periods, and only about 6% of the continent is above 600 m (2,000 ft); the average elevation is less than 300 m (1,000 ft). The highest point is Mt. Kosciusko, 2,228 m (7,310 ft), in the Australian Alps of the southeastern corner of New South Wales; the lowest point is Lake Eyre in South Australia, 15 m (49 ft) below sea level. In 1983, grains of rock from Western Australia were dated at 4.14.2 billion years old, making them the oldest ever found on earth.

The most important river system, and the only one with a permanent, year-round flow, is formed by the Murray, Darling, and Murrumbidgee rivers in the southeast. The Murray River, Australia's largest, rises in the Australian Alps of New South Wales and flows some 2,600 km (1,600 mi) west and southwest to empty into the sea below Adelaide, South Australia. Several other rivers are important, but for the most part they carry great amounts of water in the wet season and are dry for the rest of the year. The largest lakes have no outlet and are usually dry. The coastline is smooth, with few bays or capes. The two largest sea inlets are the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, between Arnhem Land and the Cape York Peninsula, and the Great Australian Bight in the south. The Great Barrier Reef, the longest coral reef in the world, extends for about 2,000 km (1,243 mi) off the east coast of Queensland.


Although it has a wide diversity of climatic conditions, Australia is generally warm and dry, with no extreme cold and little frost, its temperatures ranging from comfortably mild in the south to hot in the central interior and north. July mean temperatures average 9°c (48°f) in Melbourne in the southeast and 25°c (77°f) in Darwin in the north. January mean temperatures average 20°c (68°f) in Melbourne and 30°c (86°f) in Darwin. Summer readings often reach 38°c (100°f) or more in almost any area of the continent and may exceed 46°c (115°f) in interior regions. Winds are light to moderate, except along the coasts, where severe cyclones have occurred. On 25 December 1974, a cyclone and flood devastated most of Darwin; at least 49 people were killed, and some 20,000 were left homeless.

The continent is subject to great variations in rainfall, but except for a few areas rainfall is insufficient, and the rate of evaporation is high. Mean annual rainfall is 42 cm (17 in), much less than the world mean of 66 cm (26 in). About 18% of the land area is desert. Only about 20% has more than 76 cm (30 in) of rain annually, but these areas suffer from a long dry season, while others have too much rain. Only Tasmania, Victoria, and parts of New South Wales have enough rainfall all year round. Droughts and floods occur irregularly but frequently over large areas. Drought conditions became very severe in the early 1980s, leading to dust storms, fires, and multibillion-dollar crop losses. Again in 199495, a severe drought devastated eastern agricultural regions.


Many distinctive forms of plant and animal life are found, especially in the coastal and tropical areas. There are some 500 species of eucalyptus and 600 species of acacia (wattle). Other outstanding trees are the baobab, blackwood, red cedar, coachwood, jarrah, Queensland maple, silky oak, and walnut. Native trees shed bark instead of leaves. Numerous types of wild flowers grow in the bush country, including boronia, Christmas bush, desert pea, flanner flower, Geraldton wax plant, kangaroo paw, pomaderris, and waratah. There are 470 varieties of orchids. About 200 kinds of mammals, 200 kinds of lizards, and 350 kinds of birds are indigenous. Apart from marsupials (bandicoots, kangaroos, koalas, possums, Tasmanian devils, tree kangaroos, and wallabies), the most unusual animals are the dingo, echidna, flying fox (fruit bat), platypus, and wombat. Birds include the anhinga, bellbird, bowerbird, cassowary, emu, galah, kookaburra (laughing jackass), lyrebird, fairy penguin, rosella, and many types of cockatoos, parrots, hawks, and eagles.

Many species of trees, plants, and domestic animals have been imported, often thriving at the expense of indigenous types. Herds of wild buffalo, camels, donkeys, horses, and pigs, descendants of stock that strayed from herds imported by pioneers, roam the sparsely settled areas. The proliferation of rabbits resulted in a menace to sheep, and in 1907, a thousand-mile-long fence was built to keep rabbits out of Western Australia. Subsequently, a similar fence was erected in the east to prevent the incursion of dingos.


The principal government institutions responsible for environmental matters are the Department of Home Affairs and Environment, the Australian Environment Council, and the Council of Nature Conservation Ministers. A national conservation strategy, developed by the states, the Northern Territory, and the federal government, in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the World Wildlife Fund, and the UNEP, became national policy in 1980.

The Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act of 1974 establishes procedures for ensuring that environmental impact is considered in governmental decision making. The Whale Protection Act of 1981 prohibits killing, capturing, injuring, or interfering with a whale, dolphin, or porpoise within Australia's 200 mi economic zone or, beyond the zone, by Australian vessels and aircraft and their crews. The Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act of 1978 mandates the development of uniform safety standards for uranium mining and milling and for the transport of radioactive materials. The Protection of the Sea (Discharge of Oil from Ships) Act of 1981 and the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act of 1983 prevent or limit pollution from oil or noxious substances.

Water being a scarce resource in Australia, problems of water quality and availability are a constant concern. As of 2001, the country had only 352 cu km of renewable water resources, although safe drinking water was available to all urban and rural dwellers. A cause for concern has been the increased salinity in the Murray Valley, caused by diverting water inland from the coast for irrigation, as well as the rise in saline water tables in Western Australia, due to excessive land clearing for dry-land farming. Another significant environmental problem is inland damage due to soil erosion. The quality of the soil is also affected by salinization. In the mid-1990s Australia was among the top 20 world producers of carbon dioxide emissions from industry, which totaled 267.9 million tons per year, or 15.24 tons per capita. In 2000, the country produced 344.8, million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

As of 2000, about 20% of the total land area of Australia was forested. The country has the third most extensive mangrove area in the world, covering over one million ha. In 2003, about 13% of the total land area was protected, including 11 natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 64 Ramsar wetland sites.

In 2002, there were about 252 species of mammals, 497 species of birds, and over 15,500 species of higher plants. According to the 2004 IUCN Red List Report, the number of threatened species included 63 types of mammals, 60 species of birds, 38 types of reptiles, 47 species of amphibian, 74 species of fish, 176 types of mollusks, 107 other invertebrates, and 56 species of plants. Endangered species include the banded anteater, greater rabbit-eared bandicoot, Leadbeater's opossum, northern hairy-nosed wombat, woylie, bridled nail-tail wallaby, five species of turtle (western swamp, green sea, hawksbill, leatherback, and olive ridley), Tasmanian freshwater limpet, granulated Tasmanian snail, African wild ass, western ground parrot, paradise parakeet, helmeted honey eater, noisy scrub-bird, western rufous bristlebird, Lord Howe wood rail, Lord Howe currawong, small hemiphlebia damselfly, Otway stonefly, giant torrent midge, and Tasmanian torrent midge. Lord Howe stick insect, Gray's marble toadlet, the dusky flying fox, the Tasmanian wolf, and the banded hare wallaby are among the country's 42 extinct species.


The population of Australia in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 20,351,000, which placed it at number 52 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 13% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 20% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 98 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 0.6%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 24,233,000. The population density was 3 per sq km (7 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 91% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.11%. The capital city, Canberra, had a population of 373,000 in that year.

The 2005 population totals of the six state capitals were estimated as follows: Sydney, New South Wales, 4,388,000; Melbourne, Victoria, 3,663,000; Brisbane, Queensland, 1,769,000; Perth, Western Australia, 1,484,000; Adelaide, South Australia, 1,137,000; and Hobart, Tasmania, 202,138. Four other large cities are Newcastle, New South Wales, 494,400; Gold Coast, Queensland, 469,214; Wollongong, New South Wales, 274,072; and Geelong, Victoria, 190,000.

One-third of Australia is virtually uninhabited; another third is sparsely populated. The total population is quite small compared to the large land mass. Most of the cities are located in the east and southeast, with many inhabitants living on the coast.


After World War II, the government promoted immigration of the maximum number of persons Australia could absorb without economic disequilibrium. In 1979, however, with the unemployment rate rising, the government tightened immigration requirements so that Australians would not lose jobs to the newcomers. Under the new system, assessments of applications are based on such factors as age, skills, and family ties, with priority given to reunion of families sponsored by Australian residents. In 2001, the Migration Program allowed 80,610 entry visas, most granted under the family and skill based categories.

Most of the 4.2 million immigrants to Australia between 1945 and 1985 were from the United Kingdom, Italy, and Greece. The government encouraged immigrants of working age to settle in rural areas, but many immigrants preferred to work in the cities. The record high for new settlers was 185,099, in 196970. The number of permanent settlers arriving in 1991 was 116,650, up from a postwar low of 52,748 in 197576. From World War II to 1991, over 460,000 refugees settled in Australia. These included more than 130,000 Indochinese. In 20032004 citizenship was granted to 788 onshore applications, the largest numbers granted to Iranians, Chinese, and Iranians, respectively. In 2003, the foreign labor force was 24.9% of the total labor force

As of the end of 2004, Australia had 63,476 refugees and 5,022 asylum-seekers, primarily from Afghanistan, Iraq, China, and Serbia and Montenegro. The majority of illegal immigrants are those who entered the country legally but remained beyond the expiration of their visas. From mid-year 2003 to mid-year 2004 there were 50,900 overstayers. The government is undertaking more stringent measures to identify and remove illegal aliens. Australia has also set up programs to assist the integration of migrants and refugees by providing services and education.

As of 2005 the estimated net migration rate was 3.91 per thousand. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


Most Australians are of British or Irish ancestry. In 2005, approximately 92% of the population was Caucasian. The Asian-born population tally stood at 7% while aboriginal and other groups comprised only 1% of the population.

After the coming of the Europeans, the aboriginal population declined drastically, from about 300,0001,000,000 to some 60,000 by the early 1920s. By the 1950s, however, the decline was reversed. In the 1991 census 265,492 people identified themselves as being of aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, or 1.5% of the population. (Of these, the latter numbered 26,902.) Many of them live in tribal conditions on government reservations in the north and northwest; some 39,918 were in the Northern Territory in the 1991 census and 41,792 in Western Australia. Queensland had 70,130, and New South Wales, 70,020. Their social organization is among the most complex known to anthropologists. They do not cultivate the soil but are nomadic hunters and food gatherers, without settled communities. Anthropologists believe the aboriginals, also known as Australoids, are relatively homogeneous, although they display a wide range of physical types. Their serological, or blood-group, pattern is unique, except for a faint affinity with the Paniyan of southern India and the Veddas of Sri Lanka. The aboriginals probably originated from a small isolated group subject to chance mutation but not to hybridization. There seems to be a sprinkling of Australoid groups in India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Timor, and New Guinea. In 1963, aboriginals were given full citizenship rights, although as a group they continued to suffer from discrimination and a lower living standard than European Australians generally.

Beginning in the 1960s, the government abandoned its previous policy of "assimilation" of the aboriginals, recognizing the uniqueness of aboriginal culture and the right of the aboriginals to determine their own patterns of development. From the passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act in 1976 to mid-1990, aboriginals in the Northern Territory were given ownership of about 34% of territorial lands (461,486 sq km or 178,180 sq mi). The South Australia state government and its aboriginals also signed a land-rights agreement, and similar legislation was developed in other states during the 1980s. In all, aboriginals held 647,772 sq km (250,104 sq mi) of land under freehold in mid-1989 and another 181,800 sq km (70,193 sq mi) under leasehold. A reservation in Western Australia consisted of 202,223 sq km (78,078 sq mi). By the mid-1990s, however, more than two-thirds of the aboriginals had left rural lands to settle in urban areas.


According to a 2001 census, about 79% of the population speaks English. Chinese is spoken by about 2% of the population and Italian is spoken by another 2%. About 11% listed other languages and nearly 6% of respondents were unspecified.

Many languages or dialects are spoken by the aboriginal tribes, but phonetically they are markedly uniform. There is no written aboriginal language, but the markings on "letter sticks," sometimes carried by messengers from one tribe to another, are readily understood by tribal headmen. Aboriginal languages are in use in certain schools in the Northern Territories and, to a lesser extent, in schools of other states.


According to the 2001 census, 67% of citizens were nominally Christians, including 26% Roman Catholic and 20% Anglican. About 15% of Australians consider themselves to have no religion, an increase of over 35% from 1991. About 2% of the population were Buddhist, 1.5% Muslim, and less than 1% were Hindu and Jewish. A 1996 census indicated that almost 72% of Aborigines practiced some form of Christianity with indigenous beliefs. The 2001 census did not provide comparable updated information.

Constitutionally, there can be no state religion or state aid to any religion; the exercise of any religion cannot be prohibited, and a religious test as qualification for public office is forbidden. However, in a 1998 report on freedom of religion in Australia by the federally funded but independent Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), the Commission reported that many Australians have complained that the dominance of Christianity has marginalized large numbers of citizens in public life. Since then the HREOC and a Parliamentary Committee have been working on antidiscrimination measures and legislation. Though the HREOC recommended that the government enact a specific federal religious freedom act, the government refused to do so in 2002.

Organizations promoting tolerance and mutual understanding between faiths include the Columbian Center for Christian-Muslim Relations, the National Council of Churches in Australia, and the Australian Council of Christians and Jews.


As of 2004, Australia's total railway trackage (both government and private) totaled 54,439 km (33,861 mi) of which 33,819 km (21,015 mi) was government owned as of 2002. Private railways are primarily used by the iron ore industry in Western Australia. Australia's railway systems do not interconnect well because the system is made up of three track gauges: standard (1.435-m); broad (1.600-m); and narrow(1.067-m). Of the three, the majority is standard gauge with 34,110 km (21,216 mi) of track, followed by narrow gauge track at 14,895 km (9,265 mi), and by broad gauge at 5,434 km (3,380 mi). As a result, rail travel between principal cities can involve changing trains. Modern equipment is gradually replacing older stock. As of August 1991, all interstate freight movements by rail were brought under the control of the National Rail Corporation (NRC).

Inland water transport is limited to about 2,000 km (1,241 mi) of navigable waterways, mainly on the Murray and Murray-Darling river systems, and is mostly used for recreational purposes. However, ocean shipping is important for domestic and overseas transport. Most overseas trade is carried in non-Australian ships, while most coastwise vessels are of Australian registry. Although the fine natural harbors of Sydney and Hobart can readily accommodate ships of 11 m (36 ft) draft, many other harbors have been artificially developed. Other international shipping ports include Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Devonport, Fremantle, Geelong, Launceston, Mackay, Melbourne, and Townsville. All main ports have ample wharfage, modern cargo-handling equipment, and storage facilities. There are some 70 commercially significant ports. The nation's merchant marine in 2005 included 55 vessels of 1,000 GRT or over, with a combined GRT of 1,531,461. Highways provide access to many districts not served by railroads. As of 2002, there were 811,601 km (504,816 mi) of roads, of which some 316,524 km (196,877 mi) were paved. Motor vehicles in 2003 totaled about 12,305,000, including 10,100,000 passenger cars and 2,205,000 commercial vehicles.

In 2004, Australia had an estimated 448 airports. As of 2005, a total of 308 had paved runways, and there was also a single heliport. Principal airports include Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne International at Melbourne, Perth International at Perth, and Kingsford International at Sydney. In 1997, the government began privatizing many of the country's airports. The first round of such sales early in 1997 included the Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth airports, which raised a$3.34 billion (us$2.5 billion)far exceeding government projections. The main Sydney airport was explicitly excluded from the privatization plan. Domestic air services are operated primarily by the privately owned Ansett Airlines. The Australian overseas airline, Qantas, carries more than three million passengers per year to and from Australia, nearly 40% of the total carried by all airlines serving Australia. The Commonwealth government owned the airline until it was privatized in 1995. In 2003 Australian air carriers had 41.386 million passengers and carried 1.355 million freight ton km.


Stone objects that were found in 1978 but are still only tentatively dated suggest that human beings may have inhabited what is now Australia as long as 100,000 years ago. The Aboriginals migrated to Australia from Southeast Asia at least 40,000 years before the first Europeans arrived on the island continent. In 1999, scientists estimated a male skeleton found at Mungo Lake in 1974 to be between 56,000 and 68,000 years old. Covered in red ochre, this skeleton presents the first known use of pigments for religious or artistic purposes. Living as hunters and gatherers, roaming in separate family groups or bands, the Aboriginals developed a rich, complex culture, with many languages. They numbered approximately 300,000 by the 18th century; however, with the onset of European settlement, conflict and disease reduced their numbers.

Although maps of the 16th century indicate European awareness of the location of Australia, the first recorded explorations of the continent by Europeans took place early in the 17th century, when Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish explorers sailed along the coast and discovered what is now Tasmania. None took formal possession of the land, and not until 1770, when Capt. James Cook charted the east coast and claimed possession in the name of Great Britain, was any major exploration undertaken. Up to the early 19th century, the area was known as New Holland, New South Wales, or Botany Bay.

The first settlementa British penal colony at Port Jackson (now Sydney) in 1788was soon enlarged by additional shipments of prisoners, which continued through the mid-1800s, until approximately 161,000 convicts had been transported. With the increase of free settlers, the country developed, the interior was penetrated, and six colonies were created: New South Wales in 1786, Van Diemen's Land in 1825 (renamed Tasmania in 1856), Western Australia in 1829, South Australia in 1834, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859.

Sheep raising and wheat growing were introduced and soon became the backbone of the economy. The wool industry made rapid progress during the period of squatting migration, which began on a large scale about 1820. The grazers followed in the wake of explorers, reaching new pastures, or "runs," where they squatted and built their homes. Exports of wool increased from 111 kg (245 lb) in 1807 to 1.1 million kg (2.4 million lb) in 1831. With the increased flow of immigrants following the Ripon Land Regulations of 1831, the population grew from about 34,000 in 1820 to some 405,000 in 1850. The discovery of gold in Victoria (1851) attracted thousands, and in a few years the population had quadrupled. Under the stimulus of gold production, the first railway lineMelbourne to Port Melbournewas completed in 1854. Representative government spread throughout the continent, and the colonies acquired their own parliaments.

Until the end of the 19th century, Australia's six self-governing colonies remained separate. However, the obvious advantages of common defense and irrigation led to the federation of the states into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. (The British Parliament had approved a constitution in the previous year.) The Northern Territory, which belonged to South Australia, became a separate part of the Commonwealth in 1911. In the same year, territory was acquired from New South Wales for a new capital at Canberra, and in 1927, the Australian Parliament began meeting there. Liberal legislation provided for free and compulsory education, industrial conciliation and arbitration, the secret ballot, female suffrage, old age pensions, invalid pensions, and maternity allowances (all before World War I). Child subsidies and unemployment and disability benefits were introduced during World War II.

Australian forces fought along with the British in Europe during World War I. In World War II, the Australian forces supported the UK in the Middle East between 1940 and 1942, and played a major role in the Pacific theater after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war, a period of intense immigration began. The Labour government was voted out of office in 1949, beginning 23 years of continuous rule by a Liberal-Country Party (now known as the National Party) coalition. During that period, Australian foreign policy stressed collective security and support for the US presence in Asia. Australian troops served in Vietnam between 1965 and 1971.

When Labour returned to power in December 1972, it began the process of disassociating Australia from US and UK policies and strengthening ties with non-Communist Asian nations; in addition, it established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. In 1975 a constitutional crisis resulted when Senate opposition successfully blocked the Labour Party's budgetary measures, thereby threatening the government with bankruptcy. The governor-general dismissed the Labour prime minister, Gough Whitlam, and called for new elections. The Liberal-National Party coalition swept back into power, where it remained until 1983. The Australian Labour Party (ALP) returned to power in 1983, following a campaign in which such economic issues as unemployment and inflation predominated.

In 1993, the Mabo Ruling on Native Title recognized the land rights of the indigenous people (Aborigines) inhabiting Australia prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The Mabo Ruling did not void existing leases, but could allow the Aborigines to reclaim land when the leases granted by the national or state governments expired. The Mabo Ruling applied only to non-pastoral leases, but the Wik Judgment of 1996 extended the land rights of indigenous people to include their use of pastoral land for religious purposes.

In the March 1996 elections, the ALP was unseated by a coalition of the Liberal Party and the National Party, who chose Liberal MP John Howard to be prime minister. The newcomer Howard pledged to change the government, to make it more "rational." To that end, he cut ministries and cabinet posts, made budget cuts affecting higher education, Aborigine affairs, and jobs, and instituted an a$15 billion privatization program. Many government employees opposed these changes; violent demonstrations took place when the budget was made public. While the revised budget was less radical, social unrest continued through 19971998, and the October 1998 election found Howard's coalition party's majority greatly reduced, while the ALP gained in influence, winning 18 more seats than it did in the 1996 election.

In July 1998, after twice being rejected by the Senate, the government passed amendments to the 1993 Native Title Act. The amendments removed the time limit for lodging native claims, but weakened the right of Aboriginal groups to negotiate with non-Aboriginal leaseholders concerning land use. In 1999 the government issued an official expression of regret for past mistreatment of Aborigines, but has opposed issuing the formal national apology sought by Aborigine leaders, fearing that would encourage claims for compensation.

In September 1999, Australian troops led the United Nations-sanctioned peacekeeping forces into East Timor, to protect civilians and control the militia violence following East Timor's referendum decision to seek full independence from Indonesia. Australian civilian and military personnel form part of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), which was established to ensure the security and stability of East Timor after it became an independent nation-state on 20 May 2002. After 2002, unresolved maritime boundary disputes between Australia and East Timor, over unexploited petroleum resources in the Timor Sea, hampered revised maritime boundary disputes with Indonesia. Regional concerns were incorporated into these disputes when Australia declared a 1,000-nautical mile-wide maritime identification zone, and asserted land and maritime claims to Antarctica in 2004.

Parliamentary elections held on 10 November 2001 saw Howard's coalition increase its strength by over 3%. The ALP recorded its lowest primary vote since 1934. The Australian Greens recorded a substantial increase in strength. Two events stood out in the election campaign that swung the vote to the Liberal Party-National Party coalition. The first was the controversy over refugees and asylum-seekers. In August 2001, a Norwegian freighter that had rescued a boatload of asylum-seekers was denied permission to land the human cargo in Australia. The Howard government also tightened its border protection laws since then, making it nearly impossible for any asylum-seeker landing in the remote island outposts of Australia to claim refugee status. Instead, the would-be refugees are either turned back to Indonesian waters or transported to detention centers on Pacific nations such as Nauru or Papua New Guinea. John Howard declared, "We will decide who comes to this country and under what circumstances." The ALP criticized the government for this policy, which remained a major campaign issue. The terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, and the subsequent US-led bombing campaign on the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, also were issues that dominated the Australian election campaign.

Asylum and detention issues continued to make headlines, as in December 2002 a Sydney center had an attempted mass breakout and riot, another had an armed standoff, and fires burned at two other centers. In November 2003, an Indonesian fishing boat, the Minasa Bone, with 14 Kurds aboard sought asylum on Melville Island, but was forced to return to Indonesia. However, between July and October 2003, in "Operation Helpem Fren" an Australian-led peacekeeping force headed on a mission to restore law and order in the Solomon Island.

In August 2002, Australia instituted a regional alliance with Malaysia to work together to fight suspected Islamic militants. On 12 October 2002, two popular nightclubs in Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali were bombed, killing 202 people, 88 of them Australians. The bombings have been linked to the terrorist organization Jamaah Islamiah. They have been referred to as "Australia's September 11th." Australia added four more Islamic groups to its list of banned "terrorist" organizations, groups that would be targeted by police and security forces. In November 2002, in this same climate of terror some 1,000 Australian protesters demonstrated against globalization and a possible war with Iraq. By January 2003, Australia deployed troops to the Gulf ahead of a possible war. Public protest was immediate and in the first-ever vote of no-confidence against a serving leader, the Senate passed the motion against Prime Minister John Howard over his handling of Iraq crisis. In early 2003, possible involvement in the war with Iraq spawned massive protests. Some were unprecedented, like the protest of 750 women in Byron Bay who formed a heart around the words "No War." A senior intelligence analyst resigned in protest over the government's uncompromising policy on Iraq. Although claiming respect for the views of the protesters, Howard said his government would commit 2,000 military personnel to any US-led strike aimed at disarming Iraq. In October 2003, US president George W. Bush was heckled at his appearance in Australia's Parliament. Anti-Iraq war protests continued in 2004. However, in an online message in July 2004, a group representing itself as al-Qaeda's European branch threatened to turn Australia into "pools of blood" if troops were not withdrawn from Iraq. In September 2004, a car bomb exploded outside the gates of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 8 people and wounding more than 160. Australia continued to bolster its security with a US cruise missile program that provided the "most lethal" air combat capacity in the region.

In October 2004, Prime Minister John Howard achieved a strong victory in Australia's federal election, winning a historic fourth term. Results of the Senate elections of 9 October 2004 were: Liberal Party-National Party coalition, 39; Australian Labor Party, 28; Democrats, 4; Australian Greens, 4; and Family First Party, 1. The next Senate elections were scheduled for no later than June 2008. Results of the House of Representatives election held 9 October 2004 were: Liberal Party-National Party coalition, 87; Australian Labor Party, 60; and independents, 3. The next House of Representatives election was scheduled for no later than November 2007.

In January 2005, Australia's free-trade agreement with the United States that had been in the making for over a year became effective. In February 2005, Howard continued the government's support of the war in Iraq promising 450 extra troops to help reinforce Iraq's transition to democracy. By July 2005, 150 special forces troops were sent back into Afghanistan to resist rebel attacks. In 2005 Australia further bolstered regional security with a NATO agreement to cooperate in the fight against international terrorism, weapons proliferation and other global military threats, and with a security pact with Indonesia.

In the mid-2000s various natural disasters struck Australia. In 2003, after a 10-year drought in New South Wales, the lower reaches of the Great Anabranch of the Darling River ran dry. Between 2002 and 2005, brush fires devastated acreage, destroyed more than 380 homes, and killed 13 people. In 2004, locusts devastated crops as they swarmed through the Outback. In 2004, an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of the island state of Tasmania. This, the world's biggest earthquake in almost four years, caused no injury or damage. In 2005, tropical cyclone Ingrid ruined a tourist resort built to show off the beauty of northern Australia. Also between 2002 and 2005, massive accidental and purposeful animal kills occurred. About 60 beached, false killer whales died or were euthanized. The Australian military killed nearly 15,000 kangaroos to prevent overgrazing of an army base. To reduce their numbers, thousands of wild camels in the Outback were shot from helicopters. In 2002, Matilda, Australia's first cloned sheep died unexpectedly of unknown causes.

In 2004, Australia's Great Barrier Reef became the most protected reef on earth when Parliament passed a law putting a new zoning plan, banning commercial and recreational fishing, into effect. Increasing protection of the reef system, from 4.6 % to 33 % of the existing Marine Park and World Heritage area, adding more than 109,000 sq km (42,000 sq mi) to the current setting, the park became the world's largest marine protected area.

Australian authorities seized several major drug shipments. In 2003, an Australian navy vessel captured a us$48 million heroin shipment transported on a North Korean ship. In 2005, authorities made a world-record haul of the party drug, ecstasy, with the seizure of 5 million tablets worth us$14 million. In that same year a shipment of heroin packed in containers of plastic chairs from China was seized worth us$46 million and weighing 253 pounds.

In 200304 gay and lesbian issues were politicized. In May 2003, the resignation of Governor-General Peter Hollingworth followed his revelation that, as an Anglican archbishop in the 1990s, he permitted a known pedophile to remain a priest. In July of that same year, a congregation protested an Australian Christian church vote to allow homosexuals to become priests. In May 2004, the government introduced legislation to prohibit same-sex marriages and sought immigration rules to prevent gays and lesbians from adopting foreign children. The government also announced that same-sex partners would be recognized for the first time by federal authorities as dependents.


The Commonwealth of Australia, an independent, self-governing nation within the Commonwealth of Nations, has a federal parliamentary government. The federation was formed on 1 January 1901 from six former British colonies, which thereupon became states. The constitution combines the traditions of British parliamentary practice with important elements of the US federal system. Powers of the federal government are enumerated and limited.

The government consists of the British sovereign, represented by a governor-general, and the Australian Parliament. Major General (Retired) Michael Jeffery became the new governor-general in August 2003, succeeding The Reverend Dr. Peter John Hollingsworth, who had held the post since 2001. Nominally, executive power is vested in the governor-general and an executive council, which gives legal form to cabinet decisions; in practice, however, it is normally exercised by a cabinet chosen and presided over by a prime minister, representing the political party or coalition with a majority in the House of Representatives. The number of cabinet ministers is variable.

Legislative power is vested in the Parliament, which is composed of a 76-member Senate, representing the states and territories, and a 150-member House of Representatives, representing electoral districts. Members must be Australian citizens of full age, possess electoral qualification, and have resided for three years in Australia. Twelve senators are elected by proportional representation from each state voting as a single electorate, and two senators each from the Northern Territory and Capital Territory. They are elected for six years, with half the members retiring at the end of every third year. House membership is not quite double that of the Senate, with a minimum of five representatives for each state. House members are elected according to population by preferential voting in specific electoral districts; they serve for three years, unless the House is dissolved sooner. There are two members each from the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory; they have been able to vote on all questions since 1968. Parliament must meet at least once a year. Taxation and appropriation measures must be introduced in the lower house; the Senate has the power to propose amendments, except to money bills, and to defeat any measure it may choose.

The parties in the House elect their leaders in caucus. The party or coalition with a majority of seats forms the government. The leader of the majority party becomes prime minister and selects his cabinet from members of his party who are members of Parliament, while the leader of the principal minority party becomes leader of the official opposition. The party in power holds office as long as it retains its majority or until the governor-general decides that new elections are necessary; he exercised this inherent constitutional power during the 1975 crisis when he dismissed Prime Minister Whitlam and called for new elections.

In the 1990s, the Labour Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Paul Keating, proposed a referendum to change Australia to a republican form of government. The idea gained wide support. After the 1996 federal elections, the coalition majority decided to host a constitutional convention to decide the issue. The constitutional convention met in February 1998, and voted in favor of replacing the British monarch as the head of Australia's government (73 voted in favor, 57 against), and Australia becoming a republic by the year 2001 (89 voted in favor, 52 against). But in November 1999's popular referendum, the proposal to convert Australia to a republic failed to carry even a single state.

Suffrage is universal for all persons 18 years of age and older, subject to citizenship and certain residence requirements. Voting is compulsory in national and state parliamentary elections.


Since most Australians have been shaped by the same language and by a similar cultural and religious heritage, their internal differences are largely based on economic issues. Attachments to the United Kingdom are compounded of sentiment, tradition, and economic advantage. Australian nationalism has been associated more closely with the Australian Labour Party (ALP) than with its rivals, who tend to regard Australian interests as almost identical with those of the United Kingdom. Because of Australia's geographical position as a "European people on an Asian limb," the economic element in its nationalism has been mixed with the fear of external conquest or domination.

Except in 192931, when a Labour government was in office, interwar governments were dominated by non-Labour groupings. When war seemed certain in 1939, the government was resolutely imperial, considering Australia to be at war automatically when the UK went to war. The Laborites challenged this view. While they did not oppose a declaration of war on Germany, they wanted the step to be taken so as to show Australia's independence.

Labour was in office from 1941 to 1949. The Liberal and Country Parties were in office as a coalition for a long period afterward, from 1949 to 1972, and again beginning in December 1975 (by that time, the Country Party had become the National Country Party, and it later became the National Party).

In the general elections of 13 December 1975, a caretaker government, formed the preceding month by the Liberal-National Country Party coalition after the dismissal of the Labour government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, obtained large majorities in both houses of the legislature. Although its majorities were eroded in the elections of December 1977 and October 1980, the coalition remained in power until March 1983, when Labour won 75 out of 147 seats in the House of Representatives. Robert Hawke, leader of the Labour Party, took office as prime minister; he was reelected in 1984, 1987, and 1990. Paul Keating replaced Hawke as Labour's leader, and as prime minister, in December 1991. This was the first time an Australian prime minister had been ousted by his own party. Keating led the ALP to an unprecedented fifth consecutive election victory in the 1993 general election, increasing both its percentage share of the vote and its number of seats in the legislature. In 1996, a Liberal-National Party coalition headed by John Howard ousted the ALP from the majority, with the Liberal-National coalition winning 94 seats compared to the ALP's 49 seats. John Howard was reelected prime minister in 1998, 2001, and 2004.

A direct descendant of the governments of the 1920s and 1930s, the Liberal-National coalition is principally linked with business (Liberal) and farming (National) and is officially anti-socialist. In economic and foreign affairs, its outlook is still involved with the Commonwealth of Nations, but it supports the United Nations, as well as the alliance with the United States in the ANZUS pact. It is sympathetic toward the new Asian countries and values the link with these countries afforded by the Colombo Plan. The Labour Party is a trade-union party, officially socialist in policy and outlook. It initially maintained an isolationist posture, but since the early 1940s, its policy has been a mixture of nationalism and internationalism.

Smaller parties include the Democratic Labour Party, the Communist Party, the Australian Democrats Party, the Green Party, and the One Nation Party. Since its formation in 1997, the One Nation Party's platform has featured racial issues. In the 1998 Queensland state elections, it won 11 of 89 seats. In the federal elections of that same year, the One Nation Party called for an end to Asian immigration and a restriction to Aboriginal welfare programs, but failed to win any seats. The Green Party increased its strength by 2.3% in the 2001 elections, while the One Nation Party lost 4.1% of its strength.


Powers not specifically granted to the federal government in the constitution are reserved to the states, although some powers (such as health, labor, and social services) are held concurrently. Each state has an appointed governor who serves as the representative of the sovereign. Except for Queensland, which has a unicameral legislature, the parliament in each state is composed of two houses. The lower housesthe dominant legislative bodiesare popularly elected; the upper houses are elected by franchise limited to property holders and to those with certain academic or professional qualifications. The state prime minister achieves office and selects his cabinet in the same fashion as does the Commonwealth prime minister. The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have unicameral legislative assemblies.

Local communities (variously designated as boroughs, cities, district councils, municipalities, road districts, shires, and towns) have limited powers of government, but they are responsible for some health, sanitation, light, gas, and highway undertakings. Even the largest cities do not provide their own police protection, nor do they conduct or support education; these are state functions. Local aldermen or councilors ordinarily are elected on a property franchise, and mayors are elected annually or biennially by the aldermen from among their own number or by taxpayers. State departments of local government regulate the organization of local government. State governments directly control some large interior areas.


The constitution vests federal jurisdiction in a High Court of Australia which consists of a chief justice and six associate justices appointed by the governor general. The High Court has the authority to conduct constitutional review of state and federal legislation and is the supreme authority on constitutional interpretation. The High Court also has original jurisdiction over interstate and international matters.

Until 1985, in certain cases involving state law, appeals from courts below the High Court could be taken to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, the final court of the Commonwealth of Nations. Special cases may be referred to a 25-member federal court that deals with commercial law, copyright law, taxation, and trade practices. There is also a family court.

States and territories have their own court systems. Cases in the first instance are tried in local or circuit courts of general and petty sessions, magistrates' courts, children's courts, or higher state courts. Capital crimes are tried before state supreme courts.

The state and federal courts are fully independent. The High Court ruled that indigent defendants have a right to counsel at state expense. Criminal defendants are presumed innocent, and a plethora of due process rights include the right to confront witnesses and the right to appeal. In 2002 the High Court ruled on various Aboriginal cases. Aborigines were denied rights to oil or minerals found under tribal land now being used by mining companies. Two long running land claim cases were settled: in the northwest a remote area slightly larger than Greece was granted to an Aboriginal tribe; however, a claim in eastern Australia in the Murray River area, land now occupied by farmers, was denied.

The law provides for the right to a fair trial. In local courts, the magistrates sit alone. In the higher courts, trials are usually conducted by judge and jury. The law prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence.


The Australian armed forces numbered 52,872 active personnel in 2005. The Army consisted of 26,035 active members, whose weaponry included 101 main battle tanks (30 are in storage), 619 armored personnel carriers, 566 artillery pieces, and 22 attack helicopters. The Navy had 13,167 active personnel, including 990 naval aviation personnel. Major naval units included six tactical submarines, 10 frigates, 15 patrol/coastal vessels, two amphibious land ships (with a helicopter landing platform), and 27 amphibious landing craft of various types. The Navy's aviation arm operated 23 anti-submarine warfare helicopters. The Air Force in 2005 had 13,670 active personnel. The service operated 140 combat capable aircraft, that included 22 bombers and 104 fighter ground attack aircraft. Reserve forces numbered 20,800 for all three services. Australia contributed to peacekeeping missions in East Timor, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Egypt, and the Middle East.

Australia's defense budget in 2005 was us$13.2 billion.


Australia is a charter member of the United Nations, to which it gained admission on 1 November 1945. It belongs to ESCAP and all the nonregional UN specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IFC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO, and the World Bank. Australia became a member of the WTO on 1 January 1995. The country participates in the Commonwealth of Nations and ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States Treaty).Other regional memberships include the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, Colombo Plan, OECD, South Pacific Commission, the Pacific Community, the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, the Pacific Island Forum, and the Paris Club (G-10). Australia also has a position on the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The country belongs to the Australia Group, the Nuclear Energy Agency (of the OECD), the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Zangger Committee, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Australia sent troops as part of the coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War (1991), in Afghanistan (2002), and in Iraq (2003). The country has also supported UN efforts in Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000) and East Timor (est. 2002).

In environmental cooperation, Australia is part of the Antarctic Treaty; the Basel Convention; conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Marine Life Conservation; Ramsar; CITES; the London Convention; the International Tropical Timber Agreement; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; and UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy with a high per capita gross domestic product (GDP), on par with the four dominant Western European nations of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Economic activity is focused on the country's eastern seaboard, where most of the population lives. New South Wales generates about 35% of Australia's GDP, while Victoria generates 26% and Queensland 17%. There is a clear divide in economic performance between the states: typically, growth in South Australia and Tasmania is considerably below the overall national rate, and Western Australia is heavily dependent upon the volatile mining industry.

Since the late 1980s, the government has been engaged in a program to transform the economy's orientation from import substitution industrialization (ISI) to export-driven, high-tech globalization. This helped introduce an economic expansion from 1991 that as of 2005 had continued uninterruptedthe longest economic expansion in Australia since 1945despite slowdowns occasioned by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 200102 global economic downturn, and one of Australia's worst-ever droughts in 2003. Strong consumption growth provided the momentum for Australia to withstand the Asian financial crisis, as the buoyant domestic economy offset the deterioration in regional demand for Australian exports. Together with a large increase in spending on private housing, consumption growth also served to cushion the economy against the effects of the 200102 economic downturn and the 2003 drought.

As in most developed countries, the service sector accounts for the largest portion of GDP, at nearly 70% in 2004. The largest service industry is finance, property, and business services. Other major service industries include retail and wholesale trade, transportation and communications, and construction. The most rapidly growing service industry from 200005 was communications (with an average annual growth rate of 6.4%), while the construction sector showed great volatility. The largest segment of the manufacturing sector is production of machinery and equipment. Mining and agriculture account for most exports.

Australia's flexible exchange rate regime has helped the economy rapidly adjust to the vicissitudes of international commodity markets. It is the world's largest wool-producing country. The country is one of the great wheat exporters, and also exports large quantities of dairy and meat products. In minerals, Australia is a major world supplier of iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, and copper; coal, beach sand minerals, and nickel have become major industries as well. Since the 1960s manufactured goods have provided an ever-increasing share of the country's exports, with elaborately transformed manufactures (ETMs), like automobiles, high-speed ferries, and telecommunications equipment, making up a significant percentage of exports (approximately 20%).

Australia's last economic recession was in 1990, from which it began to recover in mid-1991. Economic growth, supported by rising consumption and higher export demand, reached 4% in the fourth quarter of 1993. However, the unemployment rate of about 11% was near a postwar record. From this high point, unemployment has been on a steady decline in Australiato 8.5% unemployment in 1995, 7.5% in 1999, and 6.3% in 2000, albeit with an increase in 2001 to 6.7%. The unemployment rate fell, from 6.3% in 2002 and 5.9% in 2003, to an estimated 5.1% in 2004. Real GDP growth fell to 3.7% in 1997, but recovered in 1998 and 1999 to an average of 5%, helped by reforms that included currency depreciation and a redirection of exports to non-Asian countries. Real GDP growth fell to 3.1% in 2000 and 2.6% in 2001. It climbed to 3.6% in 2002, before falling to 2.7% in 2003. GDP was expected to increase by a healthy 3.8% in 2005 and by 3.6% in 2006. The inflation estimate for 2005 was 2.8%up from 2.3% in 2004which reflected the increased price of petroleum that year. Inflation was forecast to average 2.7% in 2006 and 2.6% in 2007.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at us$642.7 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at us$32,000. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 4% of GDP, industry 26.4%, and services 69.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled us$2.259 billion or about us$114 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.4% of GDP.

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Australia totaled us$245.91 billion or about us$12,357 per capita based on a GDP of us$522.4 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.6%.


As of 2005, the Australian workforce numbered an estimated 10.42 million people. In 2004, the occupational pattern was estimated as follows: services 70%, industry 26.4%, and agriculture 3.7%. The unemployment rate stood at an estimated 5.2% in 2005.

As in many other highly developed industrial nations, union membership has declined significantly: from around 53% of the workforce in 1980 to 22.7% as of 2005. The drop has resulted in a consolidation of labor unions: there were 300 unions in 1989, but only 188 in 1993. The traditionally de facto right to strike was legalized in 1994. The Federal Workplace Relations Act (WRA) puts limits on strikes and unfair dismissal.

Although there is a standard minimum wage (us$362.35 per week as of 2005), 80% of workers have their pay determined by minimums that apply to their particular industry or profession. All of these wages are sufficient to support a family. The standard workweek is under 40 hours, generally from Monday through Friday. Nearly all Australian workers receive four weeks of annual vacation, many at rates of pay 17.5% above regular pay. There is no nationally mandated minimum age for employment, but state-imposed compulsory education effectively precludes children under 16 years old from full-time work.


Australia is an important producer and exporter of agricultural products and a major world supplier of cereals, sugar, and fruit. Arable land in 2002 comprised about 48.6 million ha (120 million acres), representing about 6.3% of total land area. However, approximately 90% of the utilized land area is in its natural state or capable of only limited improvement and is used largely for rough grazing. Droughts, fires, and floods are common hazards. The area actively cultivated for crops is 6.9% of all land area. Lack of water is the principal limiting factor, but unsuitable soil and topography are also important determinants. As of 2002, some 4.9% of cropland was irrigated. Agriculture has declined from 20% of GDP in the 1950s to about 4% in 2002. Agricultural exports, which accounted for 60% of Australia's exports in the 1960s, now account for 25%. Gross farm product in 2003 was a$32.9 billion. New South Wales and Queensland account for half of the total crop value.

Grain crops have been cultivated since the first year of European settlement. In November 1790, plantings around Sydney of wheat, barley, and corn totaled 34 ha (84 acres). Today, winter cereals are cultivated in all states. Three cereals are often grown on one farm for grain, green fodder, and hay for livestock. Most wheat, barley and about half the oats are grown for grain. The estimated wheat area sown for grain increased from 11,135,000 ha (27,515,000 acres) in 1986/87 to 13,800,000 ha (34,000,000 acres) in 2004/05. Production of wheat in 2004/05 was an estimated 22.6 million tons. Western Australia and New South Wales are the chief wheat-producing states. In 2004/05, Australia produced 7.7 million tons of barley, 1.3 million tons of oats, and 2.2 million tons of sorghum. In 2003, 1.2 million tons of potatoes were produced.

Sugarcane is grown along a 2,000 km (1,200 mi) stretch of coastal land in New South Wales and Queensland. About 95% of sugar production comes from Queensland. A normal crushing season is from June to December. The estimated 2005 harvest from 441,000 ha (1,090,000 acres) yielded about 38.6 million tons of sugar cane. The industry faces problems of excessive supply and price elasticity; sugar is sold primarily to Japan, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Malaysia, China, and Singapore. In 2005, some 1,350 ha (3,340 acres) were planted with canola (rapeseed), and about 1,500 tons were produced.

Cotton has been grown in the coastal river valleys of Queensland for more than a century but on a limited scale, and it has provided only a small percentage of Australia's lint requirements. In the 1980s, however, successful development of cotton-growing areas in New South Wales and Western Australia resulted in spectacular production increases. In 1985/86, 685,000 tons of cotton were produced (almost triple the amount in 1979/80); in 2004, production amounted to 490,000 tons.

Australia's wide climate differences permit the cultivation of a range of fruits, from pineapples in the tropical zone to berry fruits in the cooler areas of temperate zones. Orchard fruit trees included orange, 7.1 million; apple, 8.4 million; pear, 1.3 million; and mango, 1.0 million. About 11 million ha (27 million acres) are cultivated for bananas. Production of fruit in 2004 included (in thousands of tons): oranges, 407; bananas, 265; pineapples, 105; pears, 150; peaches, 115; tangerines, 97; lemons and limes, 31; apricots, 20; grapefruit, 13; mangoes, 39; and plums, 30. Australia's wine industry is also growing; viticulture engaged 143,000 ha (353,400 acres) and produced 1,497,000 tons of grapes for winemaking, drying, and other uses in 2003.


About 52% of Australia's land is used in stock raising. Animal husbandry is concentrated in the eastern highlands, but it spreads across the wide interior spaces and even to low-rainfall areas, in which up to 12 ha (30 acres) are required to support one sheep and from which cattle must be taken overland hundreds of miles to coastal meat-packing plants.

Sheep raising has been a mainstay of the economy since the 1820s, when mechanization of the British textile industry created a huge demand for wool. In 1800, there were 6,124 sheep in Australia; by 1850 there were 17.5 million; by 1894, some 100 million; and in 1970, a record high of some 180 million. Sheep numbers fell to 120 million in 1994/95 (the lowest since 1953/54) due to severe drought. Australia's flocks, some 102.7 million in 2005, now constitute approximately 10% of the world's sheep but produce about 25% of the world's wool supply. That year, New South Wales and Western Australia accounted for 35% and 25% of the nation's sheep, respectively. Wool production, the largest in the world, was an estimated 528,000 tons in 2004. About 95% is exported (mostly to China); nevertheless, wool, which represented 50% of Australia's merchandise exports (by value) in 1957/58, constituted only 6% by the mid-1990s. Since 1990, wool production has fallen by 35%, due in part to declining world demand. Australia accounts for 75% of the world's exports of wool apparel. During periods of great drought, such as the early 1980s, the number of sheep has diminished by 40 million or more. (A drop of 60 million occurred in the droughts of 1993/94.) In the better lands, however, animal husbandry ranks high on a world scale. Large, scientifically managed stations have produced some of the world's finest stock. Sheep of the Merino breed, noted for its heavy wool yield, make up about three-quarters of Australian flocks.

In 2005 there were an estimated 2.5 million hogs and 24.7 million head of beef cattle and 3 million head of milk cattle. In 2004, meat production totaled an estimated 3,750,000 tons. Of these, beef and veal constituted 2,033,000 tons; poultry, 681,000 tons; mutton and lamb, 561,000 tons; and ham, pork, and bacon, 406,000 tons. Butter production in 2004 (in factories) amounted to an estimated 130,000 tons; whole milk was estimated 10.4 million tons; and cheese (factory production) was about 364,000 tons. In 2000, the government implemented a dairy deregulation plan removing price supports. Egg production is around 155,000 tons per year, predominantly for domestic consumption. Australia produces some 25,000 to 30,000 tons of honey per year, half of which is exported. Beef exports in 2003 were a$3.9 billion. Nearly 60% of total beef production is exported annually, most of it going to the United States, South Korea, and Taiwan.


Fishing is relatively unimportant, even though the Australian Fishing Zone is the third-largest in the world. Even with a low per capita fish consumption, Australia must import about half its normal requirements. Pearl and other shell fishing are relatively significant. The 2003 catch of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks totaled 258,032 tons, 99% from marine waters. Exports of fishery products in 2003 were valued at us$894.6 million.


Forests and woodlands cover 162.7 million ha (402 million acres), or about 21% of the total land area; most timberland is neither exploited nor potentially exploitable. Native forests cover 50.2 million ha (124 million acres), 31% of the forested area, of which 23% is privately owned and 77% is state forest, crown land, and permanent national parks or reserves. National parks and wildlife preserves occupy about 3.8 million ha (9.4 million acres), or 9% of the total forestlands. About 60% of the state forest areas are available for sustainable logging; crown lands are mostly leased for cattle grazing with limited timber production. Native forests consist principally of hardwood and other fine cabinet and veneer timbers; eucalyptus dominates about 35 million ha (86.5 million acres). Limited softwood resources had become seriously depleted, but new plantations were established in the 1980s at a rate of 33,000 ha (81,500 acres) annually. Plantation forests cover 1,666,000 ha (4,117,000 acres), of which 59% is softwood. Softwood plantations supply more than half the timber harvested annually. Since 1990, plantings have shifted from primarily softwood to mostly hardwood. About 90% of the standing hardwood plantations have been planted since 1990. Although Australia is a net importer of forest products, the forest and wood products industries contribute 2% to GDP.

Roundwood production in 2003 totaled about 29.9 million cu m (1.06 billion cu ft), with exports of 1,374,000 cu m (48.5 million cu ft). Softwood log production in 2004/05 was estimated at 16.5 million cu m (582 million cu ft). Softwood log production grew over 5% during 19952005, as a response to historically high levels of building activity driven by strong economic growth and low interest rates. Australia's leading forest products are softwood logs and chips. Whereas all of the softwood log production is consumed at home, all commercial woodchip production is exported.


Australia is one of the world's leading producers of minerals, ranking among the world's top nations in terms of economic demonstrated resources (EDR) for lead, mineral sands, nickel, silver, tantalum, uranium, and zinc. In addition, its EDR ranked the country among the top six for bauxite, black coal, brown coal, cobalt, copper, gem and near-gem diamonds, gold, iron ore, lithium, manganese ore, and rare-earth oxides, The country is virtually self-sufficient in mineral commodities, commercially producing more than 60 minerals and metals. In 2003, Australia was the world's leading exporter of alumina, bauxite, coal, diamond, ilmenite, iron ore (the country's fourth-largest minerals earner), refined lead, rutile, and zircon.

Gold production in 2003 was 282,000 kg, down from 296,410 kg in 2000. Western Australia was the largest gold producer. Australia has around 8% of the world's gold resources, and in terms of output ranks third in the world, behind the Republic of South Africa and the United States, respectively.

In 2002, Australia produced 16,382,000 tons of alumina and 54,135,000 tons of bauxite (for the 30th consecutive year). Bauxite deposits in northern Queensland were among the world's largest; those in the Northern Territory were also in production.

Australia also ranked second in iron ore (with 15% of world production), mined cobalt, and mined zinc; ranked third in mined gold (with 10% of the world's output) and mined nickel; and was fourth in mined copper. Australia produced 2,077 metric tons of mined silver in 2002.

In 2002, Australia produced 15,136,000 carats of gem diamond (14,656,000 carats in 1998), and 18,500,000 carats of industrial diamond (11,992,000 carats in 1998). Reserves were estimated at 82.4 million carats of gem and near-gem diamond, and 85.5 million of industrial diamond. Argyle's principal diamond ore body, the AK-1 lamproite pipe, near Kununurra, Western Australia, produced nearly twice the amount of diamond as any other in the world, able to supply 42 million carats a year, including some of the highest diamond gradesabout 5% was of gem quality, including a small number of very rare pink diamonds; 40% was of near gem quality; and 55% was of industrial quality.

The value of opal produced in 2002 was a$62 million. Lightning Ridge, in New South Wales, was the world's major source of black opal. Australia also produced 30% of the world's rough sapphire, valued at a$1 million in 2002; commercial production came from alluvial deposits. Jade was discovered in the form of nephrite, at the world's largest identified resource, in the Eyre Peninsula. Australia produced most of the world's chrysoprase, known as Australian jade. Other gemstones produced in the country include agate, amethyst, chiastolite, emerald (aquamarine), garnet (25,000 metric tons annually, from 1999 through 2002), rhodonite, topaz, tourmaline, turquoise, and zircon.

Iron ore production in 2002 was 187,219,000 tons, 97% percent of iron ore came from the Pilbara region. Reserves were estimated to be 15,500 million tons.

The country produced 883,000 tons of contained copper in 2002, up from 560,000 in 1997. Reserves were estimated to be 22.2 million tons. WMC's Olympic Dam underground mine, in South Australia, was the country's largest copper mine, and a us$1.1 billion expansion program was expected to increase production from 200,000 tons per year to 245,000 tons. Production of gold and silver at the mine in 1999 was 2,426 kg and 26,438 kg, respectively.

Zinc output in 2002 was 1,469,000 tons, 16% of world output, with reserves of 32 million tons. The McArthur River base-metal mine, in the Northern Territory, had record-setting tonnages of bulk concentrate.

In 2002, the country produced 2,187,000 tons of manganese ore (48% manganese content), with reserves of 134 million tons. Groote Eylandt Mining Co. mined about 10% of the world's manganese at its 2.4-millionton capacity Eylandt open cut operations, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Lead output, 683,000 tons (reserves of 14.6 million tons); nickel, 208,000 tons, all from Western Australia, with reserves of 10.6 million tons; and tin, 6,268,000 tons, all by Australia's only producer, Renison Bell Mine, in Tasmania, with reserves of 100,900 tons.

Australia had a substantial portion of the world's mineral sand resourcesabout 29% for ilmenite, 31% for rutile, and 46% for zirconand in 2002 produced 28% of the world's ilmenite (1,917,000 tons, with reserves of 180.9 million), 55% of the world's rutile (218,000 tons, with reserves of 19.8 million), and 42% of the world's zircon, with reserves of 26.3 million tons. The dominant producer of zircon was Iluka Resources, with a capacity of 300 tons per year. Australia was also one of the world's leading producers of titanium and zirconium (373,000 tons in 2000). Gwalia Consolidated was the world's largest producer of lithium minerals (spodumene) and of tantalum in the form of concentrates, supplying a quarter of the world's annual tantalum requirements. Reserves were estimated at 156,000 tons lithium and 24,700 tons of tantalum. In 2000, the Greenbushes Mine, south of Perth, was the world's largest and highest-grade resource for spodumene, 64,983 tons of which was produced in the country, down from 117,094 in 1996. Gwalia controlled the world's largest stock of tantalum resources and produced 415 tons from two operations in Western Australia.

Other industrial minerals produced in Australia in 2002 included clays, diatomite, gypsum (3.8 million tons), limestone (20 million tons), magnesite (484,314 metric tons, with reserves of 246 million tons), phosphate rock (2,024,580,000 tons), salt, sand and gravel, silica (4.5 million tons), and dimension stone (120,000 tons).


Between 1982/83 and 1993/94, energy consumption increased 36% for industrial, commercial, and residential use, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Because of its relatively scant hydroelectric resources and only recently discovered oil, Australia has had to rely on coal-burning steam plants for about three-quarters of its public power requirements. The remainder has been supplied by hydroelectricity, gas turbines, and internal combustion generators. In 2002, electricity generation totaled 209.616 billion kWh, of which 91.2% came from fossil fuels, almost 7.1% from hydropower, none from nuclear energy, and 1.2% from other sources. In the same year, consumption of electricity totaled 194.943 million kWh. Total capacity in 2002 was 45.267 million kW.

Major electric power undertakings, originally privately owned and operated, were by 1952 under the control of state organizations. In the early 1990s however, many of the Australian state governments began privatizing sections of their energy utilities. Manufacturing has been developed most extensively in or near coal areas, and distribution of electricity to principal users is therefore relatively simple. All major cities except Perth use 240-volt, 50-cycle, three-phase alternating current; Perth has 250-volt, 40-cycle, single-phase alternating current.

The Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme in southeast New South Wales, Australia's most ambitious public works project, comprises 7 power stations, a pumping station, 16 large and many smaller dams, and 145 km (90 mi) of tunnels and 80 km (50 mi) of aqueducts. It provides electricity to the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and Victoria. The project took 25 years to complete and has a generating capacity of 3,740 MW (about 10% of Australia's total generating capacity). The Snowy Mountains scheme and other large power projects in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania have greatly increased the nation's aggregate installed capacity. The only state with water resources sufficient for continuous operation of large hydroelectric power stations is Tasmania, which possesses about 50% of Australia's hydroelectric energy potential. Production and use of such power is on the increase throughout the country, however.

As of 2002 Australia was the world's fourth-largest coal producer. Since 1986, it has been the world's largest exporter of coal. In that time exports have doubled, reaching 162 million tons by 1997. Exports of black coal alone totaled about 85 million tons in 2001. In that year exports account for more than half of total coal production. The major market is Japan, which imports about 50% of Australia's coal exports. At home, coal supplied 44% of the country's energy as of 2002. Production in 2002 amounted to 376.8 million tons; around 80% of Australia's coal was bituminous and 20% was lignite. New South Wales and Queensland account for more than 95% of Australia's black coal production and virtually all its exports. Australia has over 55 billion tons of recoverable reserves of bituminous coal, an amount that could satisfy production levels for about 260 years at current levels of demand.

In early 1983, Alcoa Australia signed a contract with the Western Australian State Energy Commission, at an estimated cost of a$11.2 billion, to supply natural gas from the Northwest Shelf (the North West Gas Shelf ProjectNWGSP). In 1985, eight Japanese companies agreed to buy 5.84 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year from 1989 to 2009. Capacity has continued to increase thanks to completion of additional offshore platforms and onshore facilities. The a$4 billion expansion of the North West Shelf LNG Project added seven million tons to LNG production when it began operation in 2003. Proven natural gas reserves totaled 2.46 trillion cu m (86.9 trillion cu ft) as of end 2004. In early 1992, petroleum exploration began in the Timor Sea; the area had been off limits for over a decade in order to establish a zone of cooperation with Indonesia. In 2001 Australia, Phillips Petroleum, and the newly independent state of East Timor renegotiated arrangements for development of the Bayu Undan oil field in the Timor Sea, with 90% of the royalties going to East Timor.

Oil production, which began in 1964, totaled 541,000 barrels per day in 2004; proven reserves at the end of 2004 totaled 4 billion barrels. Commercially exploitable uranium reserves are estimated at 474,000 tons. Rapid increases in demand for oil have outpaced supply, leaving Australia with a growing oil deficit. It is estimated that self-sufficiency in oil could plummet to only 40%.


In proportion to its total population, Australia is one of the world's most highly industrialized countries. The manufacturing sector has undergone significant expansion in recent years and turns out goods ranging from traditional textiles and processed foodstuffs to automobiles, chemicals, specialty steels and plastics, to elaborately transformed manufactures (ETMs), such as high speed ferries, telecommunications equipment and motor vehicles. The leading manufacturing industries are food and beverage processing; machinery and equipment manufacturing; metal product manufacturing; and petroleum, coal, chemical and associated product manufacturing. In 1995, manufacturing accounted for us$48.8 billion, or about 15% of GDP. By 2000, the value of manufactures had fallen in absolute and relative terms, to us$45.5 billion, or about 13% of GDP, continuing 20 years of post-industrial transformation to a services-dominated economy. In 2000, however, manufacturing grew by 4%, above the overall economy's rate of 3.2%. In 2004, industry accounted for 26.4% of GDP, and the industrial growth rate was 1.9%.

Australia is self-sufficient in beverages, most foods, building materials, many common chemicals, some domestic electrical appliances, radios, plastics, textiles, and clothing; in addition, most of its needed communications equipment, farm machinery (except tractors), furniture, leather goods, and metal manufactures are domestically produced. Recent years have seen the rapid growth of high-tech industries including aircraft, communications and other electronic equipment, electrical appliances and machinery, pharmaceuticals, and scientific equipment, and the government has supported the growth of these new sectors. High-tech industry contributes a substantial amount to the economy, with an annual growth rate of 20% expected until 2010. Many manufacturing companies are closely connectedfinancially and technicallywith manufacturers in the European Union, the United States, or Asia.


Two organizations support most of Australian government research and development. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), headquartered in Melbourne and founded in 1926, is an independent government agency that supports research and development in all fields of the physical and biological sciences except defense science, nuclear energy, and clinical medicine. The Defense Science and Technology Organization (DSTO), headquartered in Canberra, supports military research and development by providing scientific and technological assistance to the Australian Defence Force and Department of Defence.

Several issues dominate current Australian science and technology policy: the concentration of research and development (R&D) in national research centers; tensions among and between university researchers over allocation of R&D funding resources; effective communication between industry, government, and university researchers; the growing role which industry is playing in support of national R&D development; and the role which Australia is playing in international science and technology collaboration. High-technology exports totaled us$2.945 billion in 2002 or 16% of manufactured exports.

In 2000, R&D spending totaled us$7,759.748 million, or 1.55% of GDP, of which the government funded 45.7% of all R&D and industry about 46.3%. Higher education accounted for 4.8%, with 3.3% coming from foreign sources. In 1996, there were 73 agricultural, medical, scientific, and technical professional associations and societies, the foremost of which is the Australian Academy of Science, founded in 1954 by royal charter. The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering was founded in 1976. The Australian Science and Technology Council (ASTEC) provides an independent source of counsel for the Australian Prime Minister; its role was augmented in 1986 by the creation of a post for a Minister Assisting the Prime Minister with portfolio for science and technology.

In 1996, Australia had 36 universities offering courses in basic and applied science. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 24% of college and university enrollments. In 2001, 23.1% of all bachelor's degrees awarded were in science (natural sciences, mathematics and computers, and engineering). The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, the largest museum complex in Australia, has 25 exhibitions in the areas of science, technology, social history, and decorative arts.


There are many small specialty shops, but in the larger cities department stores sell all kinds of items. Supermarkets have been widely established and telephone shopping and delivery services are becoming popular. The number of franchise companies is growing. Reports indicate that in 1988, there were 184 business-format franchised companies in the country. By 2004, there were about 850 business franchise systems, a 21% increase over 2002. In 2004, there were approximately 54,000 franchise units, 14% more than in 2002. Ninety-two percent of franchisee systems are of Australian origin. These franchised businesses are about 2.5 times more successful than non-franchised businesses. Installment selling, called hire purchase, is used in the sale of many products. In the past few years, direct marketing has grown at an annual rate of about 7%. Reliable commercial credit agencies cover all the main cities and many smaller towns.

The usual business hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, MondayFriday, with some businesses also open from 9 am to noon on Saturday. Retail shops generally stay open later, usually with evening hours at least one day a week. Restaurants and convenience stores are open to later hours. Many retail establishments are open on Saturday and Sunday. Banks are generally open from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday. Travelers checks and credit cards are widely accepted. A 10% goods and services tax (GST) replaced wholesale and state sales taxes as of 1 July 2000. The GST applies to most goods and services with a few exceptions, including basic foods, education, and health care.

Most advertising is done through the press, radio, and television. Principal advertising agencies are in Sydney and Melbourne.


Measured by foreign trade volume per capita, Australia is one of the great trading nations, and it continues to show a steady rise in trade volume. Throughout the 1970s, exports regularly exceeded imports. In the early 1980s, however, there was a trade deficit, which continued into the 1990s and 2000s.

Australia is mainly an exporter of primary products and an importer of manufactured and semi-finished goods, although the export of manufactured goods increased by 10% per year during the 1990s. Transport or re-export trade is negligible. In recent years, Australia's foreign trade has tended to shift from European markets to developing Asian nations, which now account for nearly 60% of Australia's exports, compared with about 10% in 1975.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 70,246.0 84,492.2 -14,246.2
Japan 12,807.6 10,583.1 2,224.5
United States 6,154.6 13,561.6 -7,407.0
China 5,914.7 9,298.7 -3,384.0
New Zealand 5,308.2 3,265.2 2,043.0
Korea, Republic of 5,267.1 3,089.9 2,177.2
United Kingdom 4,821.6 3,558.3 1,263.3
Other Asia nes 2,421.7 2,169.9 251.8
Singapore 2,283.4 2,901.5 -618.1
India 2,170.4 637.8 1,532.6
China, Hong Kong SAR 1,870.0 749.4 1,120.6
() data not available or not significant.

Although mining and agriculture are small in terms of GDP (under 5% each), they account for a large share of exports. Rural and mineral exports (including processed goods) account for about two-thirds of total merchandise exports. Australia's commodity exports are dominated by fossil, mineral, and plant fuels, including coal, lignite, and peat (11%). Wool may only amount to a small percentage (2.5%) of Australia's exports, but Australia supplies the world with almost half of its imported wool. Food products such as wheat, sugar, and meat exports tie with fuel exports as one of the top commodities leaving the country.

In percentage terms, Australia's main exports in 2004 were: metal ores, minerals, and metals (20%); coal, coke, and petroleum (19%); machinery (12%); and gold (6%). Its major imports in 2004 were machinery (23%); consumer goods (23%); transportation equipment (20%); and fuels and lubricants (8%). Australia's leading markets in 2004 were Japan (18.9% of total exports); ASEAN (11.7%); the European Union (EU) (11.2%); China (9.3%); and the United States (8.1%). Leading suppliers in 2004 were the EU (23.7% of all imports); ASEAN (16.4%); the United States (14.5%); China (12.6%); and Japan (11.8%).


In 2004, merchandise exports rose to us$87.1 billion (balance-of-payments basis), but imports of goods grew much faster, to us$105.3 billion, widening the trade deficit to us$18.2 billion, from us$15.3 billion in 2003. This led to an increase in the current account deficit from us$30.4 billion (6% of GDP) in 2003 to us$40 billion (6.5% of GDP) in 2004. The current account balance over the period 200105 averaged5% of GDP. The current account deficit was expected to narrow to around 5.4% of GDP by 2007, from 6.5% of GDP in 2004.

Australia's exports in the early 2000s reflected the increasingly value-added direction of Australian industry. From 1993 to 2000,

Current Account -30,205.0
     Balance on goods -15,256.0
          Imports -85,852.0
          Exports 70,596.0
     Balance on services -319.0
     Balance on income -14,552.0
     Current transfers -78.0
Capital Account 767.0
Financial Account 36,719.0
     Direct investment abroad -14,707.0
     Direct investment in Australia 7,240.0
     Portfolio investment assets -8,455.0
     Portfolio investment liabilities 48,755.0
     Financial derivatives 738.0
     Other investment assets -6,343.0
     Other investment liabilites 9,491.0
Net Errors and Omissions -404.0
Reserves and Related Items -6,877.0
() data not available or not significant.

manufactured exports grew at an average rate of around 8% per year. Primary products remain the dominant export sector in value terms, however. Nearly half of services credits are accounted for by tourism, while services debits are dominated by transportation services and outbound tourism.


The Reserve Bank of Australia, the central bank reconstituted in 1960, functions as a banker's bank and financial agent of the federal and some state governments, issuing notes, controlling interest and discount rates, mobilizing Australia's international reserves, and administering exchange controls and government loans. It was formerly connected with the Commonwealth Trading Banka general bank, the Commonwealth Savings Bank, and the Commonwealth Development Bank. The banking system has undergone progressive privatization and foreign investment since the deregulation of financial markets in the 1980s under the Wallis Inquiry into the Australian financial system of 1981. In 1996, the government privatized the Commonwealth Banks in the Reserve Bank Act, separating the Commonwealth Banks from the Reserve Bank. Rural credits, mortgage banking, and industrial financing are now administered wholly by private-owned banks. Fifty banks operate in Australia, 35 of which are foreign-owned; the largest banks include National Australia Bank, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, and Westpac. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulates the banks and other financial institutions.

The Australian currency has floated freely since 1983, and was allowed to fall dramatically from 1984 to 1987. The Reserve Bank pointed to an expected upturn in economic activity in 1997 and anticipated a continuation of low inflation. It also indicated that firming economic growth, together with the uncertainties surrounding wage outcomes, made changes to monetary policy settings unlikely. Interest rate cuts were not on the bank's policy agenda, as it waited to see the impact of reductions made in late 1996. From 1996 to 2000, the Australian dollar fell by almost 30% against the US dollar, losing 12% in the first half of 2000 alone. The Reserve Bank increased interest rates a number of times in order to stave off inflation, but the introduction of the 10% GST in July threatened to raise inflation despite monetary policies. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to us$85.3 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas us$258.7 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 5.06%.

The Australian stock market is where equity (shares), units in listed trusts, options, government bonds, and other fixed-interest securities are traded. It is operated on a national basis by the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), which is responsible for the day-to-day running and surveillance of stock market trading. The ASX was established on 1 April 1987, with the passage of the Australian National Guarantee Fund Act through the Commonwealth Parliament. This Act converted the six former capital city Stock Exchanges into state subsidiaries of the ASX. As of 2004 there were 1,515 companies listed on the ASX. Market capitalization as of December 2004 stood at us$776.403 billion, with the ASX up 22.8% from the previous year at 4,050.6.


Australia has one of the most competitive insurance markets in the world, with a large number of insurers competing for business from a small population base. Established in 1987, the Insurance and Superannuation Commission (ISC) was the ultimate regulatory authority for the insurance industry in Australia. It was replaced by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Life insurance firms, through premiums on policies and interest earned on accumulated funds, account for substantial annual savings. The companies invest in government securities, in company securities (including shares and fixed-interest obligations), and in mortgage loans and loans against policies in force. Most loans (to individuals and building societies) are for housing.

Motorvehicle third-party liability, workers' compensation, professional indemnity for certain professions, and Medicare coverage are compulsory. As of 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled us$40.385 billion, with life premiums accounting for the largest portion at us$22.341 billion. The country's top non-life insurer that same year was QBE Group, with earned premium income from domestic business, including reinsurance (excluding public sector insurers) of us$3.919 billion, while the top life insurer that year was AMP, with gross life written premiums of us$4,908.7 million.


The fiscal year begins 1 July and ends 30 June. After World War II, the Commonwealth government assumed greater responsibility for maintaining full employment and a balanced economy, as well as for providing a wide range of social services. Social security and welfare payments are the largest category of government expenditure. The central government has financed almost all its defense and capital works programs from revenue and has made available to the states money raised by public loans for public works programs.

Revenue and Grants 213,386 100.0%
     Tax revenue 194,313 91.1%
     Social contributions 0.0%
     Grants 201 0.1%
     Other revenue 18,872 8.8%
Expenditures 206,858 100.0%
     General public services 55,023 26.6%
     Defense 13,448 6.5%
     Public order and safety 1,939 0.9%
     Economic affairs 12,776 6.2%
     Environmental protection 495 0.2%
     Housing and community amenities 1,413 0.7%
     Health 29,425 14.2%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 1,859 0.9%
     Education 19,211 9.3%
     Social protection 71,269 34.5%
() data not available or not significant.

Deficits are common. In the latter half of the 1980s, however, five consecutive years of significant surpluses occurred as a result of expenditure restraints. The late 1990s also saw consistent surpluses. In 2000, the government implemented a 10% goods and services tax (GST) on all items, while income tax and corporate tax rates were cut.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Australia's central government took in revenues of approximately us$249.8 billion and had expenditures of us$240.2 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately us$9.6 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 16.2% of GDP. Total external debt was us$509.6 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues in millions of Australian dollars were a$213,386 and expenditures were a$206,858. The value of revenues in millions of US dollars was us$32,733 and expenditures us$31,656, based on a market exchange rate for 2003 of 6.519 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 26.6%; defense, 6.5%; public order and safety, 0.9%; economic affairs, 6.2%; environmental protection, 0.2%; housing and community amenities, 0.7%; health, 14.2%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.9%; education, 9.3%; and social protection, 34.5%.


The main taxes (personal and corporate income, payroll, and goods and services tax (GST) are levied by the federal government, but the states and municipalities impose other levies. Federal rates are determined in legislation that is foreshadowed in the budget, presented each August; rates apply to the fiscal year beginning in July, except for company tax rates, which apply to the previous year's income.

In July 2000, the Australian government implemented a complete tax system overhaul with the introduction of a 10% GST on most goods and services, with the exception of basic foods, education, health and some other sectors. The GST replaced most sales taxes and was followed in 2001 by a cut in the corporate tax rate to 30% for both public and private firms. Undistributed profits of private firms are taxed at a higher rate. Nonresident companies pay an additional tax of 5%. Both the federal government and states can levy land taxes, and states levy both stamp duties on various documents and payroll taxes. Excise taxes are levied on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, luxury cars, coal, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, and indigenous crude oil.

As part of the new tax system, federal, state, and territorial governments agreed to fund a First Home Owners Scheme (FHOS) to offset the impact of the new GST on first-time home buyers. A grant of a$7000 was made available for first-time purchases of new and existing housing. On 9 March 2001 the grant was extended to contracts entered into before 1 January 2002. In December 2001 the additional grant was extended to June 2002 but reduced to a$3000, but in July 2002, the grant reverted to its original amount of a$7000 as it was again extended.

Personal taxation is levied by the Commonwealth on a sharply progressive basis. The pay-as-you-earn system (called PAYE) is used. As of 2000, individual tax rates ranged from zero on income up to a$6,000 to 47% on income over a$60,001. Social security taxes are included as part of income taxes. Deductions are allowed for dependents, donations, medical expenses, and children's educational expenses, and for payment of life insurance or pension premiums. There is also a pensioner rebate that varies depending on income. There is also a 1.5% levy on residents to fund the nation's healthcare program, plus a 1% surcharge for those in high income brackets.

In early 1990, the Australian Taxation Office and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) formalized a simultaneous audits agreement to investigate suspected noncompliance with tax laws in both countries.


Before the 1980s, federal policy was to use the tariff to protect local industries (especially the automobile industry), but a three-decade long program of tariff reduction led to tariff rates of 5% or below in 2000. Textiles and clothes (25%), shoes (15%), and automobile products (15%) had higher duties, but those were reduced to 17.5%, 10%, and 10%, respectively, in 2005. The GST of 10% applies for most imports and exports in addition to the duty. Tariffs on industrial machinery and capital equipment ordinarily are low where they do not compete with Australian enterprise and machinery and equipment required by new industries may be imported duty-free or at concessional rates under the Project-By-Law Scheme (PBS).

As a contracting party to GATT, Australia consented to a number of tariff reductions after 1947. Under the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA), which went into effect on 1 January 1981, Australia and New Zealand offered the other South Pacific Forum members duty-free or concessional access to their markets. The Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA, abbreviated to CER) opened bilateral trade between the two countries in 1983. Australia is also a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

The only free-trade zone is the Darwin Trade Development Zone (TDZ), located in the Northern Territory. In 1997, the government introduced a Manufacturing-in-Bond (MIB) zone, allowing firms to import goods duty-free to a warehouse for further manufacturing and ultimate export. The first MIB site approved was the Steel River Facility in Newcastle.


The United States accounts for the biggest share of total foreign investment; in 2004, total US investment in Australia (direct and portfolio) amounted to us$227 billion, which accounted for nearly 30% of total investment in Australia that year. The United Kingdom is second, followed by Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada. Other substantial foreign investors include France, Switzerland, Singapore, and New Zealand. In 2003, the level of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia was us$158.8 billion, or 31% of GDP. Over the period 200105, FDI inflows averaged 3.5% of GDP. In 2003, the level of Australian investment abroad was us$110.5 billion. Most Australian investment abroad goes to the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland.

Almost half of total foreign investment, has been in finance and insurance, with investments in manufacturing, other industries, and mining making up another third. The most recent focus of foreign investment has been the booming tourist industry, and commercial and residential property development. Hotels and resorts on the north New South Wales and Queensland coasts are attracting capital from abroad, as are large office block and hotel projects in the capital cities.

Australia prefers the inflow of long-term development capital to that of short-term speculative capital. It also welcomes the technical competence usually accompanying foreign investment. Investment incentives include tariff protection, and bounties for the manufacture of certain products. Total foreign ownership is permitted, but ownership in certain sectors is subject to restrictions. The Federal Department of the Treasury regulates foreign investment with the assistance of the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which screens for conformity with Australian law and policy. The major legislation governing foreign investment is the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act of 1975, as amended in 1989, and administered according to regulations issued in 1991, as the country was embarking on its program of economic liberalization.


Commonwealth and state governments devoted special attention to the production and marketing of main primary products, and after 1920, legislation provided subsidies or other marketing aids to certain commodities. Federal and state aid was given to industries established in approved fields of manufacture during the 1970s. The Export Market Development Grant Acts of 1974 provided government assistance in the development of export markets. Recipients were eligible for up to 50% reimbursement for expenses incurred establishing foreign markets for domestic goods. In 1975, the government set up the Export Finance and Insurance Corp. (replacing the Export Payments Insurance Corp.) to provide Australian exporters with insurance and other financial services not readily available commercially, to provide insurance against political risk.

The government endeavors to prevent undue fluctuation in the economy. Price controls were in effect during World War II and part of the postwar period and are now imposed on a few essential household items. As an alternative to price controls, the Commonwealth government, in mid-1975, introduced a policy of wage indexing, allowing wages to rise as fast as, but no faster than, consumer prices. Major labor unions, however, opposed this restraint, which was ended in 1981, in the wake of the second oil shock and the onset of global recession. Monetary policy supported recovery from the recession of the early 1980s by holding to a low inflation rate. From the mid-1980s, Australia's government embarked on a basic re-orientation of the economy from inward-looking import substitution industrialization (ISI) to outward-looking export-led growth and liberalization. Key reforms have been unilateral reduction of high tariffs and other protective barriers; letting the Australian dollar float; deregulating the financial services sector; rationalizing and reducing the number of trade unions; privatizing many government-owned services and public utilities, including establishing a fully competitive electricity market, one of only two (with the United Kingdom) among economically developed countries. The transformation and opening of the economy is credited with helping produce, as of 2006, 15 years of uninterrupted expansion exceeding in duration the expansions of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. After August 1993, the focus of fiscal policy shifted towards deficit reduction. During this period, the national debt declined from a peak of 19% of GDP in 199596, to less than 7% of GDP in 200001. However, by 2004, the public debt was estimated at 17.4% of GDP.

The government has been particularly aggressive in promoting Australia as an "information economy." It is second in the world after the United States in PC use. Australia has been ranked as second (only to the United States) among 60 countries surveyed in terms of providing an environment conducive to the development of e-business opportunities. In 2000, the new tax system aimed at increasing the government budget while stimulating economic growth in such sectors as tourism/services and high technology.

Although the Australian economy as of 2006 enjoyed healthy growth, low inflation, the lowest unemployment rate it had had for almost 30 years, negligible government debt, and regular budget surpluses, improvements to the economy may still be made. They include: more labor-market reform, tax reform, investment in people and infrastructure, and better relations between the federal government and Australia's six states and two territories. A growing current account deficit must be managed. Reform of the public health, higher-education, and welfare systems, and funded pension programs are also assuming greater importance.


Social Security measures have been in effect since 1908 and cover all residents. Old age pensions are payable to men 65 years of age and over, and to women 62.5years of age and over, who have lived in Australia continuously for at least 10 years at some stage in their lives. The continuous-residence requirement may be waived for those who have been residents for numerous shorter periods. Disability pensions are payable to persons 16 years of age and older who have lived at least five years in Australia and have become totally incapacitated or permanently blind. The family allowance legislation provides for weekly payments to children under 16 years of age. Widows' pensions are also provided. Employed persons are covered by workers' compensation, and unemployment assistance is provided for those aged 21 to 65. Youths aged between 16 and 20 are eligible for the youth training allowance, administered by the Department of Employment, Education and Training. Work-related sickness and maternity benefits are provided, as well as medical benefits for all residents. There are numerous programs in place for families of limited means, including child care and rent assistance.

The Sex Discrimination Act bars discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy. The Office for Women was created to monitor the position of women in society. Sexual harassment is specifically prohibited by law, and is aggressively addressed by the government. Sex discrimination complaints were down in 2004 by seven percent. Domestic violence remains a problem, particularly in Aboriginal communities. The government has a strong commitment to the welfare of children.

Discrimination on the basis of race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin was prohibited in the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975. Despite these measures, aboriginal Australians have poorer standards of living, are imprisoned more often, and die younger than white Australians.


Australia is one of the healthiest countries in the world. The common cold and other respiratory infections are the most prevalent forms of illness; arteriosclerosis is the most common cause of death. Water in most cities is good and safe for household purposes and garbage and trash are collected in cities and towns.

All levels of government are concerned with public health, with the municipalities functioning largely as agents for the administration of state policies. State health departments are responsible for infant welfare, school medical and dental services (provided free of charge), treatment and eradication of infectious and contagious diseases and tuberculosis, industrial hygiene programs, maintenance of food and drug standards, public and mental hospitals, and the regulation of private hospitals. The Commonwealth government makes grants for medical research, coordinates state health programs, and maintains specialist medical research institutions and laboratories.

Public sector funding accounts for over two-thirds of health care expenditure in Australia; some is allocated via the central government and some via local authorities. Since the introduction of Medicare (the national health insurance program) in 1984, the share of funding provided by the federal government has risen. Under the Medicare system, all Australians have access to free care at public hospitals. The plan also meets three-fourths of the bill for private hospital treatment, while patients pay the remainder (and can take out private health insurance to cover this, although comprehensive private medical insurance was abolished in the 1984 act). Total health care expenditure was estimated at 8.6% of GDP as of 1999.

Since 1950, certain drugs have been provided free of charge when prescribed by a medical practitioner. All patients other than pensioners must pay a set amount for every prescription supplied under the scheme; the remainder is met by the government. For those not eligible for free public health care and who have basic medical insurance, the government pays 30% of the scheduled benefit fee for each medical service. Such insurance, including the government contribution, covers 85% of scheduled fees. The federal government provides grants to the states and aboriginal organizations for the development of special health services for aboriginals. As of 1992, aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders had unacceptably low levels of health. Though, they have access to the same health care system as any other Australian, they are often reluctant to take full advantage of it. Unemployed persons, recent immigrants and refugees, and certain low-income persons are entitled to health care cards that entitle the bearer and dependents to free medical and hospital treatment.

Health services are efficient. Hospitals are generally modern and well equipped, but space often is at a premium. In 1998, there were more than 1,015 acute-care hospitals, of which 734 were public hospitals. As of 1999, there were an estimated 8.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Most private hospitals tend to be fairly small and there are a large number of private hospitals run by religious groups. Hospital facilities are concentrated in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, which together account for about half the country's hospitals and hospital beds.

As of 2004, there were an estimated 249 physicians per 100,000 people in Australia. Additionally, there were approximately 42 dentists, 60 midwives, and 775 nurses per 100,000 people. Competent general physicians and specialists are available in most cities and the Royal Flying Doctor Service provides medical care and treatment to people living in remote areas.

Infant mortality in 2005 was 4.69 per 1,000 live births, one of the lowest in the world. The under-five mortality rate has steadily decreased from 24 in 1960 to 7 in 2000. Approximately 67% of married women (ages 1549) used contraception. The 1999 birth rate was 13.2 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the fertility rate in 2000 was 1.8 per woman. The estimated life expectancy in 2005 was 80.39 years, the eighth-highest in the world. Estimated immunization of one-year-old children was as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 88%; and measles, 89%. In 1999, the incidence of tuberculosis was 6.2 per 1,000 people.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 14,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


According to 2001 national census figures, there were about 7,072,200 dwellings in the nation, representing over 7.3 million households. In Tasmania, there were about 208,704 dwellings. Nationwide, about 78% of all dwellings are separate, single-family houses (about 5.3 million houses). About 22% are classified as higher density housing, including row or terrace housing, town-houses, and apartment buildings. About 70% of all units are owner occupied. Central heating, formerly available only in the most modern and expensive homes and apartments, is now generally available in the coldest areas of the country. Most apartments and houses are equipped with hot-water service, refrigeration, and indoor bath and toilet facilities.


Education is compulsory for children from the age of 6 to 15 (16 in Tasmania). Most children attend pre-school or kindergarten programs. Primary education generally begins at six years of age and lasts for six or seven years, depending on the state. Secondary schools have programs of four to six years. Free education is provided in municipal kindergartens and in state primary, secondary, and technical schools. There are also state-regulated private schools, which are attended by approximately one-third of Australian children. Correspondence courses and educational broadcasts are given for children living in the remote "outback" areas and unable to attend school because of distance or physical handicap. One-teacher schools also satisfy these needs. Although most aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students use the regular school system, there are special programs to help them continue on to higher education.

Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 97% of age-eligible students; 96% for boys and 97% for girls. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 88% of age-eligible students; 87% for boys and 89% for girls. The pupil to teacher ratio for primary school was at about 18:1 in 2003. Also in 2003, private schools accounted for about 28% of primary school enrollment and 30.5% of secondary enrollment.

Although each state controls its own system, education is fairly uniform throughout Australia. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.9% of GDP. Education is the joint responsibility of the federal government and each state government and territory. The federal government directly controls schools in the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory.

Australia has approximately 20 universities in addition to more than 200 technical institutes. There is a state university in each capital city and each provincial area; a national postgraduate research institute in Canberra and a university of technology in Sydney with a branch at Newcastle. There are also a number of privately funded higher-education institutions including theological and teacher training colleges. Adult education includes both vocational and non-vocational courses. Most universities offer education programs for interested persons. In 2003, it was estimated that about 74% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in higher education programs; 67% men and 82% women.


The National Library of Australia traces its origins back to 1902, but it was not until 1961 that it was legislatively separated from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library and made a distinct entity. The National Library is now housed in modern facilities in Canberra and has over 4.7 million volumes. Three other libraries in Australia of comparable size are the library of the University of Sydney (over three million volumes), founded in 1852; the State Library of New South Wales (over 1.9 million volumes), founded in 1826; the State Library of Victoria (over 1.5 million), founded in 1854, and the Library Information Service of Western Australia (2.7 million). The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Library Service oversees nine public library branches and the ACT Government and Assembly Library. The state capital cities have large noncirculating reference libraries, as well as municipal public circulating libraries. The university libraries of Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Monash, New South Wales, and Queensland all have sizable collections. Recent years have seen programs with increased cooperation between libraries, which has resulted in increased service. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in Acton has a specialized collection of 15,000 volumes, and dozens of museums and cultural centers house other specialized collections.

There are about 2,000 museums in Australia, of which over 200 are art museums. A national art collection has been assembled in the Australian National Gallery at Canberra, which was opened to the public in October 1982. The National Museum of Australia, founded 1980 in Canberra, exhibits Australian history and social history. In 2001 the museum opened new facilities in a stunning architectural structure on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. There are eight other major museums, two each in Sydney and Melbourne and one in each of the other state capitals. Of note in Melbourne are a Performing Arts Museum (1978); the Ancient Times House (1954); and the Jewish Museum of Australia. The Melbourne Museum, completed in 2000, became the largest museum in the southern hemisphere. Sydney houses the Australian National Maritime Museum (1985), the Museum of Contemporary Art (1979) and the Nicholson Museum of Antiquities (1860). Some of the smaller cities also have museums. The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne has a fine collection of paintings and other artworks, and the South Australian Museum in Adelaide has excellent collections relating to Australian entomology, zoology, and ethnology. Botanical gardens are found in every capital city.


Responsibility for the nation's postal service is vested in the Australian Postal Commission and with the Australian Telecommunications Commission. Local and long-distance telephone services are rated highly. In 2003, there were an estimated 542 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 719 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

The government administers and supervises broadcasting through the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which operates a nationwide noncommercial radio and television service; the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, which licenses and regulates commercial broadcasters; and the Special Broadcasting Service, which prepares and broadcasts multilingual radio and television programs. Federal government stations are financed from budget revenues, and the private commercial stations derive their income from business advertising. The primary news services are the Australian Associated Press and ABC Newsonline. As of 1999 there were 262 AM and 345 FM radio stations and 104 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 1,996 radios and 722 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 76 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 565.1 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 567 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. In 2004, there were 8,224 secure servers in the country.

In general, news is presented straightforwardly, and political criticism is considered fair and responsible. The Australian, one of only two national newspapers, was established in 1964 and is published in all state capitals. It is independent and had an estimated daily circulation in 1999 of 153,000. The other national daily, the Australian Financial Review, had a MondayFriday average circulation of 78,000 in the same year. The Age is published in Melbourne with a daily circulation of 197,000 in 2004. The Sydney Morning Herald, a conservative daily, had a daily circulation of 225,861 in 2004. Major Sunday newspapers include the Sun-Herald (613,000) and the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, and the Sunday Mail in Brisbane (598,070). The major news agency is the Australian Associated Press, founded in 1935; it has been associated with Reuters since 1946. Many international news services have bureaus in Sydney.

Though the Australian constitution does not have specific guarantees of freedom of expression, the High Court has, in two decisions, declared that freedom of political discourse is implied. The government is said to respect all such rights in practice.


Chambers of commerce and chambers of manufacture are active throughout Australia, especially in the state capital cities; the Australian Chamber of Commerce (1091) coordinates their activities. The Australian Consumers' Association is active. There are also trade unions and business associations in a wide variety of fields. Agricultural producers and industry workers are represented through the Australian Dairy Corporation, the Aus-Meat, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, and the Australian Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries, to name a few.

There are professional associations or scholarly societies in the fields of architecture, art, international affairs, economics, political and social science, engineering, geography, history, law, literature, medicine, philosophy, and the natural sciences. Many publish scholarly journals. Notable societies include the Australian Academy of Science,

The Australia Council (founded in 1943) encourages amateur activities in the arts and sponsors traveling exhibitions of ballet, music, and drama. Theatrical, musical, and dance organizations are present in the larger cities and towns. Other notable art and cultural groups are the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Australian Film Institute, and the National Trust of Australia.

Health and welfare organizations include the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, the Australian Dental Association, the Australian Medical Association, and the Australian Medical Council, among others. There are numerous associations for specialized fields of medicine and science.

Several sports organizations are present. Skiing and tobogganing clubs function in the mountainous areas. Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, and several other cities have large yacht clubs. Every state capital city has swimming and surfing clubs.

There are numerous youth organizations. One of the most prominent is the National Union of Students of Australia (NUSA), which was founded in 1987 by uniting the existing student unions in the Australian states. It now represents the concerns and interests of over 250,000 students. The President of NUSA has a position on the Higher Education Council, which advises the Australian Minister for Employment, Education, and Training. Other youth groups include the Australian Youth Hostel Association, Student Services of Australia, Tertiary Catholic Federation of Australia, the YMCA and YWCA, Young Liberal Movement, Young National Party, and Young Socialist League. Scouting organizations are also active throughout the country.

There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, Caritas, Habitat for Humanity, the Christian Children's Fund, Doctor's Without Borders, World Vision, Amnesty International, and UNICEF.


Among Australia's natural tourist attractions are the Great Barrier Reef, a mecca for scuba divers; the varied and unusual flora and fauna; and the sparsely inhabited outback regions, which in some areas may be toured by camel. Other attractions include Ballarat and other historic gold-rush towns near Melbourne; wineries, particularly in the Barossa Valley, 55 km (34 mi) northeast of Adelaide; Old Sydney Town, a recreation of the Sydney Cove Settlement north of Sydney as it was in the early 19th century; and the arts festivals held in Perth every year and in Adelaide every two years, featuring foreign as well as Australian artists.

The sports that lure tourists are surfing, sailing, fishing, golf, tennis, cricket, and rugby. Melbourne is famous for its horse racing (Australia's most celebrated race is the Melbourne Cup) and for its 120,000-capacity cricket ground, reputedly the biggest in the world.

Except for nationals of New Zealand, visitors must have a valid visa. Immunizations are required only of tourists coming from an infected area.

The government actively promotes tourism. In 2003, Australia attracted 4,745,855 foreign visitors. Typically, most visitors come from East Asia and the Pacific region. That year there were 204,461 hotel rooms with 580,252 beds and an occupancy rate of 60%. The average length of stay was two nights. Tourist receipts totaled over us$15 billion.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Melbourne at us$288 and in Sydney, at us$248.


The most highly regarded contemporary Australian writer is Patrick White (191290), author of The Eye of the Storm and other works of fiction and winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize for literature. Other well-known novelists are Henry Handel Richardson (Henrietta Richardson Robertson, 18701946), Miles Franklin (18791954), Christina Stead (190283), and Thomas Michael Keneally (b.1935). Henry Lawson (18671922) was a leading short-story writer and creator of popular ballads. Germaine Greer (b.1939) is a writer on feminism. A prominent Australian-born publisher of newspapers and magazines, in the United Kingdom and the United States as well as Australia, is Keith Rupert Murdoch (b.1931).

Three renowned scholars of Australian origin are Sir Gilbert Murray, O.M. (18661957), classicist and translator of ancient Greek plays; Samuel Alexander, O.M. (18591938), influential scientific philosopher; and Eric Partridge (18941979), authority on English slang. Sir Howard Walter Florey (18981968) shared the 1945 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of penicillin. An outstanding bacteriologist was Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet, O.M. (18991985), director of the Melbourne Hospital and co-winner of the 1960 Nobel Prize for medicine. Elizabeth Kenny (18861952) made important contributions to the care and treatment of infantile paralysis victims. Sir John Carew Eccles (19031997) shared the 1963 Nobel Prize for medicine for his work on ionic mechanisms of the nerve cell membrane. John Warcup Cornforth (b.1917) shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his work on organic molecules. Peter C. Doherty (b.1940) shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work in immunology. Barry J. Marshall (b.1951) and J. Robin Warren (b.1937), both Australians, shared the 2005 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, which causes stomach ulcers and gastritis.

Among Australia's most prominent film directors are Fred Schepisi (b.1939), Bruce Beresford (b.1940), George Miller (b.1943), Peter Weir (b.1944), and Gillian Armstrong (b.1950); film stars have included Australian-born Errol Flynn (190959), Paul Hogan (b.1940), and US-born Mel Gibson (b.1956). Leading Australian-born figures of the theater include the actors Dame Judith Anderson (18981992) and Cyril Ritchard (18981977) and the ballet dancer, choreographer, and stage actor and director Sir Robert Murray Helpmann (190986). Musicians of Australian birth include the operatic singers Dame Nellie Melba (18611931), John Brownlee (190169), Marjorie Lawrence (190779), and Dame Joan Sutherland (b.1926) and the composers Percy Grainger (18821961), Arthur Benjamin (18931960), Peggy Glanville-Hicks (19121990), and Peter Joshua Sculthorpe (b.1929). Popular singers include Helen Reddy (b.1941) and Olivia Newton-John (b.UK, 1948). Alfred Hill (18701960) is regarded as the founder of the art of musical composition in Australia. Albert Namatjira (190259), an Aranda aboriginal, achieved renown as a painter, as did Sir Sidney Robert Nolan (191792) and Arthur Boyd (192099), who was a sculptor as well as a painter. The aviator Sir Charles Edward Kingsford-Smith (18971935) pioneered flights across the Pacific Ocean. A popular figure of folklore was the outlaw Ned (Edward) Kelly (1855?80).

From about 1970 to 1990, the tennis world was dominated by such Australian players as Frank Sedgman (b.1927), Lewis Hoad (193494), Kenneth Rosewall (b.1934), Rod (George) Laver (b.1938), John David Newcombe (b.1944), and Evonne Goolagong Cawley (b.1951). Sir Donald George Bradman (19082001) was one of the outstanding cricket players of modern times. Record-breaking long-distance runners include John Landy (b.1930) and Herb Elliott (b.1938). Jon Konrads (b.1942) and his sister Ilsa (b.1944) have held many world swimming records, as did Dawn Fraser (b.1937), the first woman to swim 100 meters in less than a minute, and Murray Rose (b.1939).

A notable modern Australian statesman is Sir Robert Gordon Menzies (18941978), who served as prime minister from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. Subsequent prime ministers have included Edward Gough Whitlam (b.1916), who held office from 1972 to 1975; John Malcolm Fraser (b.1930), who succeeded Whitlam late in 1975; Robert James Lee Hawke (b.1929), who served from 198391, Paul John Keating (b.1944), who succeeded Bob Hawke in 1991; and John Winston Howard (b.1939), who began his term as Australia's 25th prime minister in 1996; he has been the most electorally successful prime minister since Menzies.


Since 1936, Australia has claimed all territory in Antarctica (other than Adélie Land) situated south of 60°s and between 45° and 160°e, an area of some 6.1 million sq km (2.4 million sq mi), or nearly 40% of the continent. Three scientific and exploratory bases are now in operation: Mawson (established February 1954), Davis (established January 1957), and Casey (established February 1969).

Ashmore and Cartier Islands

The uninhabited, reef-surrounded Ashmore Islands, three in number, and Cartier Island, situated in the Indian Ocean about 480 km (300 mi) north of Broome, Western Australia, have been under Australian authority since May 1934. In July 1938, they were annexed as part of the Northern Territory. Cartier Island is now a marine reserve.

Christmas Island

Situated at 10°30s and 105°40e in the Indian Ocean, directly south of the western tip of Java, Christmas Island is 2,623 km (1,630 mi) northwest of Perth and has an area of about 135 sq km (52 sq mi). Until its annexation by the UK in 1888, following the discovery of phosphate rock, the island was uninhabited. The total estimated population in 2002 was 474, of whom 70% were Chinese and 10% were Malay. The only industry was phosphate extraction. The governments of Australia and New Zealand decided to close the mine in December 1987. Christmas Island was transferred from the UK to Australia on 1 October 1958. Abbott's booby is an endangered species on the island.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a group of coral atolls consisting of 27 islands with a total land area of 14 sq km (5 sq mi) in the Indian Ocean, at 12°5s and 96°53e, about 2,770 km (1,720 mi) northwest of Perth. The estimated population of the two inhabited islands was 632 in 2002. A British possession since 1857, the islands were transferred to Australia in 1955 and are administered by the minister for territories. In 1978, the Australian government bought out the remaining interests (except for personal residences) of the Clunies-Ross heirs on the islands. The climate is pleasant, with moderate rainfall. Principal crops are copra, coconut oil, and coconuts. The airport is a link in a fortnightly service between Australia and South Africa.

Coral Sea Islands

The Coral Sea Islands were declared a territory of Australia in legislation enacted during 1969 and amended slightly in 1973. Spread over a wide ocean area between 10° and 23°30s and 154° and 158°e, the tiny islands are administered by the minister for the Capital Territory and have no permanent inhabitantsalthough there is a manned meteorology station on Willis Island.

Territory of Heard and McDonald Islands

Heard Island, at 53°6s and 72°31 e, about 480 km (300 mi) southeast of the Kerguelen Islands and about 4,000 km (2,500 mi) southwest of Perth, is about 910 sq km (350 sq mi) in size. Bleak and mountainous, it is dominated by a dormant volcano, Big Ben, about 2,740 m (8,990 ft) high. There was a station at Atlas Cove from 1947 to 1955, but the island is now uninhabited and is visited occasionally by scientists. Just north is Shag Island, and 42 km (26 mi) to the west are the small, rocky McDonald Islands. The largest island of the group was visited for the first time, it is believed, on 27 January 1971, by members of the Australian National Antarctic Expedition. The territory was transferred from the UK to Australia at the end of 1947.

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island, at 54°30s and 158°40e, is about 1,600 km (1,000 mi) southeast of Hobart. The rocky, glacial island, 34 km (21 mi) long and about 3 to 5 km (2 to 3 mi) wide, is uninhabited except for a base maintained at the northern end since February 1948. Macquarie Island has been a dependency of Tasmania since the early 19th century. At the most southerly point, the island has what is believed to be the biggest penguin rookery in the world. Two small island groupings are off Macquarie Island: Bishop and Clerk, and Judge and Clerk.

Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island, with an area of 36 sq km (14 sq mi), is situated at 29°3s and 167°57e, 1,676 km (1,041 mi) east-northeast of Sydney. Discovered in 1774 by Capt. James Cook, it was the site of a British penal colony during 17881814 and 182555. In 1856, it was settled by descendants of the Bounty mutineers. As of 2002, the estimated permanent population was 1,866. Transport is almost exclusively by motor vehicle. The soil is fertile and the climate conducive to the growing of fruits and bean seed, as well as the famed Norfolk Island pine. Tourism is also important. As of 2003, endangered species on Norfolk Island included the gray-headed blackbird, Norfolk Island parakeet, the white-breasted silver-eye, the green parrot, the Morepork (Boobook owl), and the Bird of Providence (Providence Petrel). In 1996, Phillip Island was added to the Norfolk Island National Park.


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Commonwealth of Australia

Major Cities:
Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart

Other Cities and Areas:
Alice Springs, Darwin, Fremantle, Geelong, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Tasmania, Wollongong


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated July 1996. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


AUSTRALIA , the land "Down Under," is an island continent about the size of the United States mainland. Geologically, it is one of the oldest continents; in civilization, the most recent. Its 19.2 million people (2000 est.) enjoy a high standard of living in a country which is still in the process of developing its great natural resources.

Australia holds considerable interest and appeal for Americans: its culture, similar to that of the United States; its unique geology, flora, and fauna; its distinctive literature and history; and the striking contrast between the highly civilized foreground of the coastal cities and the outback of the bush. Its climate varies from tropical to temperate, and the contrasts in its landscape are from rolling plain to alpine height.

Australia and the U.S. share common goals and similar approaches to most major foreign policy questions. Their frequent exchanges of views on world affairs in general, and the Asian-Pacific area in particular, are characterized by a high degree of mutual confidence and understanding.



The national capital, Canberra (an aboriginal word meaning "meeting place"), is in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in the southern tablelands of New South Wales. It is 1,900 feet above sea level with much of the surrounding mountainous terrain above 3,000 feet. Built to be the seat of the Federal government, Canberra is one of the most carefully planned and rapidly growing cities in Australia. It is often called the "garden city" because of its millions of trees and shrubs. The city is striving to become the nation's political, administrative, commercial, educational, and scientific hub. It is also a growing tourist center. Its lake, national buildings, parks, and wide avenues attract over 500,000 visitors a year. In the heart of the city is man-made Lake Burley Griffin. Always an integral part of the city's master plan, the lake (11 km long with a 41 km shore line) was completed in 1964. Planned community shopping centers are in each suburb. Modern new buildings attest to the fast growth of the capital.

Wheat and dairy products are produced in the ACT; the surrounding tree-studded upland country is used for the most part for sheep grazing. Development is strictly controlled, and Canberra is affectionately called the "bush capital." To the south are the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric development and Mount Kosciusko (about 7,810 feet), the highest point in Australia. The highlands are timbered mainly with native eucalyptus and radiata pine planted by the Forestry Commission. The Molonglo River flows through Canberra, but much of the city's water supply comes from the Cotter River dam about 12 miles away.

Canberra's climate is sunny year round with only short periods of rain or overcast skies. Summers are warm, with temperatures occasionally above 37°C (98°F), evenings are usually cool. Winters are cold, with early mornings often below freezing but warming up during the day. It almost never snows. January is the hottest month; July the coldest.


There is an excellent range of food products at local markets and stores. Beef, lamb, pork, veal, chicken, fish and shellfish are of good quality and available year round, as are a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products. All types of baby formulas and most canned goods, including baby foods, are available. Some Stateside favorites are unavailable.

There are American-style supermarkets in major shopping areas for one-stop shopping, and in addition smaller grocery/convenience stores are found in each suburb.

There are also butcher shops, news-agents, and markets for fresh fruit and vegetables in many suburbs. No post exchanges, commissaries, or group-purchasing arrangements exist in Australia.


Most clothing needs can be met in Australia, but the range of sizes and choice of styles are not as great as in the USA. Good quality clothing is available but more expensive than in the United States. Department and discount stores stock reasonably priced clothing. Availability of sizes and reduced selection are more a consideration than is price. It is difficult to find shoes in narrow widths, or in extra wide or large sizes.

Men: Dress in Australia is similar to that in Washington, D.C. Many American men wear medium-weight suits of wool or woolen-synthetic mixtures year round. Heavier suits are worn in winter with comfort, particularly in Canberra. Sport coats are also worn. Lighter weight suits are comfortable in summer. Bring a light-to medium-weight top-coat and/or raincoat.

Casual attire is very much the same as in the United States. Track suits are popular. A warm jacket is needed for winter, but there is little need for a heavy parka except for skiing. Hats are needed for sun protection.

Women: Clothing styles are current, and influenced by U.S. and European designs, as well as some excellent Australian designers. Good quality women's clothing is available but more expensive than in the USA, and the selection and size range are more limited. Tall sizes in women's clothes are not widely available but some shops carry petite sizes. Clothing needs are very similar to the USAcasual for the most part, but more formal for office and official events.

Warm clothing is needed for colder months in Canberra. Clothes that can be layered are very useful. Most houses are chilly in winter so bring warm clothes for indoor wear. Many wear wool sweaters; some, thermal underwear. A light to medium-weight coat is sufficient. Australians wear hats of all kinds to protect against the sun in all seasons. A wide range of women's sunhats is available.

Dressmakers are difficult to find as well as expensive. Good quality lingerie is available. Hosiery is available but quality and sizes are different. A wide variety of fabrics are available but fabrics, sewing materials and patterns are also more expensive.

Children: Bring clothing for all seasons, although heavy winter clothing is not necessary unless skiing trips are planned. Snow is a rarity in Canberra, though winter nights are often below freezing.

Most public schools through grade 10 have a school uniform, which children are encouraged to wear. Therefore, a large wardrobe is often not necessary. Sneakers are popular in Australia and are often worn to school. For attendance at private schools, black or brown oxford-type lace-up shoes are required; they may be purchased locally. Almost all private schools require students to wear the school uniform, which for older students often includes blazer (or suit) and tie in winter. After school clothing is much the same as is worn in the U.S. Jeans are popular but the name brands are expensive, so bring a supply.

Clothing for infants and preschool children is available, and at reasonable prices in the larger stores. Some U.S. brands are stocked but are expensive.

Supplies and Services

Some American-brand cosmetics, including Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, Lancome, Clinique, and Helena Rubenstein, are sold locally but are expensive. Paper products are available (albeit expensive), and the range is much greater than a few years ago. Table and bed linens are available in a limited range, sizes are slightly different, and high quality items are more expensive. Personal items for men, such as shaving supplies, etc., are sold locally; this includes several makes of electric razors. (If you bring an electric razor from the U.S., make sure it will run satisfactorily on the local current.)

Bring all needed baby furniture if practicable. Items such as bassinets, playpens, cribs, carriages, and high chairs are available but more expensive than in the U.S., as are large outdoor and indoor toys and play items.

Laundry and dry cleaning services are good. Dry cleaning services vary from 1 day to 1 week; 60-minute dry cleaners are also available. Coin-operated laundromats are available, and a few of these include coin-operated dry cleaning equipment.

Hair salon services are good, but hair dye colors are not the same even though they include name brands. Bring your own or have someone send from the U.S.

Religious Activities

Most faiths are represented in Canberra.


Australian schools are a blend of British and American systems. The school year is the reverse of that in the U.S. It usually starts at the beginning of February and closes for a 6-8 week summer vacation in early to mid-December. There are short breaks of approximately 2 weeks at the end of each term in March/April, June/July and September/October.

Grade placement for children transferring from the Northern Hemisphere can sometimes be a problem. Each family and school assess each student individually, with placement related to the age of the student, and academic level. Some will advance half a grade, others will stay on in the same grade as in the USA. It is important to hand-carry up-to-date school records.

Australian schools through the secondary level fall into two broad categories: government-funded and operated public schools and private schools.

Public Schools: Schools are located in most suburbs of the city. In Canberra, children attend Preschool at age four, Primary School for Kindergarten through Year 6, and transfer to High School for Years 7 through 10. Students in Years 11 and 12 attend secondary colleges. Education is compulsory through age 15, but most students continue through Year 12. One secondary college in Canberra offers the international baccalaureate program for those students who are academically talented.

All five year olds and children turning five on or before April 30 in any year, enroll in Kindergarten at the beginning of that school year in early February. Public schools request a small parent contribution to cover the cost of special resources, sporting equipment and library books. Many primary schools in the ACT offer before and after school care.

Uniforms are not compulsory in public schools but most primary schools have a uniform and actively encourage students to wear it. High schools have a dress color code. All public schools are coeducational and nonselective.

Private Schools: Most private schools are church-sponsored by either the Catholic or the Anglican Church of Australia, although membership in the sponsoring church is not a requirement for admission. It can be difficult to enroll children in private schools, as waiting lists may be long. Some private-school fees are expensive; however the educational allowance is adequate to cover most costs. Some of the private schools provide educational facilities from kindergarten through grade 12, others follow a structure similar to that of the public schools.

Testing: In some states, teachers rely heavily on examinations to grade students. In the ACT, Year 10 and Year 12 Certificates depend on a system of continuing assessment of student progress, including performance, tests, and written work. In addition, Year 12 students who study a certain quota of accredited courses and pass the Australian Scaling Test (AST) receive a Tertiary Entrance Statement which is recognized for entrance to tertiary institutions.

The U.S. College Board achievement tests can be taken in Australia. In Canberra, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Achievement Tests are usually given twice a year.

Preschool: Preschool facilities, both privately run and government-sponsored, are available in most areas for four-year olds. The public preschools are generally located near the primary schools but operate separately with some parental help. There are Montessori, Steiner, French-Australian and Chinese-Australian preschools. In some areas there is a waiting list for pre-school admission, especially in private schools. Play-groups are plentiful for children under 4 years.

Special Education: Canberra has several schools for children with special educational needs from preschool through high school. Alternatively, students may be enrolled in small units attached to regular schools, or they may be mainstreamed. All public schools have some provision for needs of children with special skills and abilities as well as for children with learning or behavioral difficulties.

Higher education opportunities. There are two universities in Canberrathe Australian National University (ANU), an internationally recognized institution with a strong research orientation and large graduate program, and the University of Canberra (UC), with a full range of professional degree programs, including teacher and nursing degrees. Entry to both is competitive, but overseas students are accepted subject to satisfactory academic qualifications and availability of places. At present, both universities require U.S. educated students to have a U.S. High School diploma and a minimum of 1050 to 1100 in SAT scores, with much higher scores for entry to some degree courses. No "subsidized" fees exist for overseas students as for Australian students. Books, room and board are extra. Books, including school textbooks, are expensive.

Further educational opportunities are available through the Canberra Institute of Technology, which is a large multi-campus provider of a wide range of tertiary education and training courses. The CIT is part of the Australian TAFE (Tertiary and Further Education) system which is government-funded and provides vocational education and training programs to persons in the workforce, those who left school and members of the community. CIT offers more than 300 courses from certificate to diploma, through nine teaching schools. Fees vary by course. CIT opened a new hotel-management school in 1995, run in conjunction with Cornell University of New York. Planned to be a world-class provider, fees are substantially higher than regular CIT course programs.

Non-degree or diploma-level instruction is available in many subjectsthrough the Technical and Further Education Program at CIT, the Centre for Continuing Education at the ANU and many local secondary colleges. Costs are reasonable. Sports, computer training, arts, crafts, business courses, languages and homemaking skills are among the many subjects covered. Both evening and day instruction is available.

Recreation and Social Life

Once considered the "bush capital," Canberra is now a thriving, cosmopolitan city without the traffic, pollution and major crime problems of many larger cities. It has been well planned, has excellent recreational amenities, and is becoming a significant stop for international tourists. There are frequent festivals, fairs, and exhibitions, the Royal Canberra show, a thriving symphony orchestra and philharmonic society, and frequent touring companies. The Floriade festival in September/October is becoming recognized internationally.


Canberra is a very sports-minded city. Cricket, football, tennis, golf, swimming, and bowls are all popular. Also available are ice and field hockey, basketball, ballooning, rifle shooting, softball, horse riding, volleyball, cycling, fishing, ice skating, skiing, croquet, polo, squash, baseball, bushwalking (hiking), rowing, sailing, and soccer. Five versions of football are playedrugby league, Australian rules, rugby union, soccer and gridiron (American) football. The Canberra Raiders Rugby League team has a place in local culture similar to the Washington Redskins, and won the National Competition in 1994.

Dress for the various sports is similar to that in the U.S. and quality sports equipment is available but at higher-than-U.S. prices. Children's bicycles and sports items are available.

There are several public golf courses available as well as clubs that offer membership privileges.

Tennis, mostly hard court, is popular. Limited numbers of public courts are available but small clubs are inexpensive to join. Squash courts are also available.

The Australian Institute of Sport (A.I.S.) in Bruce is a world-class training facility with residential programs for athletes of many sports. Indoor and outdoor stadiums are located there and their swimming and other facilities are available for some public use.

Lake Burley Griffin in the center of the city is the focus of many water activities. There are several sailing clubs with races held each Saturday and Sunday during summer. The rowing clubs participate in regular rowing regattas, and dragon boat races have become a popular annual event for amateur teams. A tourist boat regularly provides cruises around the lakesome with meals. Powerboats are not permitted on the lake.

Some streams are stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Lake Burley Griffin is stocked annually with both species, which may be taken only with a line and rod. Good ocean fishing is available on the south coast of New South Wales, about 100 miles from Canberra. A fishing license is not necessary in the Territory or in New South Wales but both size restrictions and bag limits apply.

Swimmers have a choice of a number of pools in the city (indoor and outdoor) and a number of natural pools on rivers outside the city. Most offer swim lessons for children. Canberra is a 2-hour drive from the ocean and good, if chilly, surf beaches.

Most school children join one or more of the many sports clubs operating for children, which practice once or twice weekly, and compete on weekends. In addition the YMCA and YWCA cater to children 8 years of age and older. Activities include basketball, volleyball, squash, judo, trampoline, gymnastics, yoga, etc. Also active are various church groups, scouts, girl guides, and the Canberra Police and Citizen's Youth Clubs.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The Canberra area has a wide range of options for every member of the family. In the city, the major sites include the new and old Parliament Houses, the High Court, Questacon (the Science and Technology Centre), the National Gallery of Australia, the War Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Royal Australian Mint, the Australian National Library, and Regatta Pointa display center to explain Canberra's planned development. Also close by are a Dinosaur Museum, the National Aquarium and Australian Wildlife Sanctuary, the National Museum, Cockington Green (a miniature English village) and a number of other tourist attractions.

For those who like the outdoor life, there is Namadgi National Park plus many nature reserves and recreation areas for bush-walking, bird-watching, camping and barbecues. The Tidbinbilla game reserve, the NASA tracking station and a dry alpine slide are each about 45-minutes drive from Canberra. Many picnic spots with facilities at lake-side areas are available, as well as picnic grounds in the city, often equipped with free electric grills or firewood. There are also about 10 wineries to visit near the city. The only real problem with outdoor activities is the large number of flies in summer months, which can be bothersome.

There are many seaside resorts on the coast, 100-200 miles from Canberra, which are accessible by paved road. The beaches are beautiful and the drive, scenic. Accommodations are heavily booked during summer holidays.

Good skiing at about five resorts, as well as on cross-country trails, is available about 100-130 miles from Canberra in the Snowy Mountains. The ski season tends to be short. Equipment can be hired in Canberra, Cooma or at the ski resorts. The Snowy Mountains, location of the large Snowy Mountain hydro-electric development, is also an attractive area for summer recreation with camping, picnic and fishing areas, water sports, a llama farm, riding (both day or longer trail-rides) and other activities.


Except for opera, for which it is necessary to go to Sydney or Melbourne, it is possible to enjoy a wide range of cultural activities in Canberra very easily and relatively inexpensively. The Canberra Theatre Center, which has a theater seating 1,200 and a smaller playhouse, sponsors a full range of live theater with both local and touring companies and performers. The Canberra Repertory Group is one of several groups producing high-quality plays. The Canberra Symphony Orchestra and Musica Viva arrange a number of subscription concerts annually. Active music clubs and a number of other societies offer a wide variety of cultural and intellectual programs. The Canberra School of Music presents a number of concerts and recitals of near-professional caliber in Llewellyn Hall. Movie theaters show American, British, Australian, and continental films. Movie theater tickets are more expensive than the U.S.

Canberra has a casino, and a few nightclubs together with several discos and restaurants with live entertainment/dancing. There are more than 300 restaurants providing a wide range of ethnic cuisines. In addition, most Canberrans belong to social or sporting clubs which provide inexpensive restaurants for members as well as recreational facilities and slot/poker machine gambling.

Social Activities

Most social and official occasions enable Americans to mix freely with Australians. Americans residing in Canberra include US Government employees and their families, research fellows at ANU, American spouses of Australian officials, and business representatives. Spouses of the Embassy's American personnel meet regularly and the Australian American Association has a range of events. Canberra's social life varies with the wishes of the individual. Active, outgoing individuals find little effort is required to be accepted by Australians or American coworkers. Living in Canberra is similar to living and working in any modern, Western city.


Brisbane, with a population of about 1.6 million (1999 est.), is the capital of Queensland. It is 13 miles from the coast and 80 miles north of the New South Wales border. Situated on the Brisbane River, it is virtually at sea level and the city area covers 471 square miles.

Brisbane is surrounded by hills and nestled near beautiful Moreton Bay. The landscape rises from the river banks through hilly suburbs and on to the 3,000 foot peaks of mountain ranges less than 30 miles away. Ten miles of meandering river, parks and gardens and a unique blend of historical buildings and sophisticated architecture combine to create the charm that is Brisbane.

Brisbane was first settled in 1823 and has been the capital of Queensland since the foundation of the State in 1859. In the last ten years the city has developed rapidly and is now an attractive, modern urban center of over one million people. The city's population remains predominantly of British origin. However, the non-Anglo Saxon group has grown considerably since World War II as a result of the Australian immigration program. It includes Dutch, Italians, Greeks, Germans, East Europeans, Chinese and Vietnamese. Approximately 9,000 Americans also live in Queensland, most of those in the south east corner of the State in and around Brisbane. A large number of these are ex-servicemen who married Australians during World War II.

During the last decade, the face of Brisbane has changed markedly. There is the new Queen Street Shopping Mall, the new Queensland Cultural Centre Complex, State Library and Museum and a host of new international hotels.

Brisbane's other main advantage is as a gateway to Australia's popular tourist playgrounds in the sun, on the beach (not more than 2 hours drive to the north or south), in the tropical rainforest hinterland and agricultural farms. Brisbane is 483km (300 miles) south of the Tropic of Capricorn and 22 km (13 miles) up the Brisbane River from the Pacific Coast at Moreton Bay.

A number of U.S. business firms are locating in Queensland bringing engineers, technicians and supervisory personnel. The number of American tourists coming to the State continues to increase with the introduction of discount airfares on the Pacific routes and the attraction of the Great Barrier Reef, the beaches and the Australian out-back. Queensland has three international airports at Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns.

Queensland boasts a subtropical climate and is one of Australia's sunniest capitals enjoying an average of 7.5 hours of sunshine a day.

Summer: September-MayAverage temperature ranges from 66°F to 86°F.

Winter: June-AugustAverage temperature ranges from 42°F to 66°F.

Queensland has summer rainfall and dry winters. Many of the older homes are well designed to be cool in summer and do not need air-conditioning. As there is also usually no central heating, these houses can be quite chilly during the short winter.


As Queensland winters are short and fairly mild, dress appropriate for a Washington, D.C., spring/summer/fall will be appropriate year round for Queensland.

Supplies and Services

City Shopping: The main shopping streets in the city are the grid formed by Elizabeth, Queen and Ann Streets crossed by Edward, Albert and George Streets. The Queen Street Mall is located between Edward and George Streets and is the city heart for commerce, busy shoppers and workers. It features an information booth, outdoor restaurants, shaded seating and plenty of places to rest. Several large department stores in the city area offer most goods found in US department stores.

Suburban Shopping: Spacious drive-in suburban shopping complexes offer convenient air-conditioned shopping, including large supermarkets, clothing, electrical, and hardware stores, coffeeshops and delicatessens.

General Shopping Hours: In the city8.15 am to 5 pm except on Fridays 8.15 am to 9 pm; Saturdays 8.15 am to 4 pm; on Sundays many (but not all) shops in the downtown area are open 9 am to 4 pm. In the suburbs8.15 am to 5 pm except on Thursdays 8.15 am to 9 pm and Saturdays 8.15 am to 4 pm. Most larger stores are now open until 9 pm on weekdays.

Some small suburban "corner" stores have flexible hours and open from 7 am to 7 pm and often later. There are day and night chemists (drugstores) in the city and in most suburban districts.


The transport system in Brisbane is reasonably efficient with regular bus, train and ferry services. Taxis are also readily available for hire.


State schools are considered very good at the elementary levels; some state high schools are also considered good. Students who have come from US schools with high academic standards may be advised to move ahead one grade in Queensland schools.

Churches play an important part in education in Brisbane and run most of the private schools.

School uniforms are generally worn at all junior schools, however they are not compulsory. The high schools normally require students to wear a uniform.

School holidays are of approximately 2 weeks duration with 6 weeks in December to January. Because of the school calendar, many families arriving from the northern hemisphere find a December/January transfer convenient.


Brisbane's Queensland Cultural Centre is situated on the south bank of the Brisbane River and was completed in 1988. The complex houses the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Museum, the State Library of Queensland and the Performing Arts Complex. The latter has a Concert Hall and Lyric Theatre each with seating for 2,000 people. The Brisbane Entertainment Centre, which opened in 1986, has seating for 13,000.

Because of the presence of both the Queensland Cultural Centre and the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, touring groups of international repute increasingly include Brisbane on their Australian schedules, including ballet, opera, chamber groups, larger ensembles and popular music groups. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra gives regular concerts and has internationally known guest stars. Live theatre is very popular in Brisbane and the Queensland Theatre Company performs first class productions regularly.

Many larger concerts and shows are held at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall, some 30 minutes drive from the center of the city, which can seat approximately. 13,000 people.

Restaurants: Brisbane restaurants are many and varied, ranging from large international class to small ethnic cuisine restaurants. Queensland's seafood and tropical fruits are a major feature in many restaurants.

Tipping: Tipping is not compulsory in Queensland, nor is it a widespread practice. It is usual, however, to tip hotel porters, restaurant service and taxi drivers if they have helped with luggage.

Radio/Television: For home entertainment, national and commercial radio networks offer a variety of programs. Five all-color TV stations, including one noncommercial channel, broadcast a mixture of US, BBC and Australian programs. The fifth channel offers a wide range of multi-cultural programs. The TV system is PAL and is not compatible with the U.S. system.

Library: The State Library of Queensland consists of a reasonably well-stocked central library housed in the Queensland Cultural Centre, with several suburban branches. The Brisbane City Council also offers a well-stocked library to Brisbane residents, with branches in many suburbs.


Brisbane's mild climate is extremely favorable for all forms of sporting pastimes and special events.

Australia's favorite sportscricket, Rugby Union, Rugby League and Australian Rules footballare all readily available in Brisbane.

In the city, tennis, golf, squash, cricket, badminton, bowling, lawn bowls, rugby, soccer, baseball, swimming, and flying are available. Deep sea and surf fishing are popular throughout the State, and the Great Barrier Reef provides spectacular snorkeling and scuba diving. Water skiing and small boating are popular on the Brisbane River and inland lakes. Sailing and rowing competitions and regattas are held on the river and big boat enthusiasts may cruise the beaches of nearby Moreton Bay or the Pacific Ocean.

Camping or hiking (bushwalking) can be enjoyed in the rainforests or on the Darling Downs about 2 hours from Brisbane. There are camping sites with full facilities in all the National Parks in Queensland.

Waterfowl shooting in the Brisbane Valley is popular with hunters. Brisbane has an artificial ice skating rink, but skiing and other winter sports are not available.

Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast is only one and a half hours drive south from the city and offers miles of golden beaches, good surfing, water slides, fun attractions, shopping and restaurants.

One hour to the north, the Sunshine Coast offers quieter relaxation on equally beautiful beaches.

Horse racing is well catered for in Brisbane and there are regular trotting and greyhound racing meetings.

Most sporting equipment is available in Brisbane. Depending upon quality preferred, it may be expensive. Bring an initial supply with you. No particular taboos or special requirements exist for sports attire except that whites are required for lawn bowls and cricket.

As Brisbane was host to the Commonwealth Games in 1982, special sporting facilities were built such as the covered Chandler Swimming & Sports Centre and the QE II Sports Stadium.

Social Activities

Business and sporting clubs and organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce, State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rotary, Lions and the Australian-American Association offer excellent points of contact.


Melbourne is the capital city of the State of Victoria at the southeastern corner of the Australian continent and has a population of approximately 3.4 million (1999 est). The city sprawls on gently rolling terrain on the shores of Port Phillip Bay about 50 miles from the ocean. It is bisected by the Yarra River.

Melbourne's latitude of about 38 degrees south corresponds to that of Washington, D.C., and San Francisco; but the climate is more changeable, with warm days and cool nights. Although temperatures rarely drop below freezing, cold evenings and morning frosts do occur in the winter months. The usual summer pattern is a week of gradually rising temperatures culminating in a few hot days suddenly broken by the "cool change", which drops the temperature sharply and starts the cycle all over again. At any time of year the climate is highly changeable with rain, sunshine, heat, and cold sometimes all occurring in the same day. Because of the mild but variable climate, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania are well suited for a wide range of flowers and trees that bloom all year round. South Australia and Victoria are noted for their good wines. All three states are rich farming and livestock-producing areas. Victoria, and especially Melbourne and its nearby districts, is a major industrial area. There are several other important industrial areas in South Australia.

Melbourne is a major port city and rail hub, as well as a major center of industry, business, and finance. Its parks are magnificent, its streets are ample, and it is an easy city to get acquainted with and in which to move around. Because of its size and given the high number of cars per capita in Australia, traffic is a growing problem.

The center of the city, however, has numerous car parks and the local transportation system of trains, trams, and buses is extensive. Taxicabs are clean, reliable, and easy to obtain.

The city has an impressive skyline. A recent construction boom resulted in a large increase in modern office and apartment buildings in the 15 to 50-floor category.

Australia's post World War II program of immigration has brought to Melbourne many "new Australians" from western and southern European countries. These have injected a continental influence that is noticeable in many ways in delicatessens, restaurants, shops, sports, music and cultural programs, as well as in the frequency with which foreign languages are heard.

Since the late 1960's there also has been a substantial influx of Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Lao and Indonesians which has broadened the city's ethnic and cultural base even further.

Nearly 75 percent of the approximately 20,000 Americans in the consular district are located in the Melbourne metropolitan area, with the rest scattered throughout the district.


In Melbourne there are many supermarkets comparable to U.S. stores, such as Safeway. Imported items from the U.S. and Europe are available, but at higher prices than in the U.S. In addition, because of the large foreign population in Melbourne, there is an immense variety of delicatessens, butchers, and green-grocers specializing in Italian, Greek, Eastern European and Asian produce. Also some neighborhoods have country-style markets which are open several days a week. The largest, the Victoria market, sells everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to live chickens and sides of beef and lamb. Local seafood is excellent and varied, including good fish, oysters and crustaceans. The large saltwater crayfish, known as "rock-lobster" in the U.S. is very expensive but worth it.

Many supermarkets such as Safe-way are open until midnight, but there are several Coles supermarkets operating 24 hours a day. Smaller supermarkets may close around 7 pm. Almost all stores close at 5 pm on Saturdays. City Center shops are open Sunday 10 am-5 pm. "Milkbars" usually exist in the small neighborhood areas. Not only milk, but also other dairy products and "emergency" food items are available at these small stores all weekend. Some grocery stores and butchers will take telephone orders and deliver either free or for a very small charge. For large shopping orders, there is a "half case" outlet next to the parking lot at Prahran Market just off Chapel Street and Malvern Road (see Melway). Similar stores exist in various suburbs; these are listed in the Melbourne telephone directory.


The school year in the state of Victoria runs from late January or early February through early December. The year is divided into four terms with two to three week intervals between terms. The first term ends about Easter, and the other breaks are usually in late June and early October.

In Melbourne most American children attend private nondenominational or church-related schools which are generally considered to be academically superior to the public schools (known in Australia as "state schools"). There is a great variety of these schools, but most American students have attended only a few of these. Sometimes pre-admission examinations are required, but most schools reserve a number of places for the children of temporary consular or business residents, who are admitted without any special formalities. Admission, which depends on the child's scholastic record and existing vacancies in various grades, is most easily obtainable at the beginning of the school year in late January or February.

Students at most private schools wear school uniforms. A substantial initial outlay of approximately 300 U.S. dollars is usually needed to equip a child with the school basics, including regulation shoes, blazers, ties, socks, and gym equipment.

Differences between the American and Australian educational systems are most pronounced at the secondary level, particularly in the last two years of high school. Subjects are roughly comparable up until year ten, although there is probably a smaller choice of subjects in Australian schools.

At least two high schools and a small number of private schools in Melbourne have introduced the international baccalaureate, an internationally recognized high school diploma equivalent to most European secondary school leaving certificates. The international baccalaureate usually requires students to pursue a rigorous course of study in a number of academic areas. Many American universities grant advanced standing to students who obtain the international baccalaureate.

Recently the state of Victoria introduced a new high school diploma which requires students to follow a special course of study in both years 11 and 12. It is known as the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and is being introduced over a period of years beginning in 1990. A controversial issue with many secondary and university educators in Australia, the VCE was introduced to allow more flexibility in subject matter for students in the last two years of high school. In addition to the regular course of study, it requires students to undertake a number of independent study projects, which are graded within the high school; but there is also a major external examination which students take upon completion of year 12 to obtain the VCE.

It should be emphasized that the VCE is intended to comprise a two-year study unit in years 11 and 12. Therefore, students planning to attend high school in Melbourne in either of these two years would be well advised to obtain specific information from the schools of their choice regarding their special circumstances.

A good grade in the VCE and good high school grades would normally enable a student to gain admission to most American universities.


Clothing prices in Australia are high by U.S. standards.

No matter when one arrives in Melbourne there is always the question of what weight clothes to put onand by the time a decision is reached, the weather has changed completely! Generally speaking, the sweater, light coat or jacket which can be removed is a successful formula, whether it is winter, spring or autumn. Even in the summer either a long-sleeved cotton or a sleeveless dress with light sweater or short-sleeved jacket will be useful.

In the winter months (June-August), skiing is possible about 160 miles from Melbourne, so some "winter" clothing would be appropriate to wear for weekends on the slopes or just looking.

Melbourne has been known to experience all four seasons in one day. There is quite a lot of wind most of the year. In summer, Melbourne has a typical Mediterranean climate, except that the summer is as changeable as the rest of the year, so that hot weather alternates after four or five days with a cool change, and then back again. The following is a rough estimate of temperatures (in degrees Fahrenheit):

  • WinterJune 21st through September 21. Daytime averages 57 degrees, nights in low 40's, rarely down to 32 degrees (if so, only for an hour or so); considerable rain and wind, no snow.
  • SpringSeptember 22nd through December 21. Weather very changeable with some beautiful days about 75 to 80 degrees then a spell of colder weather again; daytime average 67 degrees; can be windy.
  • SummerDecember 22 through March 21. A few hot days around 100 degrees with sudden changes to moderate weather. Nights generally cooler. Daytime average 77 degrees; breezes.
  • AutumnMarch 22 to June 21. Best weather; not much wind; average daytime 65 to 70 degrees. Nights around 60 degrees.

(These dates are obviously the reverse of seasons in the Northern Hemisphere which seems to be more easily understandable and logical to North Americans; the Australians tend to use the beginnings of the respective months, rather than the 21st in referring to their seasons.)


Australians are outdoor sports enthusiasts and Australia is noted for fielding "world class" sports teams. In Melbourne, golf and tennis are the most popular participant sports and are played year round. Sailing, swimming, fishing, surfing, and skin-diving are also popular. Good ski slopes abound in the mountains about 160 miles east of Melbourne. Australian-rules football is a spectacle which attracts huge crowds in the winter season, as does cricket in the summer. Soccer is increasing in popularity with the influx of "new Australians" from European countries. There is a growing national professional basketball association (similar to the American NBA) and amateur basketball and baseball are played at schools or various club organizations. Melbourne has both private and public golf courses and the best of these, such as the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, are among the world's finest.

Sports equipment of all kinds is available locally, including many well-known brands from England, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. The broad range of different types of equipment makes it difficult to compare local and U.S. prices, but most sporting goods, including golf carts and tennis gear, are much cheaper in the U.S.

Tennis clubs are numerous and excellent; both grass and composition courts are available. Some tennis clubs admit children. There are several yacht clubs on Port Phillip Bay.

Deep sea, lake and river fishing are possible in this vast consular district. Small boats may be chartered in Melbourne or the suburbs for any type of fishing. Trout fishing is especially good in Tasmania. Hunting (or "shooting" as it is called in Australia) of ducks, birds, and some animals is possible in many areas. Target shooting can be arranged through one of the various rifle clubs.

Australian regulations no longer allow the importation of firearms of any sort.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

There are many one or two-day trips to be made near Melbourne. Plans, maps and general tourist information for short or long tours may be obtained from the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), which provides road and other services for its members similar to those provided by the American Automobile Association, and from Victour.

We also recommend Blair's Guide to Victoria.

Roads outside the major cities are generally two-lane and are well maintained and provided with services such as wayside stops and gas stations.

Among the outstanding attractions in Melbourne are the attractively landscaped Royal Botanical Gardens. Because of the climate here, all tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zone trees, plants and flowers can be grown. Most are informatively labelled. The National Gallery, part of Melbourne's new Arts Center, has a choice Far Eastern collection, as well as splendid representation from other parts of the world. There is an excellent group of Australian Impressionist paintings. The several National Trust Houses in and around Melbourne are well worth a visit. The National Museum has an excellent scientific collection.

In addition to a well-stocked zoo in Melbourne where one can find a good section of Australian fauna, as well as new and imaginative areas being built for animals from all over the world, there is an excellent wild-life sanctuary at Healesville about 40 miles northeast of Melbourne in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. There one can see the shy lyre bird, emus, wombats, and opossums, walk among tame kangaroos and wallabies, see koala at close range, and watch the duck-billed platypus in a specially-constructed tank.

Taking the back road to Healesville one can get a splendid overall panorama of Melbourne from Kangaroo Ground War Memorial Tower, just 10 miles north of the City. (For kangaroo viewing go on to Sir Colin Mackenzie Sanctuary at Healesville referred to above.)

Phillip Island, about 85 miles southeast of Melbourne, is a popular summer resort where seals, fairy penguins, koalas and other wildlife can be seen in their natural habitat. Many people make at least one overnight trip to watch the fairy penguins march in from the sea at dusk.

The Dandenong Ranges, about 20 miles east of Melbourne are attractive to explore on short day trips. Gippsland, an area of wooded hills and rolling dairy country beginning just southeast of Melbourne, is relatively little-known as a tourist attraction, but drives through this nearby area provide many opportunities to see flora and fauna of Victoria in its natural state.

Further to the southeast, about 150 miles, is Wilson's Promontory, the southern extremity of the Australian mainland. It comprises 116,000 acres of National Park which makes an ideal spot for walkers and swimmers. Flats and lodges of varying bed capacities are also available for hire at Tidal River within the Promontory. Arrangements for the rental of these accommodations are made through Tourism Victoria. There are also several small towns nearby where one can find adequate motel accommodations.

Facilities for campers with tent or trailer are good in all populated areas of Australia. Most campsites have toilet and shower blocks with hot water and laundry facilities. Trailers can be rented on the spot as well. Skin divers will find ample opportunity to pursue their hobby. To recapture the flavor of the gold rush era, day trips are possible to Ballarat and Bendigo, two old Victorian mining towns an hour's drive west and northwest of Melbourne, respectively.

The beaches inside Port Phillip Bay run over 50 miles from Melbourne down the Mornington Peninsula; the nearest ocean surf beaches are just outside the Bay about 1 1/2 hours' drive. The drive along the Peninsula, inside or out, is quite lovely with varied views. Sharks do appear along some of these beaches, but are less of a problem here than elsewhere in Australia. Many of the more popular public beaches have "shark watch" personnel as well as lifeguards on duty.

An interesting day or weekend trip by car by to Lake Eildon, about 90 miles northeast of Melbourne. This is Victoria's biggest man-made lake which was built to irrigate a vast area of northern Victoria, reaching as far as the Murray River. Set in the Upper Goulburn River Valley, Lake Eildon has an area of 50 square miles and picturesque 320-mile shoreline. It is ideal for water sports. Houseboats can be rented for a weekend or longer for great family vacations. In this area there is also a chance to see native wildlife.

Auto trips to the Australian Alps to see the Snowy Mountain hydroelectric power project take about six hours and good overnight accommodation is available.

The Great Ocean Road along the southern coast of Victoria to the west is a delightful way to get to South Australia. Special scenic attractions are the "Twelve Apostles" and Loch Ard Gorge, stark rock formations set in the midst of surging tides. Inland from the cliffs and beaches are the rain forests of the Otway Range with their tall, stringy-bark eucalyptus trees and tree ferns. Over the South Australian state border are volcanic lakes, limestone caves with recent exciting finds of extinct marsupial lions and giant kangaroos. The inland marshes are full of black swans, egrets and ducks. Further to the north, Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is a beautiful city set in an amphitheater of wooded hills. The new music and art center is the focus for the Adelaide Festival which attracts talent from all over the world.

Returning from Adelaide, or a special trip on its own, a stop in the Grampians, low ranges of rocky mountains in Western Victoria, is especially worthwhile during springtime when there is a vast array of wildflowers carpeting the area.


Melbourne has many theaters whose productions include many musicals and plays from Broadway and London, sometimes with imported casts or stars, but more often with excellent local talent. There are also several repertory companies which present regular seasons runs up to five or six weeks for each play. The Victorian Arts Centre has lavish facilities for concerts, theater, opera and dance on a par with the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers.

Melbourne has an excellent symphony orchestra with a regular season. There are also several music societies which regularly present good opera, ballet and symphony concerts. The Melbourne Arts Festival, modeled after Italy's Spoleto Festival, takes place in September. In addition, many times during the year there are visiting orchestras, chamber music groups and soloists. A series of outdoor "Music for the People" concerts is given by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in the summer months at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Top jazz, rock and roll, and country and western bands from the U.S. and Europe perform regularly.

Several film societies present old and new films on a monthly basis. Some have special film festivals of a week or so duration. Also, special programs featuring returns of old favorites are very popular. This is, of course, in addition to the usual run of contemporary films presented on a public basis throughout all of Greater Melbourne. There is a Melbourne Film Festival in May with films from all over the world.

In Melbourne there are five TV stations; many AM and several FM radio stations. Classical music and news programs are available throughout the day and evening as well as the usual "top ten" tunes.

The Melbourne Cup horse race in November is considered to be Australia's outstanding race meeting of the year and is a major holiday and social event. The Davis Cup playoffs or finals often are held in Melbourne in December. The Australian Tennis Open is held in January. The Royal Agricultural Show is held in September. The annual Moomba carnival, celebrated each year in March, is sponsored by the City of Melbourne, with many varied exhibitions during a week-long program. Memorial events include observance of the battle of the Coral Sea in May and ANZAC Day in April.

Social Activities

Social activities vary according to responsibilities, desires and opportunities within a personal or family pattern.

The Australian-American Association (AAA)Its aim is to promote close ties between Australians and Americans. Coral Sea Week (now known as Australia-America Week) has been celebrated together for many years, either at balls, dinners, luncheons or all-day picnics. Other occasions follow a similar pattern.

The American Club of VictoriaIts principal purpose is to mark the main American holidays. It organizes for its members a Memorial Day Service at a church followed by a reception at the Consul General's residence. For Americans and their Australian guests, the Club arranges a Thanksgiving Dinner at a local hotel.

The American Women's Auxiliary to the Royal Children's HospitalIts main objective is the raising of funds to support a ward, and to help pay for materials and equipment, in the Hospital. Members may also do volunteer work in the hospital canteen or with the children themselves. The Club also serves as a welcoming group for Americans coming into the community, particularly American businessmen's wives.

The Auxiliary is open primarily to women of the Consulate General. The main social activities of this group are monthly luncheons with speakers, a rummage sale once a year and a Fourth of July Ball (usually held on the 5th).

There are men's clubs in and around Melbourne; some offer honorary memberships. There are the usual service clubs for men as well.

Some Americans have joined the American Branch of the Australian Red Cross and some participate in the activities of the English Speaking Union. Melbourne also has Rotary, Lions, Toastmaster, Kiwanis, and Apex Clubs.


Perth, with a population of about 1,364,000 (1999 est.), is the capital of Western Australia, the largest of the Australian States.

Perth entered into a stage of modern development during the economic expansion of the 1960s and early 1970s. Prior to then, Perth was one of the most isolated cities in the world, separated even from Australia's Federal capital by more than 2,100 miles. Road, rail, ship, and air services now provide a constant and quick interstate and international link. Modern communications and technology provide the instantaneous information demanded by a modern community.

Foreign capital, much of it from Japan, China, South East Asia, and the U.S., is spurring this economic growth and Perth has become a commercial and industrial complex in its own right. Perth's function as an administrative center for the vast hinterland remains all-important.

Perth is an attractive, modern city in the midst of residential expansion. Large areas of natural bush have been bulldozed to meet the demands of growth, and freeways connect the towering office blocks of the central business district and the suburbs. Flanked by thousands of new homes, roads and highways radiate out from the city center. Attractive residential areas front the Swan River and the Indian Ocean.

White, sandy beaches are accessible from most parts of Perth.

All the consumer goods and the modern comforts of life are available in Perth, but they are expensive. Many goods are manufactured in the eastern States and reflect the high cross-country transport costs.

U.S. firms are well represented through branch offices, subsidiary companies and agencies. Their interest is primarily in the oil and gas, and alumina mining areas. Approximately 7,000 Americans live in Western Australia.

Perth has one of the best climates in Australia. It is the sunniest of the State capitals, receiving an average of 8 hours sunshine a day. It has the wettest winters and the driest summers, with an average rainfall of 33 inches. Temperatures average about 73°F in summer and about 55°F in winter. In summer a number of days of above 100°F temperatures are to be expected, but low humidity and evening sea breezes make most summer nights comfortable. With winter rainfall and a lack of central heating, winter can feel chilly.


Perth supermarkets are similar to their U.S. counterparts and are stocked with most varieties of foodstuffs required by the American consumer. Meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables are plentiful and reasonably priced. Paper products and cleaning supplies are expensive.


Perth is a relaxed city and clothing is similar to that of southern California. Sundresses, slacks, jeans, T-shirts, and shorts are all in evidence as are smart luncheon dresses, tailored suits, and, sometimes, hats. For work most men still wear coat and tie, even in hot weather. Evening attire is similarly varied, ranging from long gowns to short cocktail dresses.

Perth has a budding fashion industry. Clothing of all types, including many international brands, are available in Perth stores; however, the cost is greater and the selection smaller than in the U.S. The same is true for underwear and children's clothing.

Supplies and Services

Several large department stores in the downtown business district offer most goods found in U.S. department stores. Also, spacious suburban centers offer convenient shopping in air-conditioned malls. These shopping centers and downtown stores close at 5 pm on week-nights and Saturday, except Thursdays, on which there is "late-night shopping" until 9 pm. The downtown mall and larger suburban centers are open on Sundays. Convenience stores stay open longer but charge higher prices.

Stores are well stocked. With the growth of the State's population, more goods are being produced in western Australia instead of being shipped from eastern Australia or overseas. Consumer prices in Perth are higher than for the eastern U.S. and higher than the U.S. average.

Religious Activities

Religion in Perth is predominantly Christian. Of the population, 26 percent are Anglican, 25 percent Roman Catholic, and 5 percent Uniting. All churches hold regular services and Sunday school and offer religious instruction to their members. Judaism is the chief non-Christian religion; the Jewish community is active. Recent immigration from Indochina, the Middle East, and the U.S. has broadened religious philosophies, there are now several Moslem mosques as well as churches of Seventh-day Adventists and the Latter-Day Saints.


Educational opportunities, both formal and informal, are available to suit practically all interests. Four major universities provide tertiary and post graduate degrees. Technical, vocational and recreational learning centers abound as Perth services both the burgeoning population of Western Australia as well as several countries of Southeast Asia.

Perth churches play an important part in education and operate the major private schools.


Sporting facilities are excellent for tennis, golf, sailing, and all water sports. Horse racing, trotting, and dog racing are popular year round. Car racing, Australian rules football, and cricket are also popular spectator sports. Many sporting associations and public facilities are available for golf, tennis, lawn bowling, surfing, boating, and sailing. Membership is obtainable and inexpensive. Fishing, water skiing, biking, hiking, ten pin bowling, and rollerblading are also popular. Indoor rinks also make it possible to pursue ice skating and ice hockey. Baseball, softball, basketball, and soccer are also very popular.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Good highways can speed the motorist to most areas of the State. The West Australian outback has some magnificent and rugged scenery. With the onset of spring, the wildflowers bloom in abundance, blanketing the State in blossoms.


Entertainment facilities in Perth are much like those one would encounter in a U.S. city of similar size. The library system consists of a well-stocked central library with numerous suburban branches. The State library also provides an information service.

Perth's principal museum, the Western Australian Museum, is devoted mainly to natural history, but it also has an interesting collection from pioneering days. It runs a children's center during the school holiday. The Western Australian Art Gallery has an interesting collection by many Australian artists. The city also has several private galleries. The port city of Fremantle has an excellent maritime museum.

Perth's concert hall and entertainment center attract artists of international renown. Excellent theaters on the University grounds as well as the refurbished His Majesty's Theater offer all forms of entertainment from classical to popular.

The city has five color TV stations, nine AM radio stations, and five FM stations. Numerous movie theaters show movies throughout the city and suburbs.

The Festival of Perth, held annually in February, attracts artists, plays, and exhibits from all over the world.

Social Activities

Western Australians are known for their friendliness. Sporting clubs and organizations such as Rotary and Lions offer excellent points of contact. The Australian-American Association and the American Women's Club provide opportunities for social involvement. Large organized social affairs are more formal than in the U.S. and long dresses or formal cocktail attire is worn.

The backyard barbecue is an institution in Perth because of the great weather and many invitations can be expected.


In many ways Sydney is like San Francisco, with old homes perched alongside modern apartment buildings on hills overlooking picturesque bays and coves. It has an international seaport with a scenic harbor, dominated by a famous bridge, and the world-famous opera house. In other ways, the city resembles Los Angeles, with its pleasant climate and informal outdoor life. The mean temperature in Sydney ranges from 56°F in winter to 74°F in summer.

Sydney is the capital of the State of New South Wales. It is also Australia's largest city (about 4 million people, 1999 est.), and is situated on the magnificent harbor of Port Jackson. It was the first European settlement in Australia, settled in 1788 as a penal colony. Sydney was named for Thomas Townsend, the first Viscount Sydney, Secretary of the Home Department, responsible for colonial affairs when New South Wales was founded.

The city grew rapidly with the arrival of free settlers; establishment of wool and wheat industries in New South Wales; gold rushes; building of road and rail networks focusing on Sydney Harbor; and the development of commerce, industry, and banking. The growth was largely unplanned, and the winding narrow streets and jumbled buildings add to Sydney's charm while aggravating traffic problems.

The city is built on an undulating low land south and west of Port Jackson and some steeply scarped sandstone plateaus north of the harbor and along the coast. The higher areas are 487-682 feet above sea level. The harbor has many bays, inlets, and coves with about 180 miles of shoreline. Most of the shoreline has been developed, but some areas have been set aside for parks, recreation areas, and reserves. Harbor Bridge, a single span steel arch known as the "coat hanger," and an underwater tunnel connect the north and south shores.


As in Canberra, most foods are readily available. Supermarkets, as well as specialty shops, are found in the city and suburbs. Some "American" food staples, such as Crisco, Bisquick, corn meal, and Mexican specialties, can occasionally be found in more expensive "international food" sections of stores.


Sydney has a milder climate than its sister cities to the south. However, personnel often travel to the other areas of Australia. We suggest bringing some clothing suitable for tropical climates to the north and for the southern winters. For Sydney, clothing suitable for San Francisco is appropriate most of the year, though summers tend to be hotter and muggier.


All public or government schools in Sydney are controlled by the New South Wales Department of Education. Non-government schools are usually church-sponsored, but they must follow courses and conform to the examinations of the State government system. Uniforms are usually required.

The school year begins in February and is divided into four terms; a break of approximately 2 weeks occurs between each term (April, July, September), with the long vacation (summer holidays) occurring in December/January. Both public and private schools follow this yearly pattern with only minor variations.

Grade placement is usually determined by the student's age, previous experience, and overall academic ability.

Free passes for use on public transport on buses and trains are provided for all children traveling more than 1 mile if they are attending the nearest appropriate school. This service is also provided to children attending private schools with no restriction on distance but with restrictions as to the outer limits on the transport system.


Sydney's outdoor sports facilities are equalled by few cities of its size in the world. Beaches on the ocean north and south of the harbor entrance offer swimming, surfing, and beach sports from October through March. The harbors and rivers in the area are favorites for sailing and water skiing. The shark menace has been widely publicized, but no one has been attacked in the harbor for over 10 years, and beaches and offshore waters are patrolled.

Sydney is a sailor's paradise. The harbor is filled with small boats every weekend. Sailboats and power boats can be purchased locally, but prices are higher than in the U.S. prices.

Skiing is growing in popularity, though the season is limited to June-August and sometimes September. Ski resorts are 6 hours or more from Sydney by car. You can rent equipment.

The city is full of magnificent golf courses, both public and private, and tennis courts are numerous. Squash is a popular local pastime and squash courts are available at many clubs and at several large commercial facilities. The leading spectator sports are cricket and rugby football. Baseball also has been popular for many years, particularly in the western suburbs of the city, and a regular amateur league has teams throughout Australia. Basketball is growing rapidly in popularity. Indoor rinks also make it possible to pursue ice skating and ice hockey.

Hiking (bush walking) is popular, as is amateur prospecting in some of the old gold or opal fields in the interior of the State.

Saltwater fishing is good, and several streams and lakes offer freshwater fishing. Hunting most animals and birds is controlled, and hunters are often confronted by animal rights activists.

Touring and Outdoor Activities:

A number of pleasant picnic spots exist both within and near the city.

One of the favorites is the Royal National Park, about 30 miles south. Sydney has an excellent park system. Most suburbs have park and playground areas for children that are owned and controlled by local councils. You can reach the Sydney Zoological Gardens at the Taronga Park by car, bus, or ferry. The zoo, in a beautiful setting overlooking the harbor, is world famous for its collection of Australian fauna. A world-class aquarium is located at Darling Harbor, and another one in the North Shore suburb of Manly.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Australian Museum offer interesting and educational exhibits and are close to the city center. The magnificent Blue Mountains are less than a 2-hour drive to the west, and beaches on the south coast are popular vacation or weekend trips.


Sydney has many movie theaters, including large downtown and neighborhood first-run cinemas. Most films are English or American, but foreign-language films are also shown. Most films are seen here soon after release.

The legitimate theater retains its hold on the affection of Sydney-siders, and at least five or six stage productions are usually going on simultaneously. Productions include reviews and musicals, as well as drama and experimental plays. Some small, independent theaters in the suburbs have had successful productions and have become locally well known.

Australian ballet and opera companies have regular seasons in Sydney. Sydney's world-famous Opera House at Bennelong Point was opened by Queen Elizabeth on October 20, 1973. It contains concert halls, restaurants, and theaters, as well as the opera theater, and is the focal point for cultural entertainment in Sydney. Both the ballet and opera maintain international standards and have successfully tour abroad. Public support is widespread and bookings should be made in advance. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has a 6-month season and often has foreign guest soloists or conductors. World-class touring orchestras, chamber music groups, and soloists appear frequently.

Outdoor fairs include the Royal Easter Show and the Autumn Sheep Show. Other important events are the City of Sydney Festival in January, ANZAC Day Parade and commemoration ceremony in April, and the Australian-American Friendship Week in May. No unusual guidelines, etiquette requirements, or photographic restrictions apply to these activities.

Social Activities

Social contacts of Americans range from informal home visits to more formal meetings and an occasional full-dress ball. Except for small gatherings, however, few functions consist exclusively of Americans. Several Australian-American organizations are active in Sydney. The most prominent organization for promoting bilateral relations is the Australian-American Association (AAA), which sponsors an annual Friendship Week Ball, 4th of July activities and other social functions during the year.

The American Society and its affiliate, the American Women's Club, also have large and active memberships and welcome new arrivals to their ranks. The Society holds an Independence Day Celebration, an annual picnic, and other social events keyed to traditional American holidays, or to benefit worthy causes.

An American Legion chapter is active in Sydney. Another successful local organization is the American Club, a downtown eating club, a majority of whose members are now Australians.

The social club is a prominent feature of Sydney life. Clubs cover every form of activity from golf and tennis to lawn bowls, ethnic societies, and rugby league clubs. Since slot machines are legal on club premises in New South Wales, many of the larger clubs have used this income to subsidize club activities and have low membership fees and lavish facilitiesincluding indoor swimming pools, nightclubs, moderately priced meals, and such auxiliary activities as sports tournaments and charter group travel arrangements. Until recently, club life was predominantly a male phenomenon. But now women are admitted to full or associate membership in most institutions.

Sydney is a cosmopolitan city, and contacts with third-country nationals are frequent in the course of normal official or social activities.


Adelaide, founded in 1837, is the capital and principal city of South Australia. It was named for the consort of Britain's King William IV, and was the first city in Australia to be incorporated (1840). Now a thriving municipality of over 1 million inhabitants, it is a business and commercial center which supports a large export trade (Port Adelaide is only seven miles from the city), and which boasts a relatively new complex for the performing arts, the Adelaide Festival Centre. The Centre hosts Australia's premier performing arts festival. Adelaide is also the site of the annual Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

The city lies on the River Torrens, in an amphitheater of wooded hills. Its numerous parks and gardens provide the setting for an interesting mixture of colonial architecture and large, modern buildings. The University of Adelaide, more than a century old, is located here, as is Flinders University of South Australia, which was founded in 1966. Adelaide is noted for its many churches, including St. Peter's Anglican Cathedral. The South Australian Museum contains the world's largest collection of aboriginal artifacts.

One of the major tourist attractions in Adelaide is the huge Central Market, the largest produce market in the Southern Hemisphere. Shopping centers, where aboriginal arts and crafts may be purchased, and good hotels and restaurants have helped to increase business and tourism in the city. The South Australia Government Tourist Bureau conducts tours of the city and its environs and also of the Barossa Valley wine-producing district, where a vintage festival is held in odd-numbered years.

Warm-weather sports are particularly popular in Adelaide's climate. There are many cricket fields and tennis courts (Davis Cup matches are held here). Among the other popular sports are lawn bowls, golf, racing, water sports and, in the winter, football.

From Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road along the southern coast of Victoria to the west is a delightful way to get to South Australia, and on to Adelaide. Inland from the cliffs and beaches are the rain forests of the Otway Range with their tall, stringy-bark eucalyptus trees and tree ferns. Over the South Australian border are volcanic lakes and limestone caves, with recent finds of extinct marsupial lions and giant kangaroos. The inland marshes are full of black swans, egrets, and ducks. The trip is fascinating, and lures many tourists to this part of the Australian continent.

Hobart (Tasmania)

Hobart is the capital of historic Tasmania, Australia's southernmost state. Named for Lord Hobart, a British colonial secretary, the city was known as Hobart Town for nearly 40 years after its incorporation in 1842. For a brief period, it also was called Hobarton. What is now the capital city originated as a penal colony on the site of one of the present suburbs, Risdon, but the settlement soon was moved across the Derwent River. In 1812, it became the seat of state government.

The island state of Tasmania located about 150 miles to the south of Melbourne across the Bass Strait, is an outdoor adventurers dream-land. There are over 2000 km of walking tracks on the island and 18 national parks, with mountains, rivers and lakes that are never too far from the fabulous beaches on the coastline. The patient, observant hiker may get to see some of the abundant wildlife on Tasmania including wombats and wallabies, pademelons and platypus, kangaroos and quoll, and of course, the Tasmanian Devil. Fishing is plentiful and ocean life includes a large number of seals, dolphins and whales.

Dozens of guided and self-guided walking tours lead through Victorian-era streets and seaside towns to tell the stories and legends of the earliest European settlers, most of whom were British convicts and the families of British security officials. Several prison buildings are now museums with artifacts, exhibits and presentations to share the history and experience of these people. Before the arrival of the British, however, Tasmanian Aborigines lived in isolation on the island for nearly 10,000 years. Their unique experience is shared at the Tiagarra Centre on Devonport's Bluff.

For a more refined experience, Tasmania has dozens of shopping markets that offer a variety of goods from antiques to arts and crafts. Excellent wines, cheeses, and chocolates, as well as local specialties such as leatherwood honey, are tempting treats. And in the evening, you can take in a concert at the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's Federation Concert Hall.

The population of Tasmania is about 470,000 (2000 est.) Tasmania can be reached by plane or ferry from Melbourne.

Hobart is the home of the University of Tasmania and of the State Library, which houses an excellent museum and fine art galleries. There are many designated historic sites in the city, as well as botanical gardens of note.

Fishing, swimming, golf, lawn bowls, and squash are among the numerous sports available in this temperate climate. Spectator sports feature especially the annual Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, originating in Sydney the day after Christmas. There is ample opportunity for entertainment in Hobart, which has a legal gambling casino, plus concerts, movies, legitimate theater, and a wealth of hotels and restaurants.

The metropolitan population of Hobart is over 194,000 (1999 est.).


From its rough and tumble beginnings as a small desert town, ALICE SPRINGS has grown just enough to include all the modern facilities a traveler could want while keeping true to the rustic Outback heritage of the town. Alice Springs is located right in the center of Australia on the banks of the Todd River, which is usually dry. The second largest town in the Northern Territory, it is called the capital of the Outback with a population of over 27,000. It became most popular as a tourist site after the release of the 1956 film romance, A Town Like Alice.

Originally named Stuart, the town was founded in 1871 as construction began there for the overland telegraph station built to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide. The waterhole located just east of the telegraph station buildings was named Alice Springs in honor of the wife of Sir Charles Todd, the Postmaster General of South Australia. The locals began to use the name for their town and officially renamed the place Alice Springs in 1933. The Alice Springs Telegraph Station and the water-hole are still popular sites to visit.

For those looking for a moderate outback adventure, Alice Springs offers a variety of opportunities to explore. Hikers will enjoy the Ayers Rock, a two-mile red monolith, and the nearby Olgas, a huge group of domes of lavender conglomerate rock. Overnight or weekly dude ranch trips out of Alice Springs are similar to those in the Western U.S. Camels are widely available for excursions or you may choose to tour the area from a hot air balloon. Visitors can stay at one of two major Caravan Parks, which offer accommodations that range from simple camp sites to deluxe villas with fully modern facilities.

The Alice Springs Desert Park is a combination national park, zoo, research center and aboriginal cultural center. The park offers 1.6 km of trails through three typical desert habitats as well as a wide range of interactive exhibits and presentations designed to share an appreciation for the land and people of the Australian outback. The National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame, featuring the accomplishments of women who made pioneering discoveries in all fields, is also located in Alice Springs.

If you're in Alice Springs in September, you won't want to miss the world famous Henley-on-Todd Regatta. The event attracts many local and international participants who have found ingenious ways to race their homemade boats on a river without any water.

Trips to Alice Springs should be in the winter months, since the dry center of Australia can be very hot in the summer.

Situated on the north coast near the Timor Sea, DARWIN is the capital of the Northern Territories. With roughly 88,000 residents (1999 est.), it has one of Australia's finest harbors and is one of the country's most modern cities. Darwin is the service center for the sparsely inhabited hinterland; the economy also relies on government business. This is a vital transportation and communications hub, served by an international airport. The area was founded in 1839 by a surveyor on the HMS Beagle, scientist Charles Darwin's (1809-1882) research ship. The expanding air service industry accounted for much of the area's growth in the 1930s. The Allied armies in Northern Australia were headquartered here during World War II, when Darwin was heavily damaged in bombing raids. A 1974 cyclone decimated the city, but it was rebuilt with government aid.

FREMANTLE , a suburb of Perth, is located on the Indian Ocean at the mouth of the Swan River in southwestern Australia. Founded in 1829, Fremantle is the terminus of the Trans-Australian railroad as well as the seaport for Perth. The city is a fishing and passenger port and the chief commercial port in the area. Fruit, flower, wheat, and wool are exported, and steel, oil, and phosphates are imported. East Fre-mantle and North Fremantle are suburbs of the city which has a current population of more than 25,000. Fremantle gained worldwide recognition as the site of the 1987 America's Cup yachting race.

GEELONG , Victoria's second largest city, has an estimated population of over 156,000 (1999 est.). It is an important port, located on Corio Bay, 50 miles southwest of Melbourne. A large percentage of the nation's wool crop is marketed here; shipping and manufacturing are also major employers. Many schools and laboratories, as well as a large library, have made Geelong a center of education. The city set aside 40 percent of its area for parks, and lies in the middle of a coastal resort area. Geelong's name is taken from the Aboriginal jillong, meaning "the place of the native companion," a reference to a long-legged bird.

GOLD COAST , 50 miles south of Brisbane, is a resort complex that straddles the Queensland/New South Wales border. Building restrictions here were lifted in 1952, causing a massive construction boom. Beach resorts abound in Gold Coast, where the population of approximately 391,000 (1999 est.) expands dramatically at holidays. Tourist attractions include a fauna reserve and a bird sanctuary.

NEWCASTLE (formerly called King's Town) lies on the Tasman Sea, 100 miles northeast of Sydney. Iron and steel industries, mining, and textile manufactures are the main economic activities here. Newcastle was founded in the early 19th century as a penal settlement and became a city in 1885. The city has port facilities and a channel. The War Memorial Cultural Centre was established in the 1950s. Newcastle's current population is nearly 479,000 (1999 est.) and is Australia's sixth largest city.

The seaport of WOLLONGONG is 40 miles south of Sydney. With over 263,000 residents (1999 est.), this is the nucleus of the Illawarra dairy region. Bulli coal deposits have lured many heavy industries to the city, and the artificial harbor of Port Kembla is the home of a fishing fleet. Wollongong has road and rail connections to Sydney. The University of Wollongong and a technical college are located here.


Geography and Climate

Australia is a large, comparatively dry, and sparsely inhabited continent, almost as large as the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Australia, the only continent that consists of a single nation, is also the only inhabited continent which is isolated from all others (total coastline exceeds 22,000 miles). Average elevation is about 985 feet, which makes it the flattest continent on earth. This is among the prime reasons for sparse annual rainfall16.5 inches, which is less than two-thirds the world average (26 inches). Further, the rain falls mainly on coastal regions: Forty percent of the surface gets less than 10 inches per year, and annual evaporation exceeds annual rainfall on about three-quarters of the land. Overall runoff is less than half that of the Mississippi basis; Australia has no navigable rivers of any commercial significance.

In general, the country is warmer than the U.S. (the northern one-third is in the tropics, the rest in the temperate zone). Temperature extremes are much less pronounced. Sydney's average daytime temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit in the coldest month (July), and 81 degrees in the warmest month (January).


Most of Australia's 19.2 million people live in the south and southeast coastal areas (temperate zone). The states of New South Wales and Victoria contain about 60 percent of the population. Australians are mainly city dwellers: about 63% percent reside in the eight capital cities, with about 38% in Sydney or Melbourne.

About 80% of Australians are of British or Irish descent. After World War II, Australia began to encourage immigration from other European countries also, and these immigrants and their descendants make up most of the balance. Approximately 23 percent of Australians were born overseas (9 percent in the UK, Ireland, or New Zealand), and about 20 percent to homes where English is not the dominant language. Immigration from Asia has increased in the last twenty years, especially from Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. Fifty percent of current immigrants come from Asia, and Asian-Australians are projected to account for 10 percent of the total population within a generation. In 1992, the population's annual rate of growth was estimated to be 1.37 percent; a little less than half of that stemmed from immigration. The government promotes pluralism, ethnic tolerance, and social diversity, describing this policy as multiculturalism.

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders total about 260,000 (approximately 1.5 percent of the population). Most of them live in northern coastal regions and the interior, but there are also significant aboriginal communities in metropolitan Brisbane, Sydney, and other Australian cities.


Australia is divided into six states and two territories: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra). All eight regional jurisdictions are represented in both houses of Parliament. Australia also governs external territories such as Norfolk Island in the Pacific (about 1000 miles northeast of Sydney), as well as the Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands in the Indian Ocean (about 1600 miles northwest of Perth).

In fiscal terms, Australian state and territorial governments mainly depend on grants from the federal government, for they do not tax personal incomes or corporate profits. Nevertheless, the states and territories have broader administrative authority than states of the U.S., for they manage various functions that Americans usually associate with local government (e.g., police, schools, and hospitals). In Australia, local governments provide relatively minor services (e.g., water supply, recreation facilities).

Canberra, the capital, is about 180 miles southwest of Sydney. During nation-building ferment of the 1890s, it became clear that partisans of Sydney and Melbourne could not reach agreement on either city as the permanent capital. The site of Canberra, the compromise, was selected after the six states federated in 1901. Chicago architect Walter Burley Griffin designed the basic plans, and construction started in 1913.

The Commonwealth (federal) government and the six state governments operate under written constitutions which mainly draw on the British (Westminster) tradition of a Cabinet government that is responsible to a majority in Parliament's lower chamber, the House of Representatives. The federal constitution, however, also contains some elements that resemble American practice (e.g., a Senate in which each state has equal representation).

The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning British monarch, but she exercises her functions through personal representatives living in Australia (i.e., the Governor-General of Australia and the Governors of the six states). All seven are Australian citizens and are appointed at the recommendation of the respective head of government (i.e., the Prime Minister or the Premier of a state). Most of their duties are ceremonial, and they mainly act on the advice of Cabinet ministers. Democratically elected representatives thus exercise effective rule, and in recent years there has been considerable debate about proposals to abolish the monarchy and establish a republic.

Voting is compulsory, and seats in the 147-member federal House of Representatives are allotted to the states and territories according to population. Members of the House are elected to three-year terms from specific "divisions" (districts) by means of a preferential voting system, but the Prime Minister may recommend new national elections before the three years have elapsed. (The Governor-General traditionally follows such advice.)

The Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers are all serving members of Parliament. By tradition, most are members of the House of Representatives, which is the focus of intense debates and a highly structured competition that pits the government against the opposition. Party discipline is strict; almost all controversial proposals are debated and enacted along party lines. It is rare for a member to cross the floor (i.e., vote against party views), and anyone who does so risks expulsion from the party or rejection for "preselection" in the next electoral cycle. (Australia does not have primary elections. A candidate for the House of Representatives is nominated during a meeting of the party's local members.)

Each of the six states elects 12 federal Senators who serve for six years, but their terms overlapso that half these seats are at issue every three years. In addition, each of the two territories elects two Senators who serve three-year terms. The upper house thus has 76 members in all.

Drafters of the constitution intended that the Senate mainly serve to represent the states and protect their rights. But because of strict party discipline and complex electoral methodsat-large voting involving proportional "quotas" and sequential tallies that take account of second and subsequent preferences marked on the ballotSenators mainly represent the interests and policies of political parties, with relatively minor variations that attest to regional concerns. Senators may serve as ministers, and in recent years about one-third of the overall number have come from the upper house.

The Senate cannot originate or amend tax or expenditure bills, but has the constitutional authority to reject them or propose changes. In all other respects, the two houses have equal standing. Under complex conditions specified in the federal constitutionin essence, extended deadlock between the House and Senateboth houses may be dissolved simultaneously, so that ensuing national elections would involve all seats in Parliament. This is unusual and has occurred only six times.

All major parties support the U.S.-Australia alliance and stress the importance of close relations between Australia and the United States. This long-standing and stable pattern is essentially unaffected by the outcome of national elections.

The governing Australian Labor Party (ALP), which maintains close ties to the trade union movement, has held office since 1983. During that period, the government has carried out major restructuring of the economy (e.g., floating the Australian dollar, cutting tariffs by substantial amounts, reducing and simplifying regulations that affect business). Liberalizing trade and enhancing economic integration with Asia-Pacific countries are major tenets of the ALP.

The opposition Liberal-National Coalition agrees with the ALP on the need to liberalize trade and enhance economic ties, and it likewise favors a free-market approach to economic growth. The Coalition, however, stresses individual rights, personal autonomy, and managerial initiative, while favoring a more rapid shift toward enterprise contracts that would replace detailed federal and state regulations on pay levels and fringe benefits. Its junior partner, the National Party (formerly called the Country Party), is closely associated with conservative social values and the interests of farmers.

Two minor partiesthe Australian Democrats and the Western Australia "Greens"are represented only in the Senate but have political and media effects which are disproportionate to their numbers. The Democrats tend to be somewhat to the left of Labor, stressing good government, public-sector services, and social equality. The Western Australia "Greens" take a special interest in environmental matters and often express concern about the effect of large social institutions (e.g., government bodies, corporations, and trade unions) on individuals and local communities.

The High Court of Australia equates to the U.S. Supreme Court. It has the power of constitutional review, as well as general appellate jurisdiction over other federal courts and the courts of the various states. The federal court system is less extensive than in the U.S., for Parliament has invested state courts with substantial authority to enforce federal statutes.

Arts, Science, and Education

Education is compulsory through age 15. Reflecting the government's drive to expand educational access, the number of Australians finishing high school has risen from 34 percent in 1983 to over 70 percent today. Approximately 66 percent of students attend government schools; the rest attend private schools. The number of students completing the Australian equivalent of a college education (i.e., at a university, teachers' college, college of advanced education or technical school) is, growing annually. The Australian government supports two significant organizations that encourage Australian and American scholarship and academic exchanges: the Australian Fulbright Commission and the Australian Centre for American Studies.

In science, Australia holds a significant place in radio astronomy, geology and marine sciences. Its observatories constitute the principal center of radio astronomy research in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also an important base for monitoring U.S. space flights and satellites with two critical NASA Space Tracking Stations. With the Great Barrier Reef on the country's northeast coast, Kakadu National Park in the far north, and the unusual array of flora and fauna, Australia is considered by many naturalists and environmentalists to be a giant ecological laboratory. Australia's proximity to Antarctica has also fostered considerable scientific research in the area of the South Pole.

Private and community events organizers, as well as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), annually bring to Australia internationally-acclaimed performing artists who tour Australia's principal cities. The major cities have symphony orchestras and lively professional theaters with productions ranging from the classics to the avant garde. National and foreign opera, ballet and theater companies perform in sites outside their headquarter cities on a regular touring basis. Some Australian companies such as the Australian National Ballet have received international acclaim.

Australia's art scene is dynamic. Government-supported galleries in Canberra and the state capitals have important collections of Australian and overseas artists. Commercial galleries in the larger cities display top-quality work as well. Traditional and contemporary aboriginal art is popular with local and foreign collectors. Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra host annual or biennial arts festivals. They include all of the arts and attract world-famous writers, musicians, singers, actors and dancers. Activities in the arts and politics are well-covered by newspapers and magazines. Australia's publishing scene is lively. Novels, travel books and more "academic" publications by local authors are plentiful. Bookshops are usually well stocked, yet books, even paperbacks, are substantially more expensive than in the U.S. because of Australian arrangements with British publishers.

Commerce and Industry

Australia's free enterprise economy combines a strong private sector with a relatively larger sector of state-owned or licensed businesses than is the case in the U.S. Railroads, utilities and many services are owned by state and federal governments. The push towards microeconomic reform and increased competition, however, has seen a gradual shift towards privatization of many of these services. For example, while the major telecommunications operator, Telecom, is government owned, recent deregulation of the market has seen two other operators take a significant market share. Deregulation of the airlines in 1990 has resulted in a major industry reshuffle. Ansett and Qantas (which took over former domestic-only carrier Australian Airlines in 1993) now compete directly both domestically and internationally, resulting in less expensive fares and greater services than previously. Nevertheless, airline prices still remain considerably higher than in the U.S. The privatization of QANTAS is now being completed through share offering. Other utilities and services (such as the natural gas infrastructure and the major airports) are subjects of the government's extensive privatization plans.

Base wages are determined by a federal Industrial Relations Commission and, increasingly, by enterprise (collective) bargaining at the work-place level. After peaking at 12 percent during 1990-91 recession unemployment is currently declining (6.4% percent in 2000).

A decreasing number of agricultural products are subject to marketing controls or stabilization arrangements. Australian agriculture is highly mechanized and efficient. It is based mainly on winter grains and extensive livestock ranching, with a limited acreage of row crops. The main agricultural products are wool, wheat, and meat, although sugar, dairy products, cotton and fruit, are also important. Livestock, which includes roughly 117 million sheep, holds greater relative importance in Australia than in the U.S.

In 2000, cattle prices increased by about 22% and were projected to continue to increase by about 6% for 2001 and 2002. In the same year, wool prices increased by about 21% high. Export income from wool accounts for about 6% of total export earnings (1994 data; in 1953 the figure was 50 percent). About one-third of world supply of wool is produced in Australia.

Distance, sparse population, and lack of navigable rivers make overland and air transportation vital. Australia has an extensive road and rail infrastructure network, relative to the population, with major arterial routes between each state capital (regional roads are of variable quality). Air transport, including air freight, has expanded into a leading industry: Australia leads the world in freight-ton miles per capita and is second only to the U.S. in passenger miles per capita.

Australia depends largely on ocean transport for bulk export, with an array of modern, deep water ports to handle its important minerals export trade. Significant reforms of labor practices over the past years have resulted in quicker ship turnaround times and more efficient stevedoring methods, but most industry groups argue that further reforms are necessary. International shipping is provided largely by foreign-owned lines, which contributes to Australia's high balance of payments net services deficit. Sea ports are well integrated with land transportation infrastructure.

Australia ranks among the world's leading trading nations, even though it has a relatively small population of only 19.2 million people. Primary products comprise about 60 percent of total merchandise exports. Of that, minerals and fuels account for 28 percent, and agricultural goods (both processed and unprocessed), around 30 percent. But the real growth sector is in elaborately transformed manufactures, which formerly made up an almost negligible percentage of Australia's merchandise exports.

While Australia is still considered a large importer of transformed goods and an exporter of primary commodities, its contribution to the global manufactures market is becoming significant.

Expansion of the minerals industry has been rapid over the past decade, despite uncertain minerals prices. Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and continues to be a major player in the liquefied natural gas and iron ore marketsJapan is Australia's largest coal and iron ore market, for use in Japanese steel mills. Production of most other metals, including gold, the titanium minerals and alumina, is majorin some cases world-leading.

Shifts in Australia's overseas trade pattern have occurred since World War II. The U.K. now is much less important to Australia as a trading partner than formerly. Asian countries are now the prominent markets for Australian products and accept 60 percent of merchandise exports. Japan is Australia's number one export market, taking 25 percent of merchandise exports in 1994 (mainly coal, iron ore, meat and gold). The U.S. is Australia's primary import source, with merchandise imports totalling almost $11 billion in 1994 (22 percent of total import valuethis compares to 12 percent in 1955). Australian exports to the U.S. were worth $3.4 billion in 1994. The U.S. is the only major trading nation to consistently hold a bilateral trade surplus with Australia.

Australia exports a wide range of goods to the U.S. Major categories include beef, aircraft and associated equipment, computers and parts, and crude petroleum and oils. Major imports from the U.S. are computers, aircraft and equipment, measuring and checking equipment and telecommunications equipment.

The latter category represents a growing business opportunity for U.S. exporters, as Australia is currently experiencing a boom in mobile telecommunications, along with the start-up of pay-TV services.

Historically, Australia relied on high tariffs to protect domestic industry. In addition, special restrictions have applied to dairy and some other agricultural products, as well as to textiles, clothing, footwear and automobiles. The current Labor government has set about reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to increase Australia's integration into the global trading arena. Australia has petitioned the U.S. to liberalize its restrictions on the entry of Australian meat, steel and sugar. The Australian government and rural organizations continue to voice their displeasure over the U.S. Export Enhancement Program (EEP) and the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP).

The Australian government has established foreign investment guidelines that encourage inward investment. Restrictions on foreign investment remain in mining, urban real estate, the media and civil aviation. In the natural resource sector, the government requires foreign investors to give Australian companies the opportunity to participate in major projects, normally requiring that at least 50 percent Australian equity and 50 percent of board-voting strength be held by Australian interests. In other areas, nonresidents, foreign-controlled businesses, and Australian companies in which foreign interests have a substantial shareholding, must notify the government before acquiring a substantial interest in an Australian company.

Around 30 percent of direct foreign investment stock in Australia comes from the U.S. U.S. investment is particularly prominent in autos, petroleum and minerals development, agricultural machines, construction and earthmoving equipment, chemicals, food processing, and oil refining. Australia is the fourth most important country for direct investment from the U.S., after Canada, the U.K., and Germany.

Australia's economy definitely looks promising. Throughout the decade of the 1990s, the country boasted an annual economic growth rate of about 4% per year, the second-fastest rate in the developed world (behind Ireland). Which has placed the economy at the best it's been in over thirty years.

The July 2000 introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) seemed to cause a decrease in the construction industry, but over the course of a year, the service sectors reported strong growth (e.g. communications, 8 percent; property/business services 9 percent, finance services 5 percent) as did mining (10 percent), metal products (7 percent) and non-metallic mineral products (24 percent). The 10% GST is levied on most goods and services (with the exception of basic foods, education, health, and some other sectors). Several other sales taxes were abolished with the acceptance of the GST. The overall effect of these changes seems to have been to raise the inflation rate from its average 2.5% to 6% at the end of 2000. However, the rate is expected to return to normal by the end of 2001.



Bus service in Canberra is good, though limited in evenings and on weekends and holidays. Other major cities have a good system of commuter trains, buses, streetcars, and harbor ferries. Public transportation is efficient though crowded during rush hours.


Taxi service in all major cities is good. Tipping is not expected unless the driver helps with baggage. Rent-a-car services are available in all cities. Rates are higher than those in the US. Railway porters have a set charge for each piece of luggage handled, varying slightly from city to city.


Australia's size makes air travel the most convenient method of in-country travel. Several international airlines operate regularly in and out of Australia. There is an extensive but expensive domestic air network with an impressive safety record.

Numerous foreign shippers call at various ports. All State capitals are on the coast and most overseas liners can berth within 1 mile of the business district.

Rail service is good between major cities but other rail routes are erratic. Bus service is available between most cities and is less expensive than either air or rail.

Road conditions in Australia vary greatly. Few four-lane highways exist, and these are mainly for short stretches on the approaches to the larger cities. Most highways typically are two-lane asphalt or crushed stone; some have a third lane for passing on hills and other dangerous points. Country and secondary roads often are unsurfaced and become impassable after heavy rains.



Telephone service within Australia and worldwide is excellent. An Australia-to-U.S. call is easy to place. Direct dialing and itemized billing are available but must be requested when ordering telephone service as they are not automatically installed. Fax facilities are excellent.

It is not advisable to have cordless/cellular phones in personal effects as they may be confiscated by Australian Customs. Phones coming into Australia must be registered with Telecom before entering Australia. Permits are very expensive.

Radio and TV

AM and FM radio stations reach the entire country. Shortwave broadcasts, including VOA, can be picked up but reception is unreliable. TV programs are similar to those in the U.S. with many American programs and films shown. All TV channels broadcast in color using the PAL system which means that U.S. made TVs cannot be used without modification. TV modification from NTSC (U.S.) to PAL is expensive, not always satisfactory, and will render the set unusable in the U.S. until it is converted back to NTSC.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Australia's metropolitan press consist of two daily papers in Sydney and two in Melbourne; one each in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart and Perth; and two national daily newspapers. Each state capital has at least one Sunday paper. Many daily papers are published in provincial areas. Triweeklies, biweeklies and weeklies are published in other cities and towns throughout the country. Australia has a flourishing periodical press. U.S. newspapers are not available locally; however, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune are available at a limited number of news agents.

Newsstands carry Time Australia, the Asia-Pacific edition of Time, as well as Who magazine (People). Newsweek and Fortune have been incorporated as part of the Bulletin magazine. Numerous bookstores in each capital city carry such American magazines as Fortune, Saturday Review, Scientific American, Harper's Bazaar, the New Yorker, the New Leader and European magazines such as Paris Match, Realities, Punch, the Observer, the New Statesman and Encounter. Airmail delivery or locally printed editions of the more popular magazines listed above means that issues are up to date. Subscriptions normally would be necessary for only the specialized publications.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Also readily available are well-qualified doctors, surgeons, and specialists as well as good hospitals and laboratory facilities. It is not necessary to go outside Australia for medical care except in rare instances which require a trip to a specialist in the US.

Canberra has one general hospital, one Catholic hospital, and one private hospital which cater to all sections of the community. They are well equipped and provide the usual pathology and X-ray services and outpatient care. The city has many general practitioners and a variety of specialists. Good dentists, several opticians and ophthalmologists are available. Dental fees vary with the type of work required. Laboratory fees are expensive.

State capitals generally have several large and well-equipped hospitals. Many excellent doctors, surgeons, and specialists of all kinds practice in these cities. Competent oculists and opticians are readily available although eyeglasses, lenses and contact lenses are more expensive than in the U.S. All residential areas have a large number of general practitioners competent to handle all general ills not requiring a specialist. Gynecologists and pediatricians are excellent. Hospital accommodations are sometimes limited and, except for emergency care, should be reserved as far in advance as possible. Dentists use modern methods and equipment. Good orthodontic, periodontic and endodontic care are available. Pharmaceutical services are provided by chemist shops (drugstores) in all suburban and city shopping areas. Chemist shops are well stocked with prescription and patent medicines, and some provide 24 hour service and free delivery.

Community Health

No unusual health problems or hazards exist. Sewage and garbage disposal services are similar to those in the U.S.; incinerators are used in most large apartment buildings. Water supply is ample for household use and normally enough for watering lawns. Water is soft and safe (drawn from a mountain reservoir in the mountains near Canberra) and is chlorinated and fluoridated. Safe pasteurized and homogenized milk is available.

Flies are pests throughout Australia in warm weather. In midsummer, the native bush fly is a constant annoyance outdoors, but it disappears in cold weather. People with gardens find snails and slugs a great nuisance. Zipper type garment bags are useful to protect fine and seldom-worn clothing from moths and silverfish.

Preventive Measures

No serious endemic diseases exist and no special health precautions are necessary. Sabin polio vaccine is available; take the series either before or after arrival, especially children under 2 years, as well as a measles, mumps, and rubella shots. The usual children's diseases (measles, mumps, chickenpox) occasionally reach epidemic proportions. Mild outbreaks of influenza, gastroenteritis, and other seasonal diseases are common. Sinusitis, colds, and other minor respiratory illnesses, as well as asthma and allergies, are common. Children should be immunized against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and Haemophilus influenza B. Adults should keep tetanus and booster shots current. Yellow fever immunizations are currently required for personnel who have previously resided in tropical Africa or Brazil. No unusual health hazards exist. No known cases of rabies have occurred in Australia in recent years.


Australia is served by a number of airlines including United which flies daily nonstop from the U.S. West Coast. Travelers must use the airline that holds the appropriate city-pair contract fare. Flying time for the roughly 7,000-mile nonstop trip from the west coast is about 14 hours.

U.S. citizens may travel to Australia on a valid U.S. passport with an Australian visa or, if eligible, on a valid U.S. passport and an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which replaces a visa and allows a stay of up to three months. The ETA is free of charge and is available from airlines and many travel agents. American citizens who over-stay their ETA or visa, even for short periods, may be subject to detention and removal. More information about the ETA and entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Australia at 1601 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 797-3000, via the Australian Embassy home page on the Internet at, or from the Australian Consulate General in Los Angeles, tel (310) 229-4840.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hot-line for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at

Australian customs authorities enforce very strict regulations concerning the temporary importation from all countries of items such as agricultural and wood products, as well as very strict quarantine standards for other products, animals and pets. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Australia in Washington or one of Australia's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements, or see

Americans living in or visiting Australia are encouraged to register at the nearest U.S. consulate and obtain updated information on travel and security within Australia.

The U.S. Embassy in Canberra is located at Moonah Place, Yarralumla, A.C.T. 2600, telephone (61)(2) 6214-5600, fax (61)(2) 6273-3191, home page

NOTE: Registration, passports, and other routine citizen services for Canberra and the rest of the Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T.) are provided by the U.S. Consulate in Sydney (please see contact information below). The Embassy may be contacted for emergency services (i.e. the arrest, death or serious injury of American citizens) within the ACT or Queanbeyan.

The U.S. Consulate General in Sydney serves New South Wales, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory and is located on Level 59, MLC Centre, 19-29 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000, telephone (61)(2) 9373-9200, fax (61)(2) 9373-9184, home page

The U.S. Consulate General in Melbourne serves Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Northern Territory and is located at 553 St. Kilda Road, P.O. Box 6722, Melbourne Vic 3004, telephone (61)(3) 9526-5900, fax (61)(3) 9525-0769, home page

The U.S. Consulate General in Perth serves Western Australia and is located on Level 13, 16 St. Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000, telephone (61)(8) 9202-1224, fax (61)(8) 9231-9444, home page

You can import dogs and cats to Australia from the U.K. (including the Channel Island, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man), the Irish Republic, Hawaii, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Norfolk Island, and New Zealand without major difficulty. In all cases, animals must have been solely in the country of export for 6 months before export (or since birth) and during that period must not have been in an port quarantine kennel. They must be accompanied by prescribed documents, including health certificates.

Animals from other areas can also be imported; however, the owner must comply with a lengthy and costly quarantine period.

Charges are made for inspection of animals on arrival in Australia and for accommodation in kennels at quarantine stations. These charges are reviewed periodically. All quarantine regulations are rigidly enforced.

Exporting of Wild Birds: Persons wishing to import their pet birds to the U.S. should be aware of the Wild Bird Conservations Act which limits imports of exotic bird species to ensure their populations are not harmed by trade, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture quarantine requirements.

Individuals who reside outside the U.S. continuously for at least one year may import a maximum of two pet birds (not on endangered species list), per year.

Arrangements for 30 day quarantine of pet birds into the U.S. may be made through the Agriculture Section.

Australian and American dollars may be freely exchanged. However, under the Australian banking (foreign exchange) regulations, a person departing from Australia is allowed to take only A$250 in notes, A$5 in coins and the equivalent of A$250 in foreign currency notes. Any excess can be arranged through banking facilities by letters of credit, travelers checks, or drafts. The rate of exchange fluctuates slightly from day to day.

These accounts are freely convertible into U.S. dollar drafts or travelers checks. Bank credit cards are available and useful, particularly when traveling within the country. Employees who obtain bank savings accounts or other investments may be subject to Australian income taxes on the income earned from such deposits. Contact the Financial Management Office or Administrative Office for more information.

No restrictions exist on bringing dollar currency or travelers checks into Australia. U.S. currency and checks drawn on American banks are freely negotiable.

Australia uses the metric system.

Disaster Preparedness

Australia is located in an area of low seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during an individual trip is remote, earthquakes can and do occur. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet at, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 26 Australia Day

Mar. (1st Mon) Labor Day (Perth)*

Mar. (2nd Mon) Labor Day (Melbourne)*

Mar. (3rd Mon) Canberra Day (Canberra)*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter Saturday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

Apr. 25 ANZAC Day

May 1 May Day

May/June Corpus Christi*

June (1st Mon) Foundation Day*

June (2nd Mon) Queen's Birthday Celebrated (except Perth)*

Aug. 31 White Rose Day (memorial for Princess Diana)

Sept. 1 Wattle Day

Sept. 3 Flag Day

Oct. (1st Mon) Queen's Birthday Celebrated (Perth)*

Oct. (1st Mon) Labor Day (Canberra and Sydney)*

Nov. (1st Tues) Melbourne Cup Day (Melbourne)*

Nov. 11 Remembrance Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day

Dec. 31 New Year's Eve



These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Baker, Richard W. (ed.). The ANZUS States and Their Region: Regional Policies of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Praeger: 1994.

Blainey, Geoffrey. The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia's History. Melbourne: Macmillan, 1968.

Brugger, B. and D. Jaensch. Australian Politics: Theory and Practice. Winchester, MA: Allen & Unwin, 1986.

Burt, Jocelyn. Australia: The Unique Continent. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

Clark, Manning. A Short History of Australia. Macmillan: 1982.

Conway, Jill Ker. The Road from Coorain. Vintage (Random House): 1990.

Crowley, Frank (ed.). A New History of Australia. William Heinemann (Melbourne): 1974.

Evans, Gareth and Bruce Grant. Australia's Foreign Relations in the World of the 1990s. Melbourne University Press: 1995. (2nd edition)

Goldberg, S.L. and F.B. Smith, eds. Australian Cultural History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Hughes, Robert. The Fatal Shore. Alfred A. Knopf: 1986.

Jaensch, Dean. Power Politics: Australia's Party System. Allen &Unwin: 1994 (3rd edition).

Kelly, Paul. The End of Certainty. Allen & Unwin: 1992.

Keneally, Thomas. Australia: Beyond the Dreamtime. New York: Facts on File, 1989.

Lucy, Richard. The Australian Form of Government. Macmillan: 1985.

Mackay, Hugh. Reinventing Australia: The Mind and Mood of Australia in the 90s. Angus &Robertson: 1993.

Meredith, David. Australia in the International Economy in the 20th Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Money, David. Australia Today. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Morgan, Sally. My Place: An Aborigine's Stubborn Quest for Her Truth, Heritage, and Origins. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990.

Phillips, Dennis. Ambivalent Allies: Myth and Reality in the Australian-American Relationships. New York: Penguin, 1988.

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Official name : Commonwealth of Australia

Area: 7,686,300 square kilometers (2,966,200 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Kosciusko (2,229 meters/7,314 feet)

Highest point in Australian territory: Mawson Peak (2,745 meters/9,000 feet), an active volcano on Heard Island near Antarctica

Lowest point on land: Lake Eyre (16 meters/52 feet below sea level)

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 10:00 p.m. in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland = noon GMT; 9:00 p.m. in South Australia and Northern Territory = noon GMT; 8:00 p.m. in Western Australia = noon GMT

Longest distances: 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) from east to west; 3,837 kilometers (2,374 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 36,735 kilometers (22,831 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 4.8 kilometers (3 miles)


The nation of Australia, which also happens to be the world's smallest continent, is situated in the Southern Hemisphere southeast of Asia, between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Australia covers an area of 7,686,300 square kilometers (2,966,200 square miles). It is slightly smaller than the contiguous United States (not including Alaska and Hawaii). Australia is divided into six states and two territories.

Many Australian place-names reflect the country's history as a British colony, as well as the influence of Dutch and French explorers who visited the region during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. In the late twentieth century, some Aboriginal place-names replaced the British colonial names.

The following table lists the area of each of the six Australian states in both metric and English units:

State Area in Square Kilometers Area in Square Miles
New South Wales 801,600 309,500
Queensland 1,727,200 666,900
South Australia 985,000 379,900
Tasmania (Island) 67,800 26,200
Victoria 227,600 87,900
Western Australia 2,525,500 975,100


Mainland Australia has two territories: Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory. The following table lists the area of each region in metric and English units:

Territory Area in Square Kilometers Area in Square Miles
Northern Territory 1,346,200 519,800
Australian Capital Territory 2,400 900

Since 1936, Australia has claimed an additional 6.1 million square kilometers (2.4 million square miles) on the continent of Antarctica as Australian Antarctic Territoryabout 40 percent of the total land area. Three scientific bases are in operation there: Mawson (established in February of 1954), Davis (established in January of 1957), and Casey (established in February of 1969).

Furthermore, Australia claims authority over several nearby inhabited islands including Christmas Island, which is located in the Indian Ocean 2,623 kilometers (1,630 miles) northwest of Perth. Christmas Island covers an area of about 135 square kilometers (52 square miles), and in 1996 it had an estimated population of 813; 61 percent of the island's residents were Chinese and 25 percent were Malay. Not far from Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands consist of twenty-seven islets with a total land area of 14 square kilometers (5 square miles), two of which are inhabited. In 1996, the estimated population of these two islands was 609. Another possession, Norfolk Island, is northeast of Sydney and covers an area of 36 square kilometers (14 square miles). British explorer James Cook discovered Norfolk Island in 1774; the British government later sent prisoners here during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In 1856, descendants of the British sailors who had carried out a mutiny on the ship, HMS Bounty, in 1789, joined the prisoners and settled on Norfolk Island. As of 1996, the estimated permanent population was 2,209.

Australia also claims authority over a number of uninhabited islands. The Coral Sea Islands were declared a territory of Australia in 1969; they have no permanent inhabitants, but researchers temporarily take up residence at a meteorology station on one of the islands. The mountainous Heard Island, which is about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) southwest of Perth, covers an area of 910 square kilometers (350 square miles) and has a dormant volcano known as Big Ben (at an elevation of 2,740 meters/8,990 feet). Shag Island is just north of Heard Island; only 42 kilometers (26 miles) to the west are the small McDonald Islands. About 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) southeast of Tasmania, the rocky Macquarie Island measures 34 kilometers (21 miles) in length and about 3 to 5 kilometers (2 to 3 miles) in width. Macquarie Island is uninhabited except for a base maintained at its northern end since February 1948; at its southern end, it houses the biggest penguin rookery (a breeding ground) in the world.


The climate of Australia is warm and dry. The following table summarizes seasonal temperatures and precipitation levels in the capital city of Sydney:

Season Months Average Temperature: °Celsius (°Fahrenheit) Rainfall in Sydney Millimeters (inches)
Summer December to February 22°C (71°F) 89 mm (3.5 in.)
Fall March to May 18°C (65°F) 1345 mm (5.3 in.)
Winter June to August 12°C (54°F) 76 mm (3.0 in.)
Spring September to November 19°C (67°F) 74 mm (2.9 in.)


Australia has one of the flattest terrains of any country in the world. Erosion over thousands of years has rounded and flattened the mountains of Australia, so that only 6 percent of the land is over 610 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level. The country may be divided into regions according to topography (description of the surface of the land).

The Eastern Highlands (also called the Eastern Uplands) encompass the eastern portion of the country, stretching from the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland south through New South Wales and Victoria. Average elevation in this region is about 152 meters (500 feet). The country's highest peak, Mount Kosciuskoat 2,229 meters (7,314 feet)is found in the southeast corner of the mainland between Melbourne and Canberra.

The Western Plateau is a large desert region, covering approximately the western two-thirds of the country. The Western Plateau rests on an ancient rock shield or foundation, and the average elevation throughout is 305 meters (1,000 feet) above sea level. The Western Plateau has one mountain range (Hamersley) at its western edge, and three mountain ranges (Macdonnell, Musgrave, and Petermann) that stretch to its eastern edge. From these ranges southward, the Western Plateau is generally a flat tableland, with dramatic outcroppings of granite or sandstone. Four deserts are situated on the Western Plateau. The dry central part of the Western Plateau is popularly referred to as the "Outback." The Darling Range, also known as the Darling Scarp, is found along the plateau's southwest coast.


Several bodies of water surround Australia. Along the northern coast lie the Timor Sea (northwest of Darwin) and the Arafura Sea (directly north of Darwin between Australia and the neighboring nations of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea). The Coral Sea lies east of the Cape York Peninsula along the northeast coast. Stretching directly east is the Pacific Ocean. The Tasman Sea lies along the southeast shore of mainland Australia northeast of Tasmania Island. (Tasmania and the Tasman Sea are both named for the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who arrived in Tasmania in 1642.) Finally, the Indian Ocean surrounds the southern and western coasts of mainland Australia.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

The Grea Barrier Reef, the world's longest coral reef, extends for 2,010 kilometers (1,250 miles) just off the northeast coast of Queensland. It encompasses 207,000 square kilometers (79,902 square miles), and it supports a marine ecosystem that includes islands as well as coral reefs. Lake Alexandrina, a coastal inlet that is sometimes referred to as a coastal lake, is situated near Meningie to the southeast of Adelaide and to the east of the Great Australian Bight.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The coastline of Australia features a number of gulfs where the land curves around the sea. The Gulf of Carpentaria forms a deep U -shape on the northeast coast between Arnhem Land and Cape York Peninsula. In 1623 Djan Carstensz, a Dutch explorer, named the gulf in honor of Pieter de Carpentier, who was then the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). Another Dutch East Indies governor-general, Anthony van Diemen, gave his name in 1644 to Van Diemen Gulf, which lies just west of the Gulf of Carpentaria between Darwin and Melville Island. To the south of Van Diemen Gulf is Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, named in honor of eighteenth-century French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's older brother by a French explorer in 1803.

To the south, the Great Australian Bight is formed by a large semicircular curve in the southern coast. ("Bight" describes a bend in a coastline or the bay that is formed by a curving coastline.) Along its eastern edge near Port Lincoln is Spencer Gulf, a finger-shaped gulf which points northward about 320 kilometers (198 miles) into South Australia. Bass Strait lies between Tasmania and the mainland. In 1798, explorers George Bass and Matthew Flinders sailed through the strait, demonstrating for the first time that Tasmania was an island.

Islands and Archipelagos

The state of Tasmania (sometimes called Tasmania Island) is a large island located 241 kilometers (150 miles) off the southeastern coast of the mainland. Tasmania has the same geology as the Eastern Highlands, with rugged terrain and a large central plateau. Elevations reach 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) on Tasmania. Between Tasmania and the mainland in the Bass Strait lie King Island and Flinders Island.

Two of Australia's largest islands lie off the northern coast of Northern Territory. To the west of Darwin is the largest, Melville Island, measuring 5,786 square kilometers (2,333 square miles). To the east in the Gulf of Carpentaria is Groote Eylandt (Dutch for "Great Island"), which covers 2,285 square kilometers (882 square miles), and Mornington Island. North of Broome in Western Australia lie the three uninhabited Ashmore Islands, as well as Cartier Island, which was annexed as part of the Northern Territory in 1938. Kangaroo Island, off the southern coast near Adelaide in South Australia, measures 4,416 square kilometers (1,718 square miles). Fraser Island, a part of Queensland that covers 1,643 square kilometers (634 square miles), is the largest all-sand island in the world.

To the northwest, the Bonaparte Archipelago features numerous small, rocky islands and a deeply indented coastline.

Coastal Features

Many peninsulas extend along the coast. In the northeast, the Cape York Peninsula points north toward Papua New Guinea. Across the Gulf of Carpentaria, Arnhem Land represents the edge of the Western Plateau and features rugged highlands and broad valleys. To the northwest, the Eighty Mile Beach, a stretch of sandy beachfront, marks the coastal edge of the Great Sandy Desert. Just off the high cliffs that mark the shore southwest of Melbourne, limestone pillars known as the Twelve Apostles emerge from the sea.


There are no notable lakes in Australia.


The most important and longest continuous river system in Australia, referred to as the Murray-Darling River System, flows through parts of four states: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. This river system provides the water for 80 percent of the irrigated land in the country. With an annual runoff volume of 22.7 billion cubic meters (801.6 billion cubic feet) of water, the Murray-Darling River System is Australia's largest. Compared to the world's largest river system, the Amazon River in South America, however, the Murray-Darling River system carries less than one percent of the water volume that is transported by the Amazon

The Murray-Darling River System drains an area of 1.1 million square kilometers (410,318 square miles), or about 14 percent of the total land area of the country. Measured from its source in Queensland to its mouth at Lake Alexandrina south of Adelaide, Murray-Darling measures 3,370 kilometers (2,022 miles), or about one-half the length of the world's longest river, the Nile in Egypt. The Murray River, the Darling River, and their tributaries are among the few river systems in Australia that have year-round water flow.

The Murray River measures 2,520 kilometers (1,512 miles), flowing west and southwest, eventually emptying into Lake Alexandrina, a coastal lake south of Adelaide that opens into the Indian Ocean. The Murrumbidgee River, one of the Murray's tributaries, measures 1,575 kilometers (950 miles). Other tributaries include the Lacklan and Goulburn Rivers.


A river system is made up of a principal river and its tributaries (the rivers that flow into it). A river system begins with the drainage of rainfall and ends in a large body of water, usually an ocean. After a rainstorm, rainwatercalled runoffdrains downhill until it eventually accumulates at a low point and begins to flow. As the water flows from higher to lower elevations, two or more small rivers join together to form a larger river. This larger riverusually the one that gives its name to the river systemcontinues to flow. Sometimes several other smaller rivers, called tributaries, join with the main river as it flows toward a larger body of water such as a lake or ocean.

The point at which a river flows into the ocean is called its mouth. A river system begins at a place called the source or headwaters. The source is the point farthest away from the mouth where water begins to flow. Portscities that support shipping activityoften develop at a river's mouth. Ports have docks and roads to allow goods to be transported by ships and other vehicles into and out of the country.

The Darling River, flowing from the junction of the Culgoa and Barwon Rivers in New South Wales, measures 1,390 kilometers (834 miles). The headwaters of the Darling River originate in the MacIntyre River, which forms part of the border between Queensland and New South Wales. The MacIntyre River eventually flows into the Barwon River, generally agreed to be the main source of the Darling River. The Barwon-MacIntyre section, sometimes called the Upper Darling River, measures 1,140 kilometers (700 miles).


About 35 percent of the land area of Australia is categorized as desert because it receives so little rainfall. The Great Victoria Desert (Western Australia and South Australia) is the largest individual desert, covering about 4.5 percent of Australia's total land area at approximately 348,750 square kilometers (134,618 square miles).

Other deserts, in descending order from largest to smallest, are: the Great Sandy Desert (Western Australia), representing 3.5 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 267,250 square kilometers (130,160 square miles); the Tanami (or Tanamy) Desert (Western Australia and Northern Territory), representing 2.4 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 184,500 square kilometers (71,220 square miles) just north of the MacDonnell Ranges; the Simpson Desert (Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australia), representing 2.3 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 176,500 square kilometers (68,130 square miles); the Gibson Desert (Western Australia), representing about 2 percent of Australia's total land area, covering approximately 156,000 square kilometers (60,200 square miles)

State/Territory Dam Name Reservoir Name Capacity (in millions of cubic meters) Capacity (in millions of cubic feet)
Tasmania Gordon Lake Gordon 12,450 439,485
Western Australia Ord River Lake Argyle 5,797 204,634
New South Wales Eucumbene Lake Eucumbene 4,798 169,369
Victoria Dartmouth not named 4,000 141,200
Queensland Burdekin Falls Lake Dalrymple 1,860 65,658
Northern Territory Darwin River not named 259 9,140
Australian Capital Territory Corin not named 75.5 2,665
South Australia Mount Bold Mount Bold 45.9 1,620

in the center of the state along its western border; the Little Sandy Desert (Western Australia), representing about 1.5 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 111,500 square kilometers (43,040 square miles); the Strzelecki Desert (South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales), representing 1 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 80,250 square kilometers (30,980 square miles); the Sturt Stony Desert (South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales), representing less than 1 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 29,750 square kilometers (11,484 square miles); the Tirari Desert (South Australia), representing less than 1 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 15,250 square kilometers (5,888 square miles); and the Pedirka Desert (South Australia), representing less than 1 percent of Australia's total land area, covering 1,250 square kilometers (482 square miles).


Rimming the southern edge of the Western Plateau is the Nullarbor Plain, a flat lowland region of limestone along the Great Australian Bight. (Nullarbor comes from the Latin, meaning "no trees.")

The Central Plains, also called the Central Eastern Lowlands or the Interior Lowlands, rest on large horizontal deposits of sedimentary rock, and run from the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north to western Victoria. Lake Eyre, the nation's lowest point, lies in this region.

There are rolling hills on the west coast near Perth. Other hilly areas lie near Adelaide in South Australia, and in the Eastern Highlands.


Australia is one of the flattest continents on Earth. The summit (highest point) of the highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko (2,229 meters/7,314 feet) in the southeast, can be reached by car. Mount Kosciusko, along with its surrounding plateaus and extinct volcanoes, is in the larger range known generally as the Australian Alps; the specific system that includes Mount Kosciusko is known as the Snowy Mountains.

Geographers use the term Great Divide to describe the mountains that run the length of the country in the east. These mountains are also referred to as the Great Dividing Range. The coastline in this area features deep gorges and high, sheer rock cliffs. Moving north, the highlands gradually decrease in altitude. Along the northeastern coast, the Great Divide also includes the Eastern Highlands, where the elevation is just over 900 meters (3,000 feet).

The Western Plateau features several mountain ranges. At the far western edge lies the highest of these, the Hamersley Range, which includes a peak that exceeds 1,219 meters (4,000 feet). Extending to the eastern edge of the Western Plateau are the Macdonnell Range, the Musgrave Range, and the Petermann Range.

All three ranges run from east to west and are characterized by deep gorges. The Macdonnell and Musgrave Ranges have peaks that rise to almost 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). The Darling Range, named for Sir Ralph Darling, a former governor of New South Wales, lies in the extreme southwest corner of the country. Its highest peak is Mount Cooke (582 meters/ 1,920 feet).


A network of caves punctuate the Nullarbor Plain. Among the best known are the Abrakurrie Cave and the Koonalda Caves, huge caves which are situated about 76 meters (250 feet) below ground.

Some of the most spectacular caverns are underwater along the coast. These attract scuba divers from around the world.


Forming the northern edge of the large Western Plateau, on the northwestern border of the state of Western Australia, lies the Kimberley Plateau, with elevations reaching over 900 meters (3,000 feet).

The western portion of the Western Plateau is generally a flat tableland, with dramatic outcroppings of granite or sandstone. The most well known of these is Uluru, the Aboriginal name for the location formerly known as Ayers Rock. Uluru is the world's largest monolitha large cylindrical stone outcroppingand is over 335 meters (1,100 feet) high.

In the southwest near the Darling Range, limestone pillars about the size of a person protrude from the surface of a flat, barren plain.


Dams have been built to create water storage reservoirs in every state and territory.


The Outback is a popular term that refers to the interior of the country, especially the dry center of the Western Plateau and the northern plains. Australians use the term "the bush" to refer to rural areas, especially wilderness.

Life in the Outback may be compared loosely to the rough cowboy lifestyle of the historic American West. "Outback" was first used to describe remote areas far away from civilization. Now, however, "Outback" refers to a broader picturea place where men and women struggle to live and work in a challenging environment; "the bush" simply describes the geographical places located far from cities and towns.



Australia. Des Plaines, IL: Heinemann Library, 1999.

Berendes, Mary. Australia. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 1999.

Darian-Smith, Kate. Exploration into Australia. Parsippany, NJ: New Discovery Books, 1996.

Dolce, Laura. Australia. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.

Israel, Fred L. Australia: The Unique Continent. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.

Lowe, David. Australia. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1997.

McCollum, Sean. Australia. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 1999.

North, Peter. Welcome to Australia. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 1999.

Williams, Brian, and Brenda Williams. World Book Looks at Australia. Chicago: World Book, 1998.


"Australia's Southern Seas." National Geographic, March 1987, p. 286319.

Brian, Sarah Jane. "What's Up Down Under." Contact Kids, September 2000, p. 20.

Bryson, Bill. "Australian Outback." National Geographic Traveler, October 1999, p. 86ff.

Gore, Rick. "People Like Us." National Geographic, July 2000, p. 90.

Web Sites

Australia's National Mapping Agency. (accessed March 12, 2003).

Australia Speleological Federation. (accessed March 12, 2003).

Bureau of Meteorology. "Climate Facts." (accessed March 12, 2003).

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Grated Carrot, Apple, and Raisin Salad........................ 20
Australian Meat Pie ..................................................... 21
Black Australian Coffee................................................ 22
ANZAC Biscuits ........................................................... 22
Lamingtons................................................................. 23
Christmas Shortbread.................................................. 24
Pavlova ....................................................................... 24
Quick No-Cook Mini-Pavlova ...................................... 25
Chocolate Crackles...................................................... 27
Toast with Vegemite or Milo Spread............................ 27


Australia is the world's smallest continent. Lying southeast of Asia between the Pacific and Indian oceans, its diverse landscapes and climates are home to a wide variety of plants and animals.

It is generally warm and dry all year round, with no extreme cold and little frost. Average annual rainfall is 17 inches (42 centimeters), much less than the mean for all the countries of the world of 26 inches (66 centimeters). As a result, insufficient rainfall can cause droughts that threaten to destroy crops.

The country's limited rainfall can also cause problems with water quality and availability. Because Australia produces most of its own food, a water shortage for plants and animals can cause agricultural production to suffer.


Captain Arthur Phillip of England established the first modern settlement in Australia in January 1788. The settlers were not very experienced as farmers and early agricultural practices were disastrous. Crop failure caused food shortages and even starvation. Settlers depended on goods imported from Englandsuch as tea, flour, beef, oatmeal, and cheeseto survive. They also learned to eat foods they found around them, such as fish and wild fruits and nuts.

The Australian diet has been heavily influenced by peoples from all over the world. The Potato Famine of the 1840s in Ireland led many desperate starving Irish people to leave their homeland, seeking relief in Australia (as well as Canada, the United States, and elsewhere). Gold was discovered in Australia a few years later, bringing more people to the country. Following World War II (193945), Europeans and Asians arrived in greater numbers. As a result, cuisines from other countries, such as Italy, Greece, and Lebanon, became popular. Europeans introduced tea, cocoa, coffee, fruits, and a variety of cheeses, and Asians introduced new spices and the technique of stir-fry.


The end of World War II brought about significant change in Australian cuisine. People from Europe and Asia brought new crops, seasonings, and cooking methods with them.

Wheat, rice, oranges, bananas, and grapes are just a few of the crops that grow in abundance throughout the country. Meat has always been a large part of the Australian diet, although Australians (like others around the world) began to be concerned about controlling cholesterol and fat in their diet, and decreased their consumption of meat slightly toward the end of the twentieth century. Kangaroo, though once a popular meat in Australia's early history, is no longer widely consumed; beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and seafood are more common in twenty-first century Australia.

Grated Carrot, Apple, and Raisin Salad


  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 medium red apple, chopped fine
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut, flaked
  • Juice of lemon


  1. Carefully remove several firm leaves from the head of lettuce, and arrange in a bowl.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mound mixture in the lettuce "cup." Serve with cottage cheese, chicken, or lean cold meat.

Serves 6.

A typical breakfast may consist of fruit, toast with Vegemite (a salty yeast spread), fried eggs and bacon, and juice. Lunch may be an apple or a salad (such as Grated Carrot, Apple, and Raisin salad), a sandwich filled with tuna or deli meats, and an ANZAC biscuit for a treat. (ANZAC is the acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. No one knows for sure, but many people think these biscuits were first prepared for troopsand for Australian and New Zealand familiesaround 1915 during World War I.) Dinnertime often brings leg of lamb or barbecued prawns (shrimp), roasted vegetables, a salad, and a custard or tart for dessert. Damper, a simple homemade bread, and billy tea, named for the pot it is heated in, both remain a staple for any meal.

Meat pie is considered the Australian national dish. One newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, reported some statistics about meat pie consumption in the country:

  • Almost 260 million pies are consumed every year, or almost 15 per person
  • Men eat meat pies almost twice as often as women
  • 62 percent of meat pies are filled with chopped steak (ground beef)
  • 36 percent are filled with steak and onion, steak and kidney, steak and potato, or steak and mushroom
  • Just 2 percent are filled with chicken

Australian Meat Pie


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 prepared pie shells, 8-inch


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine ground beef, ketchup, onion, salt, milk, breadcrumbs, oregano, and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Divide mixture into 2 pie shells and bake for about 45 minutes.
  5. While the pies are baking, mix together Worcestershire sauce and cheese in another bowl.
  6. After about 45 minutes, remove pies from oven.
  7. Spread Worcestershire sauce and cheese mixture on top of pie shells.
  8. Bake for about 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serves 6.

Black Australian Coffee


  • 4 heaping Tablespoons decaffeinated coffee grounds
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of dry powdered mustard (optional)
  • 1 lemon, sliced crosswise into thin rounds


  1. Measure water into a saucepan and heat.
  2. Sprinkle coffee on top of water.
  3. Add salt and mustard, if desired.
  4. Heat the mixture slowly to the boiling point.
  5. Remove from heat immediately.
  6. Let stand for 5 minutes and strain.
  7. Serve coffee with a slice of lemon in each cup.

ANZAC Biscuits


  • 1 cup margarine or butter
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Combine oatmeal, sugar, white flour, and whole-wheat flour in a bowl.
  3. Melt margarine and add corn syrup and water in a small pan over heat.
  4. Add the baking soda to pan and stir until fizzy.
  5. Pour contents in pan into the bowl with dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Shape dough into balls and flatten with a fork on a tray.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 4 dozen biscuits.



  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • Pinch of salt

For icing:

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • Shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.
  3. Slowly add baking powder, baking soda, flour, milk, and salt.
  4. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square cake pan and bake for about 45 minutes.
  5. Let cool and store overnight in a sealed container.
  6. Make icing: Measure confectioners' sugar and cocoa into a large mixing bowl.
  7. Heat milk and 2 teaspoons butter until the butter is melted. Add the milk gradually to the sugar mixture, stirring constantly. The icing should be fluid but not too runny.
  8. Cut the cooled cake into 2-inch squares, and put the coconut into a shallow baking dish. Have ready a cooling rack set over a sheet of waxed paper to catch icing drips.
  9. Holding a cake square with two forks, dip it into the icing, and then roll in the coconut. Transfer to rack to dry. Repeat until all cake square are coated.

Serves 16.

A Biscuit for a Treat?

Australians, like the English, call cookies "biscuits." They often use the nickname "bickies" or "bikkies" especially when offering a biscuit to a child (or even when offering a treat to a pet). Every household has a biscuit tin, a decorative round tin with a lid, to keep the supply of biscuits handy.


Most Australians spend holidays with family, participating in special events and preparing a festive meal. Since the temperatures are mild, meals are often consumed outdoors at a picnic or on the beach. Because Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are the opposite of those in North America and Europe. Christmas falls in the middle of summer, when most school children are on their summer vacation. A typical Christmas menu may include a variety of hot and cold meats, seafood, pasta, salads, and many types of desserts. Mince pies, fruitcake, shortbread, and plum pudding are also popular after-dinner treats.

Christmas puddings may contain a small favor baked inside. It is said that the person who finds the favor will be blessed with good luck.

Easter is also widely celebrated in Australia. A traditional menu consists of roast lamb, beef, or chicken with roasted vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas, or broccoli. Seafood, lasagna, and salads are also favorites. Pavlova, an elegant dessert made of egg whites and sugar and garnished with fruit, is a popular Easter dessert. Most children prefer candy, and chocolate eggs are Easter favorites. Treats are often shaped like an Easter bilby, an endangered Australian mammal that resembles the North American Easter bunny.

Christmas Shortbread


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cups butter, cubed
  • cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rice flour (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Grease two cookie sheets.
  3. Mix flour, sugar, and rice flour in a bowl.
  4. Add the butter by rubbing in with fingertips.
  5. Press mixture together to form a dough ball.
  6. Place dough on a lightly floured surface.
  7. Knead gently.
  8. Divide dough in half, placing one rounded, ½-inch thick piece on each cookie sheet.
  9. Gently mark out eight equal portions on each piece, radiating from the center.
  10. Prick dough with a fork.
  11. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  12. Allow the shortbread to cool and store in an airtight container.



  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup castor sugar (finer than regular sugar, but regular sugar may be substituted)
  • Whipping cream or whipped topping
  • Strawberries and kiwi for topping (other fruits or berries may be substituted)


  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with cooking parchment.
  3. In a very clean and dry bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  4. Slowly add sugar, sprinkling it into the bowl one spoonful at a time while continuing to beat the mixture until all the sugar has been added.
  5. Sprinkle in the pinch of salt, and then slowly add the vinegar and vanilla, a few drops at a time. Finally, beat in the cornstarch.
  6. Continue beating until the mixture stands in stiff peaks.
  7. Place mixture onto the center of the paper on tray, and spread it into a circle about 8 or 9 inches in diameter (20 to 22 centimeters).
  8. Make a slight indentation in the center.
  9. Place the cookie sheet on the center rack in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Do not open the oven door while the pavlova is baking.
  10. Leave pavlova in the oven to cool.
  11. When completely cool, peel off the paper and place the pavlova on a serving plate.
  12. Whip the heavy whipping cream with a teaspoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla.
  13. Spread the pavlova with whipped cream and sliced fruit (kiwi and strawberries are traditional).
  14. Slice and serve.

Quick No-Cook Mini-Pavlova

While not authentic, this recipe will produce a dessert that resembles pavlova.


  • 6 meringue shells
  • Whipped topping
  • Strawberries and kiwi, sliced


  1. Place meringue shells on a serving tray.
  2. Fill each with a generous dollop of whipped topping.
  3. Cover with sliced strawberries and kiwi.

Serves 6.


Australians traditionally spent hours in the kitchen preparing meals for family and friends. The introduction of microwave cooking helped to speed the cooking process for busy Australian families, and also helped keep their kitchens cooler. As of 2000, nearly half of all households owned a microwave oven.

Australians eat three meals each day and enjoy an afternoon break for "tea and biscuits." Breakfast is normally eaten between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Lunch is increasingly being bought on the go as fast food. Australians' afternoon "tea and biscuits," served around 4 p.m., is usually composed of tea (or other beverage) accompanied by biscuits (cookies), small sandwiches, scones, or cakes. For school children, afternoon tea is the after-school snack. Dinner, the largest meal of the day, is served around 6 p.m. and is traditionally eaten European style, with the fork in the left hand and the tines pointing down, and the knife in the right.

Children normally enjoy snacks during the day, such as fruit, a beverage, or a small sandwich. Milo, similar to instant hot chocolate mix, is often used as an ingredient in snacks or drunk alone. Lamingtons, Chocolate Crackles (similar to crispy rice cereal treats in North America), ANZAC biscuits, or just a simple fruit salad, are also popular among children.

Restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisines for those who prefer to eat out. They often offer seafood and meats that are not normally prepared at home, such as stingray and emu (similar to the ostrich). Cafes offer lunch and afternoon tea and serve as meeting places. Such places also offer a variety of beverages. Coffee is growing in popularity, although tea is preferred in the afternoon and on Sundays, a traditional day for visiting with family and friends.

Chocolate Crackles


  • 4 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening or margarine
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa


  1. Melt the shortening in a large saucepan over low heat or in a microwave oven.
  2. Add crispy rice cereal, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa to the saucepan.
  3. Spoon mixture into paper cupcake holders.
  4. Chill for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Makes 24 treats.

Toast with Vegemite or Milo Spread


  • Toast
  • Vegemite (available at some supermarkets)
  • Milo spread
  • Milo Spread
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup hot chocolate mix


  1. Toast 4 slices of bread.
  2. Spread 2 slices with Vegemite spread.
  3. Spread 2 slices with Milo spread.
  4. Cut toast into triangles and serve with milk or juice as a snack. May be eaten as a light breakfast or after-school snack.

Milo Spread

  1. To prepare Milo spread, combine butter or margarine and powdered hot chocolate mix in a bowl.
  2. Beat the mixture until well combined.
  3. Store the Milo mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator.


Beginning in the 1980s, Australian adults (like adults in many developed countries) began to improve their eating habits, according to a 1995 Australian Bureau of Statistics study. Meat, a source of saturated fat, is being consumed less. Chicken and seafood are eaten more frequently. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are also consumed more often. There is, however, also an increase in the purchase and consumption outside of the home of foods and beverages that are generally higher in fat. Approximately 64 percent of men and nearly half of all women are overweight or obese.

The study included the diet of Australian children under the age of 15. It found that around one-third of children younger than 12 had no fruit in their diets, and more than one-fifth had no vegetables. The amount of sugar consumption, however, declined and vegetable consumption increased with age. The majority of children usually eat breakfast on five or more days per week, with 12- to 15-year-olds eating breakfast the least often.

Promoting healthy eating habits among children is an important issue in Australia. The government has allocated funding for community projects, mostly for the disadvantaged. Fresh and nutritious foods are often unavailable for children in rural and remote areas. Indigenous (native) groups, such as the Aborigines, frequently live in these disadvantaged areas.



Cook, Deanna. The Kids' Multicultural Cookbook. Vermont: Williamson Publishing, 1995.

Meisel, Jacqueline Drobis. Australia: The Land Down Under (Exploring Cultures of the World). New York: Benchmark Books, 1998.

Newman, Graeme and Betsy. Good Food from Australia: A Down Under Cookbook. New York: Hippocrene Books, Inc., 1997.

Pascoe, Elise. Australia the Beautiful Cookbook. San Francisco: Collins Publishers, 1995.

Web Sites

Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001).

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. [Online] Available (accessed January 15, 2001).

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001).

Australian Tourist Commission. [Online] Available (accessed January 11, 2001).

BushLink: Inland Australia Online. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001). [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

Food Law and Policy Australia. [Online] Available (accessed January 17, 2001).

Looksmart Australia. [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

Nutrition Australia. [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

Santa's Net. [Online] Available (accessed January 10, 2001).

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Most Australians (94 percent) are of British or Irish ancestry. About 5 percent of the population is of Asian descent. Approximately 1 percent of the population is of native Australian, or aboriginal, origin. This chapter has articles on the Anglo-Australians (British or Irish origin), and on Austrialia's native population, the Aborigines.

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Of the seven continents, Australia is the flattest, smallest, and except for Antarctica , the most arid. Including the southeastern island of Tasmania, the island continent is roughly equal in area to the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii. Millions of years of geographic isolation from other land-masses accounts for Australia's unique animal species, notably

marsupial mammals like the kangaroo, egg laying mammals like the platypus, and the flightless emu bird. Excluding folded structures (areas warped by geologic forces) along Australia's east coast, patches of the northern coastline and the relatively lush island of Tasmania, the continent is mostly dry and inhospitable.

Australia has been less affected by seismic and orogenic (mountain building) forces than other continents during the past 400 million years. Although seismic (earthquake ) activity persists in the eastern and western highlands, Australia is the most stable of all continents. In the recent geological past, it has experienced none of the massive upheavals responsible for uplifting the Andes in South America , the Himalayas in south Asia , or the European Alps. Instead, Australia's topography is the result of gradual changes over millions of years.

Australia is not the oldest continent, a common mis-conception arising from the continent's flat, seemingly unchanged expanse. Geologically, it is the same age as the Americas, Asia, Africa , Europe , and Antarctica. Australia's crust , however, has escaped strong Earth forces in recent geological history, accounting for its relatively uniform appearance. As a result, the continent serves as a window to early geological ages.

About 95 million years ago, tectonic forces (movements and pressures of Earth's crust) split Australia from Antarctica and the southern supercontinent of Gondwanaland. Geologists estimate that the continent is drifting northward at a rate of approximately 18 in (28 cm) per year. They theorize that south Australia was joined to Antarctica at the Antarctic regions of Wilkes Land, including Commonwealth Bay. Over a period of 65 million years, beginning 160 million years ago, Australia's crust was stretched hundreds of miles by tectonics before it finally cleaved from Antarctica.

Testimony to the continental stretching and splitting includes Kangaroo Island off South Australia, made up of volcanic basalts, as well as thick layers of sediment along the coast of Victoria. Other signs are the similar geology of the Antarctic Commonwealth Bay and the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, especially equivalent rocks, particularly gneisses (metamorphic rocks changed by heat and pressure) of identical age. The thin crust along Australia's southern flank in the Great Australian Bight also points to continental stretch.

As it drifts north, the Australian plate is colliding with the Pacific and Eurasian plates, forming a subduction zone (an area where one continental plate descends beneath another). This zone, the convergence of the Australian continental plate with Papua New Guinea and the southern Indonesian islands, is studded with volcanos and prone to earthquakes. Yet, Australia is unique in that it is not riven by subduction zones like other continents. There are no upwelling sections of the earth's mantle below Australia (the layer below the crust), nor are there intracontinental rift zones like the East African Rift System which threatens to eventually split Africa apart.

Furthermore, Australia and Antarctica are dissimilar to other landmasses; their shapes are not rough triangles with apexes pointing southward like South America, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent, Gondwanaland's other constituent parts. However, like its sister continents, Australia is composed of three structural units. These include in Western Australia a stable and ancient block of basement rock or craton as geologists call it, an ancient fold mountain belt (the Great Dividing Range along the east coast), and a flat platform-like area in-between composed of crystalline or folded rocks overlaid by flat-lying or only gently deformed sediments.

Millions of years of erosion have scoured Australia's surface features. One notable exception to Australia's flat topography is the Great Dividing Range stretching 1,200 mi (1,931 km) along Australia's east coast. The Great Dividing Range was thrust up by geological folding like the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. The mountains are superimposed on larger geological structures including the Tasman and Newcastle geosynclines, troughs of older rocks upon which thick layers of sediment have been deposited. Those sediments in turn have been transformed by folding as well as magmatic and volcanic forces.

Twice, during a 125 million year period beginning 400 million years ago, the geosynclines were compressed, forming mountains and initiating volcanoes. Volcanic activity recurred along the Great Dividing Range 2025 million years ago during the Miocene Epoch when early apes evolved as well as seals, dolphins, sunflowers, and bears. However, over millions of years the volcanic cones from this epoch have been stripped down by erosion. Still, volcanic activity persisted in South Australia until less than a million years ago. In Queensland, near Brisbane in the south and Cairns in the north of the state, the Great Dividing Range hugs the coast, creating beautiful Riviera-like vistas.

East of the Great Dividing Range, along Australia's narrow eastern coastal basin are its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the capital, Canberra. The Dividing Range tends to trap moisture from easterly weather fronts originating in the Pacific Ocean. Rivers and streams also course the Range. West of the Range the landscape becomes increasingly forbidding and the weather hot and dry.

Although unrelated to geological forces, the world's largest coral formation, the Great Barrier Reef stretches for 1,245 mi (2,003 km) along Australia's northeast coast. Most of Australia is referred to as outbackdesert and semi-desert flatness, broken only by scrub, salt lakes which are actually dry lakebeds most of the year, and a few spectacular sandstone proturburances like Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta).

In 1991, geologists discovered a subterranean electrical current in Australia, the longest in the world, which passes through more than 3,700 mi (6,000 km) across the Australian outback. The current is conducted by sedimentary rocks in a long horseshoe arc that skirts a huge mass of older igneous and metamorphic rock comprising most of the Northern Territory. It begins at Broome in Western Australia near the Timor Sea and then dips south across South Australia before curling northward through western Queensland where it terminates in the Gulf of Carpenteria.

A side branch runs from Birdsville in South Australia near the Flinders Ranges into Spencer Gulf near Adelaide. Geologists say the current is induced by the Earth's everchanging magnetic field and that it runs along fracture zones in sedimentary basins that were formed as the Earth's ancient plates collided. Although the fracture zones contain alkaline fluids that are good conductors of electricity , the current is weak and cannot even light a lamp. Geologists say the current might provide clues to deposits of oil and gas and help explain the geological origins of the Australian continent.

Australian topography is also punctuated by starkly beautiful mountain ranges in the middle of the continent like the McDonnell and Musgrave Ranges, north and south respectively of Uluru (Ayers Rock). Uluru, the most sacred site in the country for Australia's aborigines, is a sandstone monolith of which two-thirds is believed to be below the surface. Ayers Rock is about 2.2 mi (3.5 km) long and 1,131 ft (339 m) high. Also in the center of the country, near Alice Springs, are the Henbury Meteorite craters, one of the largest clusters of meteorite craters in the world. The largest of these depressions, formed by the impact of an extraterrestrial rock, is about 591 ft (177 m) long and 49 ft (15 m) deep.

The continent's oldest rocks are in the Western Australian shield in southwest Australia. The basement (underlying) rocks in this area have not been folded since the Archean eon over three billion years ago, when the planet was still very young. The nucleus of this shield (called the Yilgarn craton) comprising 230,000 sq mi (59,570,000 ha), consists mostly of granite with belts of metamorphic rock like green-stones, rich in economic mineral deposits as well as intrusions of formerly molten rock.

The Yilgarn craton does not quite extend to the coast of Western Australia. It is bounded on the west by the Darling Fault near Perth. To the south and east the Frazer Fault sets off the craton from somewhat younger rocks that were metamorphosed between 2.5 billion and two billion years ago. Both fault lines are 600 mi (960 km) long and are considered major structures on the continent.

Along the north coast of Western Australia near Port Hedland is another nucleus of ancient rocks, the Pilbara Craton. The Pilbara craton is composed of granites over three billion years old as well as volcanic, greenstone, and sedimentary rocks. The Hammersley Range just south of the Pilbara Craton is estimated to contain billions of tons of iron ore reserves.

Other ancient rock masses in Australia are the Arunta Complex north of Alice Springs in the center of Australia which dates to 2.25 billion years ago. The MacArthur Basin, southwest of the Gulf of Carpenteria in the Northern Territory is a belt of sedimentary rocks that are between 1.8 billion and 1.5 billion years old.

The Musgrave block near the continent's center, a component of the Adelaidian geosyncline, was formed by the repeated intrusion of molten rocks between 1.4 billion to one billion years ago during the Proterozoic Era when algae, jellyfish, and worms first arose. At the same time, the rocks that underlay the Adelaidian geosyncline were downwarped by geological pressures, with sediments building up through mid-Cambrian times (about 535 million years ago) when the area was inundated 400 mi (640 km) by the sea inland of the present coastline.

The rocks of the Adelaidian geosyncline are as thick as 10 mi (16 km) with sediments that have been extensively folded and subjected to faulting during late Precambrian and early Paleozoic times (about 600 million to 500 million years ago). Some of the rocks of the Adelaidian geosyncline, however, are unaltered. These strata show evidence of a major glacial period around 740 million years ago and contain some of the continent's richest, most diverse fossil records of soft-bodied animals.

This glaciation was one manifestation of global cooling that caused glacial episodes on other continents. Geologists say this Precambrian glacial episode was probably one of coldest, most extensive cooling periods in Earth history. They also consider the Adelaide geosyncline to be the precursor of another downwarp related to the most extensive folded belts on the continent, namely the Tasman geosyncline along Australia's east flank.

Victoria is also characterized by a belt of old rocks upon which sediments have been deposited called the Lachlan geosyncline. Marine rocks were deposited in quiet water to great thicknesses in Victoria, forming black shales. Some of the sediment was built up by mud-laden currents from higher areas on the sea floor. These current-borne sediments have produced muddy sandstones called graywackes.

At the end of the Ordovician and early Silurian Periods (about 425 million years ago) there was widespread folding of the Lachlan geosyncline called the Benambran orogeny . The folding was accompanied by granite intrusions and is thought to be responsible for the composition and texture of the rocks of the Snowy Mountains in Victoria, including Mt. Kosciusko, Australia's tallest peak at 7,310 ft (2,193 m).

In eastern Australia, Paleozoic Era volcanic activity built up much of the rock strata. Mountain glaciation during the late Carboniferous period when insects, amphibians, and early reptiles first evolved also transformed the landscape. Mountain building in eastern Australia culminated during the middle and later Permian Period (about 250 million years ago) when a huge mass of magma (underground molten rock) was emplaced in older rocks in the New England area of northeastern New South Wales. This huge mass, or batholith , caused extensive folding to the west and ended the sedimentation phase of the Tasman geosyncline. It was also the last major episode of orogeny (mountain building) on the continent.

In parts of Western Australia, particularly the Carnarvon Basin at the mouth of the Gascoyne River, glacial sediments are as thick as 3 mi (5 km). Western Australia, particularly along the coast, has been inundated repeatedly by the sea and has been described by geologists as a mobile shelf area. This is reflected in the alternating strata of deposited marine and non-marine layers.

In the center of Australia is a large sedimentary basin or depression spanning 450 mi (720 km) from east to west and 160 mi (256 km) north to south at its widest point. Sedimentary rocks of all varieties can be found in the basin rocks which erosion shaped into spectacular scenery including Ayres Rock and Mt. Olga. These deposits are mostly of Precambrian age (over 570 million years old), while sediment along the present-day coastline including those in the Eucla Basin off the Great Australian Bight are less than 70 million years old. North of the Eucla Basin is the Nullarbor (meaning treeless) Plain which contains many unexplored limestone caves.

Dominating interior southern Queensland is the Great Artesian Basin, which features non-marine sands built up during the Jurassic Period (190 million to 130 million years ago), sands which contain much of the basin's artesian water. Thousands of holes have been bored in the Great Artesian Basin to extract the water resources underneath but the salt content of water from the basin is relatively high and the water supplies have been used for livestock only.

The Sydney basin formed over the folded rocks of the Tasman geosyncline and is also considered to be an extension of the Great Artesian Basins. Composed of sediments from the Permian and Triassic Periods (290 million to 190 million years old) it extends south and eastward along the continental shelf . The sandstone cliffs around Sydney Harbor, often exploited for building stones, date from Triassic sediments.

Minerals in Australia have had a tremendous impact on the country's human history and patterns of settlement. Alluvial gold (gold sediments deposited by rivers and streams) spurred several gold fevers and set the stage for Australia's present demographic patterns. During the post-World War II period there has been almost a continuous run of mineral discoveries, including gold, bauxite, iron, and manganese reserves as well as opals, sapphires, and other precious stones.

It is estimated that Australia has 24 billion tons (22 billion tones) of coal reserves, over one-quarter of which (7 billion tons/6 billion tones) is anthracite or black coal deposited in Permian sediments in the Sydney Basin of New South Wales and in Queensland. Brown coal suitable for electricity production in found in Victoria. Australia meets its domestic coal consumption needs with its own reserves and exports the surplus.

Australia supplies much of its oil consumption needs domestically. The first Australian oil discoveries were in southern Queensland near Moonie. Australian oil production now amounts to about 25 million barrels per year and includes pumping from oil fields off northwestern Australia near Barrow Island, Mereenie in the southern Northern Territory, and fields in the Bass Strait. The Barrow Islands, Mereenie, and Bass Strait fields are also sites of natural gas production.

Australia has rich deposits of uranium ore, which is refined for use for fuel for the nuclear power industry. Western Queensland, near Mount Isa and Cloncurry contains three billion tons (2.7 billion tones) of uranium ore reserves. There are also uranium deposits in Arnhem Land in far northern Australia, as well as in Queensland and Victoria.

Australia is also extremely rich in zinc reserves, the principal sources for which are Mt. Isa and Mt. Morgan in Queensland. The Northern Territory also has lead and zinc mines as well as vast reserves of bauxite (aluminum ore), namely at Weipa on the Gulf of Carpenteria and at Gove in Arnhem Land.

Gold production in Australia has declined from a peak production of four million fine ounces in 1904 to several hundred thousand fine ounces. Most gold is extracted from the Kalgoorlie-Norseman area of Western Australia. The continent is also well known for its precious stones, particularly white and black opals from South Australia and western New South Wales. There are sapphires and topaz in Queensland and in the New England District of northeastern New South Wales.

Because of its aridity, Australia suffers from leached, sandy, and salty soils. The continent's largely arid land and marginal water resources represent challenges for conservation and prudent environmental management. One challenge is to maximize the use of these resources for human beings while preserving ecosystems for animal and plant life.

See also Beach and shoreline dynamics; Continental drift theory; Desert and desertification; Earth (planet); Industrial minerals; Plate tectonics; Weathering and weathering series

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Australiamyalgia, nostalgia •sporangia •florilegia, quadriplegia •Phrygia • Thuringia • loggia • Borgia •apologia, eulogia •Perugia •Czechoslovakia, Slovakia •Saskia •clarkia, souvlakia •rudbeckia •fakir, Wallachia •Ischia •Antalya, espalier, pallia, rallier •shilly-shallyer • Somalia •hotelier, Montpellier, sommelier, St Helier •Australia, azalea, bacchanalia, Castalia, dahlia, echolalia, genitalia, inter alia, Lupercalia, Mahalia, marginalia, paraphernalia, regalia, Saturnalia, Thalia, Westphalia •Amelia, camellia, Celia, Cordelia, Cornelia, Delia, Elia, epithelia, Karelia, Montpelier, Ophelia, psychedelia •bougainvillea, Brasília, cilia, conciliar, familiar, haemophilia (US hemophilia), Hillier, juvenilia, memorabilia, necrophilia, paedophilia (US pedophilia), sedilia •chanticleer •collier, volleyer •cochlea • haulier •Anatolia, magnolia, melancholia, Mongolia •Apulia, dulia, Julia, peculiar •nuclear, sub-nuclear, thermonuclear •buddleia

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Commonwealth of Australia



Australia is a continent and a country in the Southern Hemisphere, lying to the south of Southeast Asia, and dividing the Indian and South Pa cific Oceans. The total area of Australia is 7,686,850 square kilometers (2,967,892 square miles), with land constituting 7,617,930 square kilometers (2,942,282 square miles) and water 68,920 square kilometers (26,610 square miles). Australia is about the same size as the United States, not including Alaska. The only country that occupies an entire continent, the Commonwealth of Australia does not share any land boundaries with other nations. The length of the country's coastline is 25,760 kilometers (16,007 miles). The capital, Canberra, is lo cated in the southeast corner of the nation and lies ap proximately halfway between the 2 largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.


The population of Australia was 19,169,083 as of July 2000, with a population density of about 2.4 people per square kilometer (6.19 people per square mile). Most of the population is concentrated along the southeast coast of the country, in an arc running from the city of Brisbane to the city of Adelaide. This arc is sometimes called the "boomerang coast" because of its shape. All of Australia's large cities (those with more than 1 million people)Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaideare on the coast. The population living inland (more than 200 kilometers, or 124 miles, from the coast) is rather small, and a large part of this region, called the Outback, is extremely sparsely populated. Australia's population is mostly urbanized, with about 88 percent of its people living in an urban area. Sydney alone has over 20 percent of the country's people.

Australia's population has become increasingly multicultural. In 2000, 21.8 percent of Australia's people were born overseas. Australia is still a land of immigrants and each year attracts new residents from all over the world. Fewer than 3 percent of the population is identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (the latter being a Melanesian group native to northern Queensland). The country's population has doubled since World War II. With the exception of rapid growth shortly after the war, Australia's population growth has been steady at around 1 to 1.5 percent annually. The population in 1985 was 15.75 million, and in 1990 it was 17.06 million. The country's population is expected to reach 21 million by 2010. The Australian government has not found the need to create explicit population controls, given this slow rate of increase. Australia has a slowly aging population, with 21 percent between the ages of 0-14, 67 percent between 15-64, and 12 percent over the age of 65.


The Australian economy developed rapidly in the twentieth century to become relatively stable and prosperous in world terms. Australia is characterized by an abundance of resources and a diverse yet predominantly primary sector-oriented economy. Grains, livestock, minerals, processed metals, and coal have been the mainstays of economic growth since European settlement in 1788 and continue to play the dominant role in export revenue. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita continues to be high, with Australia ranked 17th out of 191 countries, with a GDP per capita of about US$17,575 in 1998. Australia's standard of living and lifestyle are similar to those of the United States and Europe.

Australia's economy depends on trade. Traditionally, Australia exported raw materials to its former colonial power, Great Britain, and to other European countries. When Great Britain joined what is now called the European Union (EU), trade between Great Britain and Australia declined. Australia has compensated by seeking new markets for its exports in Asia, especially in Japan and Southeast Asia. Japan, especially, has been a major purchaser of Australia's mineral and agricultural products. With the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, Australia sought to increase its exports to Europe and the United States while still maintaining a high level of trade with Asia.

Australia's geographic position and its topography have had an impact on its economy. The country is located relatively far from most world population centers and markets. Australia's immediate neighbors, with the exception of New Zealand, are developing countries. The Australian continent is generally dry and contains poor soils, limiting agricultural potential and requiring imports of water and fertilizers. Most of the continent's interior, the Outback, is unsuitable for agriculture except for limited cattle grazing. Australia is a generally flat continent with its few small mountain ranges being low in elevation; they primarily run north-south at the eastern edge of the country. Obstacles to road and railroad building are generally the great distances between population centers and between resources and population centers.

Australia's dependence on mineral and agricultural exports and the small size of the country's economy mean that it is exposed to fluctuations in world commodity prices. Fortunately, the diversity of minerals and agricultural products in Australia means that when some commodity prices are low, others are likely to be high, protecting the Australian economy from devastating shocks. Australia is self-sufficient in most resources including food and minerals; the major exception is oil, of which 20 percent of Australia's needs must be imported.

In the 1990s, the Australian government encouraged the privatization of government-owned companies. Large blocks of government-owned shares in the national telephone company, Telstra, and the national airline, Qantas, among other companies, were sold to the public. The Australian government has increasingly pursued a more free market approach to its economy, with fewer regulations and controls on business.

Australia's external debt is estimated at US$222 billion, and in 2000 the debt was estimated at approximately 3.3 percent of the GDP. The hosting of the Summer Olympic Games in 2000 contributed significantly to the rise in debt. However, Australia's debt has been declining as a percentage of both value of exports and GDP. Debt servicing continues but has little effect upon the performance of the economy as a whole, as it is large and strong enough to make interest payments without problems.

Australia is a contributor to global aid programs, but most aid is concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia contributes US$1.43 billion in overseas aid per year, and a significant proportion of this goes to Papua New Guinea, which is Australia's nearest neighbor and a former Australian colony. Australia is seen as a safe investment target for both domestic and overseas corporations. The mix of small, medium, and large companies is similar to that of the United States or Great Britain.


The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal system with 6 states, 2 domestic territories, and a number of overseas territories, the latter consisting of small islands and a part of Antarctica. (However, the United States and many other countries do not recognize Australia's or any other country's territorial claims in Antarctica.) The 6 states are New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia. The 2 domestic territories are the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, the last of which, a small district containing the national capital, Canberra, is similar politically to the District of Columbia in the United States.

Australia is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II of England as the formal head of state. She is represented in Australia by a governor general. In practice, the political system is headed by the prime minister and the Australian parliament, which resembles that of Great Britain or Canada. Australia's parliament has 2 houses: the lower is the House of Representatives and the upper is the Senate. Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth. This organization of former British territories should not be confused with the formal name of the country, the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia's national government is usually called the Commonwealth government.

The major political parties in Australia are the Australian Labor Party, Australian Democratic Party, Liberal Party, National Party, and Green Party. The current Commonwealth government is a coalition of the conservative Liberal and National parties. The economic goals of these 2 parties are the promotion of free enterprise through reducing government regulation, privatization of government enterprises, and decentralization of government services, policies similar to those of the Republican Party in the United States. The leading opposition party, Labor, advocates policies similar to those of the Democratic Party in the United States.

Australia has a federal system, like that of the United States, which means that government income and expenditure is divided between the Commonwealth and state governments. Approximately half of the national government's revenues derive from a national income tax . Other leading sources of the national government's income include company taxes, sales taxes, excise duties , interest and dividends on investments, and various other taxes. The principal expenditures of the national government include social security programs, which account for about 37 percent of expenditures, followed by health care at about 15 percent, assistance to state governments at about 12 percent, defense at about 7.5 percent, general public services at about 7 percent, and education at about 7 percent, with other expenditures making up the remainder.

For state governments, most revenue (about 52 percent) is derived from various state taxes, followed by transfers and payments from the national government (40 percent), and income from public utilities (8 percent). The major state government expenditures are on health, education, general services, transportation, law and order, community services, and other matters including cultural and environmental issues.

The Commonwealth government has played a very active role in the development of the economy towards reduced regulation, lowering of taxation rates, and the privatization of government corporations such as Telstra, the largest telephone company. Foreign investment is generally unrestricted and the United States is the largest source of foreign direct investment . The government does not usually interfere with the takeovers of domestic enterprises by foreign investors, nor does it offer any tax incentives for foreign investment. The Federal Treasury, however, regulates foreign investment through the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). This regulation is a screening process to ensure conformity with Australian law and policy. As with many government controls, the greater part of regulating, promoting, and developing investment has been handed down to the control of the Australian states. Recent tax reform has introduced a 10 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) nationwide, which replaced former taxes such as payroll and wholesale taxes. Most goods and services are now taxed through the GST at the flat rate of 10 percent. Corporate income, capital gains, and branch tax rates are all 36 percent. Personal income taxes are progressive, meaning that the rates increase with the taxpayer's income.

The Australian Defense Force, comprising army, navy, and air force branches, has 54,000 personnel currently serving, and in 1997 recorded an expenditure of US$8.4 billion. The Australian Defense Force is apolitical and does not play any role in economic development. The government has recently sought to increase funding for the Defense Force because of political instability in neighboring countries such as Fiji and Indonesia.


Australia's transport and communications infrastructure has developed rapidly in close conjunction with the expansion of the country's main industries. The development of transport infrastructure in Australia has been almost entirely related to moving commodities for sale in cities or to gaining access to seaports.


In 1996, Australia had 913,000 kilometers (567,338 miles) of roads, of which 353,331 kilometers (219,559 miles) were paved. Freeways constitute 13,630 kilometers (8,469 miles) of total roads in Australia. Road infrastructure in Australia is generally very good. Both urban and inter-city roads are well developed across the country. However, congestion, especially that caused by competition between freight and passenger road users, is becoming a problem in the large cities. The main cities affected are Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane; Sydney has the worst congestion problems, followed by Melbourne, then Brisbane. Intra-urban movement constitutes about half the total tonnage of road freight in Australia.


In 1999 there was a total of 33,819 kilometers (21,015 miles) of rail lines in Australia. Rail infrastructure exists in both urban networks (mostly commuter rail) and regional networks (mostly freight rail). Rail infrastructure in Australia has never received much government support, despite the country's relatively flat topography and large distances. The consequence has been the development of a few high demand corridors being serviced by relatively poor infrastructure. While current rail infrastructure has sufficient capacity to deal with demand, major investments, totaling at least US$2 billion, have been identified as necessary to deal with the expected increase

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Australia 293 1,376 639 43.6 286 48.6 411.6 477.85 6,000
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
India NA 121 69 18.8 1 0.2 2.7 0.18 2,800
Indonesia 24 24 156 136 N/A 5 0.9 8.2 0.76 900
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

in transport demand over the next 20 years. Additionally, conflicts between commuter and freight rail operators are becoming typical of the rail transport centers of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.


Australia currently has 408 airports, 15 of which serve as major intersections and destinations. The national air carrier is Qantas Airways. The country's second largest air carrier, Ansett Airlines, also has an extensive domestic network. The primary commercial airports are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth. There are an additional 254 regional airports with paved runways across the country. Almost all of Australia's air movements constitute passenger travel. While Australia's air infrastructure is well developed, it has become increasingly overused and overworked and faces increasing maintenance and development costs. Between 2000 and 2020, an estimated US$1.4 billion in new investment will be required to adequately service air travel demand. Of this amount, roughly 67 percent will be directed at terminal expansion for the primary international airports. Currently, Australia's largest and most congested airport, the Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, remains efficient by world standards. Australia's main regional airports (Canberra, Coolangatta, Cairns, Darwin, and Hobart) are operating within capacity.


Australia has 14 major seaports, including Fremantle (Perth), Darwin, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Port Kembla, Adelaide, Melbourne, Davenport, and Hobart. In addition, export-dedicated seaports are located at Gladstone, Weipa, Hay Point, Dampier, and Port Hedland. Australian seaports are currently under-utilized, and most ports have the infrastructure to meet demand for the next 2 decades. The Bureau of Transport and Communication Economics found in 1996 that spending on infrastructure development will not likely exceed US$500 million over the next 20 years.


Australia does not import or export electricity. The country produces its own electricity supply, which is generated from coal (89.85 percent), hydro-electricity (8.35 percent), and other sources, mainly renewable energy (1.8 percent). Australia does not generate or consume electricity from atomic power. Total electricity production in Australia was 186.39 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 1998, with total consumption being 173.34 billion kWh for the same year.


In 1997, there were 9.5 million phone lines in use in Australia, representing a 15 percent increase since 1993. For the same period (1993-97), subscriptions to cellular phone networks increased 667.3 percent, with a total of 3.8 million users in 1997. Thus, Australia has one of the world's highest rates of cellular phone use. Recent upgrades to the digital phone system have achieved almost total coverage across the country. In 1999 Australia had 709 Internet service providers.


The export of agricultural and mineral resources has been the mainstay of Australia's economy for many years and continues to be a significant contributor to the GDP. Commodities produced in these sectors generate 57 percent of the value of total exports. The services sector (driven partly by the continuing development of the tourism industry) makes up an increasingly dominant proportion of GDP. The dependence on the export value of commodities puts Australia somewhat at the mercy of fluctuations in world commodity prices. Australia's attempts to increase manufactures have met with competition from the global market. Therefore, Australia has focused on developing its service sector.

During the 1990s, many Australian government-owned or partially government-owned companies were privatized or partially privatized. Notable examples of this process include the partial privatization of the Commonwealth Bank, the national airline Qantas, and the telephone company Telstra. Currently, public enterprises account for about 10 percent of total economic output in the country.

Australian companies are regulated by a number of government agencies. Chief among these is the Trade Practices Commission, which has the responsibility of encouraging competition and preventing monopolization in any industry. The Trade Practices Commission is concerned with price discrimination, resale price maintenance, misuse of market power, types of exclusive dealing, and anticompetitive agreements. Another government body, the Prices Surveillance Authority, identifies prices that are deemed excessive and establishes inquiries to determine if high prices result from anti-competitive or collusive company behavior. A third government body, the Industry Commission, is concerned with the allocation of resources in the economy as a whole. The Industry Commission advises the government on the setting of tariffs and other protective barriers needed to support Australian industry or to make it more competitive globally.


Historically, agriculture has been as important in the development of Australia, as it was in the United States. Australia's traditional dominance in wheat and sheep continues into the 21st century. Recently Australian agriculture has become increasingly diversified. The considerable expanses of arable land have helped Australia to become a leading world exporter of grains, meats, and wool. Both grains (predominantly wheat and barley) and wool markets around the world are dominated by Australian exports. The market for cattle is more regional but is becoming increasingly important globally, given health concerns about European-produced beef. While only about 6 percent of Australia is suitable for crops and pasture, a considerable amount (60 percent) of the land area is suitable for cattle grazing.

Agriculture contributes roughly 3 percent of the GDP and employs about 4 percent of the total workforce directly. While the sector's contribution to the GDP is small, raw and unprocessed agricultural commodities contribute about a quarter of Australia's total export earnings each year. Australia exports a great deal more agricultural produce than it imports. In 1998 agricultural exports from Australia were estimated at US$15.14 billion, in comparison to the US$3.11 billion worth of agricultural imports for the same year. The main agricultural crops grown in Australia are wheat, coarse grains (barley, oats, sorghum, maize, and triticale), rice, oilseeds (canola, sunflowers, soybeans, and peanuts), grain legumes (lupins and chick peas), sugarcane, cotton, fruits, grapes, tobacco, and vegetables. The main livestock production is in sheep (wool and lamb), beef, pork, poultry, and dairy products. Exports account for over 90 percent of wool and cotton production, nearly 80 percent of wheat, over 50 percent of barley and rice, over 40 percent of beef and grain legumes, over 30 percent of dairy products, and nearly 20 percent of fruit production.

The distribution of agricultural production in Australia is largely determined by the physical environment and climate. The traditional large farm system of wheat and sheep production is spread fairly uniformly between parts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria produce the majority of beef, and New South Wales has the largest and most numerous poultry farms. Sugarcane and large-scale vegetable production occurs almost entirely in the tropical state of Queensland, while cotton is produced in both New South Wales and Queensland. Tropical fruits, such as mangoes and bananas, are grown in parts of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory.

A notable characteristic of Australian farming and agricultural production is the extent to which net farm income varies from year to year. Australia's weather is subject to extreme fluctuations, which has an impact on annual production and ultimately on farm income.

Farm sizes range from relatively small part-time farms to operations of more than 5000 hectares. In general, Australian farming is characterized by large scale, highly mechanized and efficient operations, one of the key reasons why only a small percentage of the workforce is employed in this sector. Environmental factors have long been ignored in the production of agricultural commodities due to their importance to the economy. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, Australia is forced to pay more attention to the growing evidence of environmental stress and degradation caused by farming. In the past, the agricultural sector carried considerable political weight, being represented by the Labor and National political parties. Currently, there is increasing political pressure from urban residents to remove most subsidies and other forms of protection given to farmers. Australian farmers already do not receive many of the subsidies given to farmers in the United States and Europe.



Australia's mining sector is important to both Australia and the world. The mineral sector is the largest primary sector in the economy, accounting for 6.5 percent of the GDP but for more than 60 percent of export earnings. World-wide, Australia is the third largest producer of minerals and metals (not including coal and petroleum). About 80 percent of total mineral production is exported.

Australia is the world's leading producer of alumina and bauxite (both used in the production of aluminum), diamonds (mainly industrial, not gems), opals, and sapphires. The country is the world's second largest producer of lead and zinc; the third largest producer of gold and iron ore; the fourth largest producer of cobalt and uranium; the fifth largest producer of aluminum, coal, copper, nickel, and silver; and the sixth largest producer of salt. Australia is virtually self-sufficient in most minerals and metals. The main exception is oil, but Australia does produce 80 percent of its own needs, mainly from offshore wells. However, Australia does have large deposits of coal, natural gas, liquified petroleum gas, and uranium, all of which are exported.

Many minerals are widespread throughout the country, but others are concentrated in particular areas. Most mining takes place in remote or rural Australia. Bauxite, diamond, and iron ore production is concentrated in the tropical north. Coal, lead, and zinc are mined primarily in New South Wales and Queensland. Uranium production is limited to a few mines in the Northern Territory and South Australia. Every Australian state and the Northern Territory have substantial mining activity. Most of Australia's oil is found offshore. The northwestern coast of the continent and Bass Strait, between Tasmania and the mainland, are the principal locations for petroleum extraction.

Of Australia's total mineral and energy production, 40 percent consists of metals, 30 percent of petroleum group products, 25 percent of coal, and 5 percent of industrial minerals (such as construction materials, clay, and salt).

Minerals of particular interest include coal, which is the largest foreign exchange earner in the sector, accounting for 25 percent of the minerals sector and 15 percent of the country's total export earnings. Australia is the sixth largest producer of coal in the world, but the world's largest exporter, most of which is sold to Japan and other Asian countries.

Australia's uranium mining has been controversial, as much of it has been conducted in environmentally sensitive World Heritage areas (sites recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] as having global cultural significance). Some groups have protested against Australia's mining of uranium because of its role in energy production. Australia itself does not use atomic power and operates only one experimental reactor. Australia does not sell uranium for use in weapons and maintains strict controls on exports. Foreign investment in Australia's uranium industry was allowed in 1996. Australia has the world's largest reserves of uranium, about 25 percent of world total.

With respect to the ownership of minerals and mineral rights, each Australian state owns resources in its own area, while the Commonwealth government owns resources in the territories and offshore. However, the Commonwealth government has given control over nonuranium minerals within the boundaries of the Northern Territory to the territorial government.

Mining in Australia has frequently led to conflict with Aboriginal groups over ownership of land and resources. Much of Australia's mining takes place in remote areas, including the Outback, where Aboriginal people form a high percentage of the population. Aboriginal people have protested against mining activity which disturbs or destroys sacred sites, causes environmental damage, and negatively affects the customs of Aboriginal communities. The proposed expansion of the Ranger uranium mine, at Jabiru in the Northern Territory, has been criticized by Aboriginal people living in the area. Australian legislation in the 1990s belatedly recognized Aboriginal concerns. In 1996, the Wik ruling of the High Court of Australia determined that mineral leases in Australia are subject to Aboriginal claims. The effect that this ruling will have on mining is still uncertain, but it will probably have little financial impact on the mining sector as a whole.

Foreign companies control a majority of mining, smelting, and refining in Australia. Many mineral companies are vertically integrated, in that they mine, refine, and distribute their products globally. Australia's largest mining company, Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP), is one of the world's largest mining companies. It operates in Australia as well as overseas. BHP's recent merger with the South African mining company, Billiton, made it one of the three largest mining companies in the world. The new company is known as BHPBilliton. Two other large mining companies, Anglo American (South Africa) and Rio Tinto (Great Britain), also have substantial investments in Australia.


The manufacturing sector has grown substantially since the 1950s, and while it remains a key sector in terms of its contribution to the GDP and employment, it also faces fierce competition from competing regional economies, especially those in Asia.

The relatively small population of Australia, and hence its small domestic market, has traditionally limited the development of certain types of manufacturing, such as sophisticated industrial equipment and electrical goods. Otherwise Australia is well equipped locally to produce most manufactured goods competitively. Key manufacturing industries in Australia are industrial machinery, chemical production, transport equipment, food processing, and steel production. Australia has the ability to manufacture most of its needs and can obtain most raw materials domestically. About one-fifth of Australia's workforce is employed in manufacturing industries, and the growth of the sector since World War II has been fairly uniform. Australia has its own automobile industry, although foreign companies have overall control and ownership. Large investors include General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. General Motors owns the Australian automobile company, Holden, that produces its own line of Australian cars.

The manufacturing sector in Australia has been stable and sound, with a broad spectrum of industries that have had little need for tariff protection or government subsidies. However, the rapid development of similar industrial manufacturing industries in Asia has created many cheaper import substitutes . High levels of industry regulation (such as union-driven working conditions) and smaller margins of trade have also put the manufacturing sector under stress. Many value-added goods, refined fossil fuels, and metal products are now produced more cheaply in Asia, reducing the competitiveness of Australia.

The manufacturing sector in Australia is located almost completely in the urbanized regions of eastern Australia, with the exception of considerable steel and primary industry production in the state of Western Australia. Working conditions are generally very good, with "award wages" (nationally legislated working conditions and minimum wages) and Occupational Health and Safety measures addressing workers' interests. In 1998, 54 percent of employees did not take any time off work because of a work-related injury or illness. The manufacturing industry is one of the most unionized employment sectors in Australia and has taken a leading role in promoting an improvement in working conditions.


The service sector contributes approximately 69.2 percent of the GDP and employs an estimated 73 percent of the labor force . The recent growth in tourism, retail , and financial services contributes to a steady increase in these numbers.


By the end of the 20th century, tourism had become Australia's largest "resource," surpassing coal in value. In 2000 approximately 4.6 million international tourists arrived in Australia, bringing an estimated US$9.02 billion into the country, a 73 percent increase from tourist revenues in 1993. International tourist arrivals for 2001 are estimated to increase substantially to 5.2 million. International tourists come mostly from New Zealand, accounting for 17 percent, and Japan, accounting for 15 percent. Tourists come from other regions as well: the Americas, 12 percent; Asia (except Japan), 26 percent; Europe, 24 percent; and others, 6 percent. Some 99 percent of international tourists in Australia arrive by air.

The Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) is responsible for promoting Australian tourism internationally. According to their recent policy statements, the ATC "positions" Australia differently in tourism markets, meaning that they present different aspects of Australia in different countries. For example, in Japan, Australia is promoted as "close, affordable, safe," and with "inspirational experiences of nature and culture." In other overseas markets, Australia is typically positioned as "the most naturally free-spirited and liberating country in the world" and as a destination for a regular vacation rather than as the "trip of a lifetime."

Australia's scenery, variety of landscapes, distinctive animals, beach culture, modern cities, and relaxed lifestyle are all promoted as reasons to visit the country. The relatively weak Australian dollar, which has steadily declined in value against the U.S. dollar, makes Australia an affordable destination, as foreign travelers increasingly receive more Australian dollars per unit of their own currency. The 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney was a major factor driving an increase in international tourism to Australia. Televised events revealed many aspects of the country to potential visitors. The success of Australian films, particularly the Crocodile Dundee series, and television programs such as Survivor II and The Crocodile Hunter have also sparked an interest in visiting Australia. International tourists are forecast to increase by an average of 7.8 percent per year until 2010.


Australia has a diverse range of retail enterprises, similar in complexity to that of the United States or Great Britain. Australian-owned national retailers are numerous but are considerably outnumbered by smaller retailers. Small businesses (those employing fewer than 20 people) accounted for 95 percent of total retail businesses but only 38 percent of total retail income in the period 1998-99. For the same period, large businesses (those employing more than 200 people) made up less than 1 percent of total retail businesses but generated 41 percent of total retail income. The remaining 4 percent of retail businesses and 21 percent of income was attributable to medium-size businesses (21-200 employees).

The larger retail businesses in Australia are mainly comprised of department stores and supermarkets, which contribute 99.6 percent of total income. At the end of June 1999, there were 98,289 retail businesses in the country, generating about US$90 billion in revenue. Since 1991-92, the number of retail businesses has increased by 18 percent, and employment in this sector has increased by 33 percent, with an annual sector-wide revenue growth rate of 5 percent. In the same period (since 1991-92) the operating profits of Australian retailers doubled.

Small businesses are most numerous and tend to dominate the total income for domestic repair and service industries, such as household equipment repair and motor vehicle services and maintenance. Small businesses also comprise the greater part of the total income for recreational goods, specialty foods, furniture, house-wares, and appliances. Small enterprises and the large national retailers alike are subject to "award conditions" which specify minimum wages and employment conditions. The retail industry, while having a very high union membership rate, is not controlled by unions, and the Commonwealth government and business alike support moves towards direct employer-employee workplace agreements.


Financial services is a growing sector in the Australian economy. With respect to commercial banking, the sector is dominated by 4 large private banks: the National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank (partially government owned), Westpac, and ANZ Bank. Together these 4 account for about 70 percent of market share and provide both retail and wholesale banking services (services to individuals and to companies). In an increasingly globalized economy, Australia's banks face international competition but have generally thrived. Australia's banking system has been consistently modernized by technological developments. For example, checks and checking accounts are no longer widely used, and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and electronic banking have replaced both the use of checks and in-person banking transactions.

Australia's financial services sector also includes many non-bank financial institutions. These include financial intermediaries such as building societies, credit unions, money market dealers, and finance companies. Building societies, similar to Savings and Loan companies in the United States, have generally been declining as they are no longer competitive and have been bought out by banks. Funds managers and trusts are other non-bank financial institutions. These institutions manage insurance funds, superannuation (retirement) funds, and real estate assets, among other matters.

Australia's central bank is the Reserve Bank of Australia, similar in concept to the Federal Reserve system in the United States. The Reserve Bank's functions include managing and issuing the currency, controlling the money supply, supervising the private banks, assisting the government in formulating economic policy, providing banking services to the government, managing the foreign exchange rate , and managing the Australian government's overseas financial holdings. The overall objectives of the Reserve Bank are to maintain the stability of Australia's currency, maintain full employment in the country, and ensure the economic prosperity of Australia.


Historically, Australia's largest trading partners were Great Britain and the rest of Europe. This historical trading relationship reflected Australia's colonization by Great Britain and the British need for new markets for manufactured goods as well as sources of raw materials. The cultural affiliation between Australia and its "mother country" also contributed to this historic trading pattern. Since the 1970s, however, Australia's international trade has shifted towards Asia and Pacific countries. When Great Britain joined what is now known as the European Union in the 1970s, Australia lost many trading advantages with that country and sought new markets closer to home. Japan, Singapore, other Southeast Asian countries, and the United States have all become important Australian trading partners. The composition of Australia's exports has largely remained the same, but new markets (including more recently South America and the Middle East) have been sought. The marked failure of some key Southeast Asian economies, particularly Indonesia, Thailand, and Hong Kong in the late 1990s, has had only a limited effect on the Australian economy. As of 2001, political events outside Australia, such as disturbances in the neighboring countries of Indonesia and Fiji, have had almost no impact on Australia's trade.

Australia's principal exports are meat, wheat, cotton, machinery and transport equipment, coal, iron ore, aluminum, gold, and other minerals. The largest destination for exports is Japan, which purchased almost US$9 billion worth of Australian products in 1999. The United States was the second-largest purchaser, at about US$4 billion, followed by South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Great Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Italy. Eight of the top twelve importers of Australian products are in Asia.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Australia
Exports Imports
1975 11.948 10.697
1980 21.944 22.399
1985 22.604 25.889
1990 39.752 41.985
1995 52.692 61.283
1998 55.895 64.668
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Australia's main imports are machinery and transportation equipment (mostly motor vehicles), computers and office machines, telecommunications equipment, oil and petroleum products, medical and pharmaceutical products, aircraft and related equipment, and clothing. Australia's largest source of imports is the United States. Australia imported nearly US$10 billion worth of goods from the United States in 1999. Other leading sources of imports to Australia are Japan, Great Britain, China, Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, Italy, and Malaysia. With the exceptions of Hong Kong and Germany, Australia's top twelve trading partners are the same for both exports and imports.

The recent (2000) sharp drop in the value of the Australian dollar, especially against the U.S. dollar, could have an impact on Australia's current trade deficit . A devalued currency means that Australia's exports become relatively cheaper, while imports become more expensive. Thus, a weak Australian dollar may give the country a competitive edge over Canada, the United States, and other countries in selling raw materials to Japan, to take one example. However, the flip side is that imported products become more expensive, as Australians require more dollars to purchase the same product. For example, a product selling for US$100 would be the equivalent of A$153 in 1999, assuming all other factors to be equal. But with the drop in the value of the Australian dollar, the same US$100 product would be the equivalent of A$192 in 2001. Therefore, many Australian consumers might find imported products too expensive and stop buying them. If this situation continues, Australia's exports could increase and its imports decrease, leading to a decline in the amount of the trade deficit.


Australia's economic performance depends on the world prices of mineral and agricultural commodities. The value of Australia's currency can considerably affect the value of export earnings. Australia has also managed to steer clear of recession and sharp fluctuations in the rate of inflation during the past 2 decades. Government policies of the 1990s, including allowing the value

Exchange rates: Australia
Australian dollars (A$) per US$1
Jan 2001 1.7995
2000 1.7173
1999 1.5497
1998 1.5888
1997 1.3439
1996 1.2773
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

of the currency to fall, deregulating industry, and encouraging foreign investment, allowed Australia to weather the Asian economic crisis of that decade. In this period, inflation was low, averaging between 1 to 3 percent per year. Inflation is a controversial topic among economists and is still not clearly understood. However, within the past 2 years price increases in Australia have been attributed to the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 percent on most products and services; the fall in the value of the Australian dollar, which makes imports more expensive; and the increase in world oil prices, which are passed on to Australian consumers. Nevertheless, steady economic growth of around 4 percent per year has characterized the greater part of economic performance.

Australia has an established stock exchange. The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) opened in 1987 through the merger of smaller, very well established (100 years or so of trading) exchanges. In 1998, there were 1,162 companies listed on the exchange.


Australia has sometimes been called a "classless society," though this is not strictly true. Class in Australia is generally defined on the basis of income or self identification. The terms "working class," "middle class," and "upper class" are all in use, but are difficult to define statistically. Social mobility in Australia is high and there are no formal or cultural obstacles to movement between social or economic classes. Australia's high level of multiculturalism, with many recent immigrants, also contributes to class mobility. Immigrants are often concerned to get the best possible education for their children so that they will move upwards economically. There are some differences in standards of living between rural and urban residents, as the cost of providing basic services to rural areas is generally higher. Rural regions often have more limited services and higher prices for consumer goods .

In Australia the general living standards are very high, but differences remain between the country's richest and poorest. Moreover, the gap between rich and poor

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Australia1 14,317 15,721 17,078 18,023 21,881
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
India 222 231 270 331 444
Indonesia 385 504 603 778 972
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Australia
Lowest 10% 2.0
Lowest 20% 5.9
Second 20% 12.0
Third 20% 17.2
Fourth 20% 23.6
Highest 20% 41.3
Highest 10% 25.4
Survey year: 1994
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

is growing. The poorest 20 percent of households earned 1 percent of private income, while the richest 20 percent earned 50 percent. For a small minority of the population (nearly all Aboriginal), levels of education and health are very low, and these people are often at or below the poverty line. Australia has been internationally criticized for this situation. The richest minority in Australia are very wealthy and play key roles in international finance. On the whole, the majority of Australia's population would probably be defined as middle class.

Poorer families in Australia are generally characterized by financial struggle and limited opportunities. The national government has an obligation to provide basic services to such families. Australia, like many developed western economies, is partly a welfare state . The poorest citizens, and those on low wages or dependant upon care, receive social security and are granted access to free or reduced price health services, education, transportation, and housing. A poorer family in Australia will most likely live in a cheaply constructed, and often highly subsidized public housing area. Many of the basic family services provided by the Commonwealth government, such as rent assistance, childcare assistance, health care, and legal aid, are often busy and run on stretched resources. This situation is more extreme in the country's rural areas. General health levels among such families are low, primarily from inferior housing, poor diet, and increased susceptibility to the abuse of alcohol and drugs. While free education has been the hallmark of the Australian school system, budget cuts have increased the actual cost of sending children to school, with poor families having to pay for many extracurricular activities. The lifestyle of a poor family in Australia is characterized by the need to work to live and support a family in the short term. Rarely, even if members of a family are employed full time, is there the financial ability to take time off work for vacations. Access to higher education, the Internet and even basic computer knowledge, and inclusion in political decision-making are all limited.

The typical family in the higher income brackets of Australian society enjoys many more opportunities, choices, and luxuries than do poorer families. Many richer families have the choice of living outside busy urban centers in rural areas within commuting distance of the cities. Those who choose to live in the major metropolitan areas enjoy spacious, well built, modern or traditional heritage housing. Education has traditionally been a priority for the richer families, and children will often be sent to private schools where the educational standards are usually far better and more inclusive of physical and personal development programs. It is not uncommon for such children to attend boarding schools in another state or region. Almost universally, higher-income families take advantage of a well-developed private health care system, with education being a key factor in better levels of health among such families. While domestic violence, drug abuse, and support services are commonly associated with poorer families in Australia, such abuses transcend socio-economic boundaries and can also occur among the richer families. Richer families have ease of access to private vehicles, typically 1 per person in the family, and the ability to take time off work for domestic and international vacations. In contrast to poorer families, substantial and self-funded retirement plans are

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Colthing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Australia 24 5 9 2 16 9 36
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
India N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Indonesia 47 3 6 5 14 3 22
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

universal among richer families. Such families easily access personal or home information and entertainment technology. Personal computers, reliable and private access to the Internet, cellular telephones, and entertainment technologies are common and form the basis of better connections to news, information, and public opinion. Richer families have a considerable political voice through their ability to make contributions to political parties, to be informed about current affairs, and to participate in debate.


In world terms, Australian working conditions are of a high standard. Australian industrial relations are characterized by fairly high union membership and a federally driven, but state determined, compulsory arbitration and conciliation system. Industrial relations practices are specified in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act (1904), which encouraged employer associations to recognize unions and empowered these unions to make working condition claims on behalf of employees. In Australia there are 7 distinct systems of industrial regulation and relations: the national system is supplemented by those of the 6 states, each having its own distinct industrial relations legislation and arbitration processes. As a result, there has long been a high degree of state intervention in the labor market. There is now only 1 main central union confederation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). "Awards" are the legal decisions made by independent industrial organizations, and they specify minimum standards of pay and working conditions that an employer must meet or otherwise face legal penalties. Working conditions are regulated by legislation and industrial awards.

While Australia carries no social restrictions on employment opportunities for women, the percentage of women in the formal workforce has traditionally been smaller than that of men. Female participation in the workforce has been increasing steadily since the early 1960s, when women comprised 25 percent of the work-force. In 1993, women's participation in the workforce was still increasing at 42 percent. The national Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act (1986) obliges employers to take steps specifically designed to remove discrimination towards women and promote equality in employment. Despite this act and award conditions for equal pay for equal work being well established, women's earnings on average remain slightly less their male counterparts. This inequity is partially due to the fact that women remain concentrated in industries where pay and working conditions remain relatively less favorable than other occupations and professions. More recent trends in equal opportunity employment address factors such as childcare, maternity and paternity leave, affirmative action, and sexual harassment, and sees them as significant industrial relations issues rather than exclusively women's issues.

Unemployment in Australia has been between 6 and 8 percent since the early 1980s and continues to remain in this range. Many Australian employers have readily employed immigrant workers, especially in times of labor shortages.


1770. Captain James Cook claims Australia for Great Britain.

1788. Australia is settled as a British penal colony.

1793. The first free settlers arrive.

1817. Australia's first bank, the Bank of New South Wales, is established.

1851. Gold is discovered in New South Wales and Victoria.

1883. Silver is discovered at Broken Hill, New South Wales.

1901. The Commonwealth of Australia, a federation of the colonies, is proclaimed. Australia adopts a federal system similar to the United States.

1914-18. Australia sends troops to fight for Great Britain in World War I.

1917. Transcontinental railroad opens.

1920. Qantas, the national airline, is founded.

1927. The national capital is moved from Melbourne to Canberra.

1940-45. Australian troops serve in World War II.

1942. Japanese planes bomb the Northern Territory capital of Darwin. Japanese midget submarines penetrate Sydney harbor.

1952. Uranium is discovered in the Northern Territory.

1960. Aboriginal people are granted Australian citizenship. The Reserve Bank of Australia is established.

1961. Iron ore deposits are discovered in Western Australia.

1966. Australia changes its currency from the British pound to the Australian dollar.

1992. The Mabo decision in the High Court allows Aboriginal people to claim title to their traditional lands.

1997. The Asian financial crisis weakens Australia's economy.

1999. A referendum to change Australia from a constitutional monarchy to an independent republic is defeated.

2000. The Summer Olympics in Sydney lead to a boom in tourism.


Australia's well rounded economy is likely to see continued growth in both the near and distant future. The country's importance as a leading supplier of minerals and agricultural products, its increasing presence in financial services and specialized technology industries, and its growing appeal as a tourism destination all hold great promise. The diversity of the Australian economy, its many trading partners, and its peaceful democratic political system all help stabilize economic conditions and encourage new investment. The Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s slowed Australia's exports, particularly of minerals, but is unlikely to have any long-term effects on the overall economy. Australia's economy is a careful balance of free market policies with close regulation of key economic sectors, combined with extensive social services programs. Australia's standard of living is assured of remaining one of the world's highest.

The Australian economy will have to increasingly address environmental and Aboriginal issues. Environmental damage caused by mining and agriculture, especially, have come under frequent media attack. Current issues include soil erosion caused by overgrazing, urbanization, and poor farming practices; increases in soil salinity largely due to farming practices; depletion of fresh water supplies, again largely due to farming and urbanization; and coastal damage, especially around the Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland coast, caused by shipping and extensive tourism. Mining impacts on the environment, such as the release of toxic substances, tend to be more localized. Mining and agricultural enterprises are becoming more responsive to environmental issues, but there is still room for improvement. Australia only recognized the potential land claims of its Aboriginal population in the 1990s, placing it far behind the political history of indigenous-settler relations in other countries such as New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. The Mabo and Wik High Court decisions of the 1990s recognized that Aboriginal title to land may still exist and that it can overlap with pastoral and mining leases. The implications of these decisions have not yet been worked out. They will probably have no major impact on the Australian economy as a whole but will give Aboriginal people a greater voice in managing natural resources on their traditional lands.


Australia has no territories or colonies.


Australian Tourist Commission. ATC Online: Tourism Industry Essentials. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Australia. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Gruen, Peter, and Sona Shrestha, editors. The Australian Economy in the 1990s. Canberra: Economic Group, Reserve Bank of Australia, 2000.

Kriesler, Peter, editor. The Australian Economy: The Essential Guide. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1995.

Kriesler, Peter, editor. The Australian Economy. 2nd Edition. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1997.

Lewis, John, et al. A Guide to the Australian Economy: Structure, Performance, Policy. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1994.

Nicholson, Margaret. The Little Aussie Fact Book. Melbourne: Penguin, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Australia. <>. Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Geological Survey. "The Mineral Industry of Australia." Minerals Information, International: Asia and the Pacific. <>. Accessed October 2001.

Michael Pretes

Rory Eames




Australian Dollar (A$). One dollar equals 100 cents. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 dollars. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars. An interesting feature of Australia's banknotes is that they are made out of thin plastic rather than paper.


Coal, wheat, gold, meat, wool, aluminum, iron ore, machinery, and transport equipment.


Machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts, crude oil, and petroleum products.


US$445.8 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$69 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$77 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.).

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AUSTRALIA , island continent, within the British Commonwealth. At least six Jewish convicts who arrived at Botany Bay, New South Wales, in 1788 were later among the first settlers, including John Harris who, when freed, became the first policeman in Australia. The first minyan and burial society date from 1817, and the 1828 census records about 100 Jews in New South Wales and 50 in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). In the 1830s Jews arrived in increasing numbers, mainly from England, and by 1841 Jews had also settled in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, bringing the total in the continent to 1,183 (0.57% of the whole population). The number of Jews in Australia reached 59,343 by 1961. (For updated information, see below.) Australian censuses trace the increase in the Jewish population, showing the rise and fall in each state and the percentage of Jews in the total population. (See Table: Australian Jewish Population and Table: Australasia Age Distributions.)

There were several waves of immigration – in the 1850s due to the prosperity following the discovery of gold; from 1891 to 1911 an influx of Eastern European Jews fleeing from pogroms; in the 1930s German refugees; and in the post-World War ii period the displaced *persons who survived the Holocaust in Europe.

Nineteenth Century

In 1828 Philip Joseph Cohen was authorized by England's chief rabbi to perform marriages. R. Aaron Levy (Levi), a member of the London bet din, paid a visit in 1830 to arrange a divorce. The first synagogue in *Sydney was constructed in 1844. Organized communities were established in Hobart (1845), Launceston (1846), *Melbourne (1841), and *Adelaide (1848). Several small communities which came into being during the gold rushes had all but disappeared in the 1960s: Forbes, Goulburn, Maitland, Tamworth, Bendigo, Geelong, Kalgoorlie, Toowoomba, and Launceston (see Map: Australian Jewry). Economic conditions made the country towns most attractive to the new Jewish settlers who came with little money, but fear of assimilation induced many to move to larger urban centers as soon as their material situation permitted. In the 1860s almost one-quarter of all Jews lived in country towns (14%) and rural areas (10%), whereas the 1961 census showed that 96.4% lived in the six large cities, 2.7% in small towns, and 0.9% in rural areas. Jacob *Saphir of Jerusalem, who visited Australia in 1862, gives an interesting account of Jewish conditions in his Even Sappir.

Australian Jewry in this early period was numerically small and scattered and consequently in danger of assimilation. Ministers and teachers were scarce, and religious observance was lax. The shortage of Jewish women (in 1881 there were only 78 women to every 100 men) led to a high rate of intermarriage. Many, however, still maintained their Jewish observances, often traveling hundreds of miles to take part in religious services or to have a child circumcised. Nor did they fail in charitable and social endeavor, and several Australian Jewish philanthropic institutions have a history of well over a century. Until free and compulsory state education was introduced in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Jewish communities maintained their own Hebrew day schools. The early Jewish settlers made a considerable impact on the colony's development, in the civic, and in some instances agricultural, spheres. Religious life was based on the English-Jewish tradition, which remained dominant, and the authority of the British chief rabbinate was respected. Civil rights and the right of Jews to vote and sit in Parliament were never subject to restrictions. The government acceded to Jewish requests for land for cemeteries, synagogues, schools, and ministers' residences, and limited subsidies were granted at different periods for Jewish religious establishments.

The synagogue was the focal point of communal life. Jews were generally highly respected; Judaism was recognized as a "denomination"; and the rabbinical office enjoyed a prestige seldom found in other lands. It is characteristic that throughout Australian Jewish history many Jews who were prominent in public life, at times occupying some of the highest positions in the land, were also active in the congregation. These include Sir Saul *Samuel, minister of the crown in New South Wales and president of the Sydney Great Synagogue; Sir Benjamin Benjamin (1836–1905), lord mayor of Melbourne and president

of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation; Sir Julian Emanuel Salamons (1835–1909), solicitor general in New South Wales; Sir Daniel *Levy, speaker of the House of Representatives and editor of The Australian Hebrew; Vabian Louis *Solomon, premier of South Australia and leader of the community there; George Judah Cohen, a leader in commerce and president of the Great Synagogue from 1878; and Sir Archie Michaelis (1889–1975), speaker of the Victorian parliament and president of the St. Kilda Synagogue. Other Jews who achieved prominence were Barnett Levy, founder of the first theater in Australia, and the composer Isaac *Nathan, described as the "father of Australian music." The historian Joseph *Jacobs and the philosopher Samuel *Alexander were also Australians. The close integration of the Jews in Australian life is exemplified in the careers of Sir Isaac Alfred *Isaacs, the first Australian-born governor-general, and General Sir John *Monash, who commanded the Australian forces in France in World War i.

[Israel Porush /

Yitzhak Rischin]

Role of Sephardi Jewry

Two of the convicts in the First Fleet which arrived in Australia in 1788 were apparently Sephardi Jews. A. Aaron estimates that at least 30 of the 384 Jewish convicts transported to Australia by 1830 were of Sephardi origin.

During the 19th century, representatives of several Sephardi mercantile families from Britain were prominent among free settlers. Solomon Mocatta operated a shipping agency; Benjamin Mendes da Costa and his sister Louisa bequeathed substantial property to a private school and public hospital in Adelaide; Alfred Mendoza served as choirmaster to the Melbourne Synagogue. Edward Cohen was elected to the Parliament in Victoria in 1861 and served for a time as a

Year New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Tasmania Northern Territory Total % of Total Population
* approximate figure

member of cabinet. In 1864, Charles Dyte won a seat in the Victorian Parliament; Maurice Salom entered the South Australian Parliament in 1882; and Jacob Levi Montefiore served in the Parliament of New South Wales (nsw).

The Montefiores were closely associated with progress in Australia throughout the century. Jacob Montefiore was one of the commissioners appointed to establish the first non-penal colony, South Australia, in 1836. His brother Joseph Barrow Montefiore became the president of the first formal Jewish congregation on the continent, founded in Sydney in 1832 and run according to Ashkenazi rites. He was a businessman with interests in the various colonies and a cofounder of several banks. Eliezer Levi Montefiore was instrumental in the formation of the Jewish community in Adelaide, promoted the establishment of lending libraries and art galleries, and served as the first director of the Art Gallery of nsw from 1892 until his death in 1894.

In 1854 and 1855 Sephardi Jews in Melbourne held Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur services according to their tradition in a classroom of the Melbourne synagogue. The synagogue management complained that a number of Ashkenazi Jews had joined the Sephardi minyan to avoid paying pew rent required in the main synagogue, so the next year the Sephardim held their services in a private home and applied to the Spanish and Portuguese congregation in London for assistance to form a separate Sephardi community. However, they returned to the synagogue in 1857 and maintained a Sephardi minyan until 1873. This folded when a quorum of Sephardi worshipers could no longer be found.

The Sephardi Jews in Australia in the 20th century (estimated at 6,000 in 1970) are not the descendants of the 19th-century Spanish and Portuguese Jews from Britain but largely immigrants who have arrived since World War ii. The main sources of immigration were Egypt and Jews of Iraqi origin who had resided in India and Britain's prewar colonies in the Far East. Smaller numbers also came from southern Europe, Turkey, and North Africa. From the 1960s there was a steady inflow from Israel, of all backgrounds, but particularly Iraqi Jews. The main centers of settlement were Sydney and Melbourne.

[Meyer Samra]

Twentieth Century

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries Australian Jewry was reinforced by further immigration, mainly from Europe. The *Perth and *Brisbane communities were firmly established, and additional synagogues were founded in Sydney and Melbourne. In 1878 the Great Synagogue of Sydney was opened. Notable leadership in the sphere of religious affairs was provided by such rabbis as Alexander B. *Davis of the Sydney Synagogue (1862–78) and of the Great Synagogue (1878–1903); Joseph Abrahams of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (1883–1919); Abraham Tobias *Boas of Adelaide (1870–1918); David Isaac Freedman of Perth (1897–1939); Francis Lyon Cohen of the Great Synagogue (1905–34); Jacob *Danglow (1905–60); and Israel *Brodie of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (1922–37), who was later chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the British Commonwealth.

The periods immediately before World War i and between the two world wars brought a number of Eastern European Jews to Australia and also some from Palestine who settled in Perth. Mass immigration followed the rise of Hitler. Although the Australian authorities were at first reluctant to encourage non-British immigration, at the *Evian Conference in 1938 the Australian government allotted 15,000 entry permits to victims of oppression. The outbreak of war in 1939, however, prevented the complete realization of this scheme, but some 7,000 refugees, almost all Jews, settled in Australia between 1935 and 1940. In the 1920s Australian Jewry was in danger of losing its identity and becoming fully assimilated into Australian life when judged by the high incidence of intermarriage, poor synagogue attendance, lack of knowledge of the Hebrew language and Jewish studies, and inadequate educational facilities. Jewish cultural life and Zionism were practically nonexistent. (The Zionist Federation of Australia was founded in 1927 with Israel Brodie as its first president and Sir John Monash as its honorary president.) At the most there were a few social and philanthropic institutions and even these activities were uncoordinated. There was no united body to represent or speak in the name of the whole community. Community affairs were largely in the hands of the Australian-born segment whose activities centered around the synagogues and who had little or no experience of the organization or the vast range of cultural activities known to the European kehillot. They deemphasized elements of Jewish distinctiveness and group particularism, believing that in this way it would be easier to integrate into Australian society. Feeling that Jews should maintain a few basic religious differences but not be socially segregated or institutionally isolated, they formed State Advisory Boards with only the synagogues represented.

The newer immigrants from Europe brought with them deep religious convictions, Hebrew and Jewish scholarship, Yiddish culture, and Zionist sentiments. During the late 1930s a struggle for community control was launched by these new elements. Their impact on community life brought into being state Boards of Deputies on which not only the synagogues but all major organizations (secular, Zionist, cultural) were represented. The Board of Deputies in each state could speak in the name of the whole community. The state Boards of Deputies amalgamated in 1944 to form the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to represent the community on all federal matters and in world Jewish organizations. These new bodies embarked on programs in the spheres of education, Zionism, the combating of antisemitism, and Jewish immigration into Australia with remarkable results, stemming the tide of assimilation and building up a virile Jewish community life. As a result the large majority of Australian Jews adhered moderately to Jewish rituals, was strongly opposed to intermarriage, supported the Jewish day schools, and had strong sympathies with Israel.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry in 1946 dissociated the community from the anti-Zionist views of Sir Isaac Isaacs and wholeheartedly supported the demands for a Jewish state and free immigration to Palestine. From 1945 it strongly influenced the Australian immigration policy, obtaining many concessions from Arthur A. Calwell, minister for immigration, to admit Jews on humanitarian grounds. Later it kept a vigilant eye on the entry of Germans to Australia, ensuring there would be adequate screening to prevent the entry of former Nazis. From the 1950s it succeeded in its efforts to secure Australian government support for the rights of Jews in the U.S.S.R.

[Israel Porush /

Yitzhak Rischin]


Australia's Jewish community more than doubled in size between 1933 and 1954 (increasing from 23,553 to 48,436 persons), as a result of both natural increase and of an immigration policy favorable toward Jewish refugees from Europe. The 1966 census indicated that 63,271 persons had registered as Jews, whereas informed estimates calculated the actual number of Jews in 1968 at 70,000 (constituting 0.5% of the total population). In the last third of the 20th century, Australia was one of the few Diaspora societies whose Jewish population continued to rise steadily, thanks to continuing immigration, low rates of intermarriage and assimilation, and a relatively high birth-rate. Our knowledge of Australia's Jewish population derives primarily from the Australian census, which is held every five years and always includes an optional religious question. In 1971, the declared Jewish population of Australia, according to the census of that year, was 62,208. This figure rose to 69,088 in 1986, to 74,386 in 1991, 79,805 in 1996, and 83,993 in 2001, an increase of 35 percent in 30 years. This steady increase has shown little sign of leveling off, with Australian Jewry experiencing an increase of 5.2 percent in the five years between 1996 and 2001 alone. These figures are, moreover, widely regarded as underestimates, since, as noted, the census question of religious identity is optional. In 2001, 27.92 percent of the Australian population stated they were of "no religion" or declined to answer the religious question ("religion not stated"). Assuming that the Jewish population's non-response rate is similar to that of the general population, the actual number of Jews in Australia was about 116,527 in 2001. Most demographers regard the actual figure as in the range of 110–115,000. There is, however, some evidence that even this figure is too low. The Melbourne Jewish Welfare Society maintains a master list of all Jews in the state of Victoria (which includes Melbourne) that is constantly updated. In the early 1990s it contained about 48,000 names, over 40 percent in excess of the census figure of about 34,000.

Most Australian Jews continue to live in the two principal centers of Jewish life, Melbourne (in Victoria) and Sydney (in New South Wales). Both contain a wide range of Jewish institutions – often seen by visitors to Australia as extraordinary in their scope for so remote a community – especially an extensive Jewish day school system. In 1971 the census Jewish population of Victoria was 30,117. This grew to 32,358 in 1986, 35,963 in 1996, and 38,374 in 2001. The rise in the declared Jewish population of New South Wales was as follows: 1971: 25,971; 1986: 28,197; 1996: 32,652; 2001: 34,345. Jewish communities exist in all other states, with the Jewish population of Perth (Western Australia) and the Gold Coast, a resort area in Queensland, having increased significantly during the past 30 years. On the other hand, the smaller Jewish communities have not experienced much growth. The Jewish populations of the smaller states in 1971, 1986, and 2001 were as follows: Queensland – 1971: 1,491; 1986: 2,631; 2001: 4,271; South Australia (Adelaide) – 1971: 1,137; 1986: 1,144; 2001: 1,072; Western Australia – 1971: 3,102; 1986: 3,919; 2001: 5,072; Tasmania – 1971: 98; 1986: 160; 2001: 180; Northern Territory – 1971: 46; 1986: 98; 2001: 149; Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) –1971: 251; 1986: 501; 2001: 529. Within the largest centers of Jewish life there are a number of heavily Jewish areas, especially Caulfield-East St. Kilda in Melbourne, Bondi-Randwick and the North Shore in Sydney, and Dianella in Perth. By and large, these have been notably stable during the past 40 years, with few new Jewish areas of heavy settlement established outside them.

During the past 35 years, Jewish immigration to Australia has come from a number of main sources, especially the Former Soviet Union and South Africa, as well as from a steady stream of migrants for normal professional reasons from the English-speaking world, particularly Britain, and smaller numbers from Israel and elsewhere. Probably the largest single source of recent Jewish immigration to Australia has been the Former Soviet Union. An estimated 25,000 Soviet Jews have come to Australia since 1970 (many of whom are probably not included in the census figures). In 1971, of Australia's total of 62,208 declared Jews, 41.7 percent (25,964) were born in Australia, 9,302 (15.0%) in Poland, 5,663 (9.1%) in Britain, 3,506 (5.6%) in Hungary, 3,303 (5.3%) in Germany, and 3,081 (5.0%) in Israel and "other Asia." In 1986, 31,619 (45.8%) of the declared Jewish population of 69,088 were born in Australia, with the largest foreign-born sources being Poland– 6,663 (9.6%); Britain – 5,135 (7.49%); the U.S.S.R. – 3,611 (5.2%); and South Africa – 3,420 (4.0%). In 2001, 46.4 percent (38,940) of Australia's 83,993 Jews were born in Australia, followed by South Africa – 10,473 (12.5%); the former U.S.S.R. – 6,751 (8.0%); Britain – 4,329 (5.2%); Israel – 3,886 (4.6%); and Poland – 3,838 (4.6%).

Intermarriage rates among Australian Jews were, by other Diaspora standards, extremely low, and declined significantly between the 1933 Census and the 1961 Census, consistent with the arrival in Australia of the Holocaust survivors, and a greater sense of Jewish identity. In 1961, 6.3 percent of Jewish wives were married to a non-Jewish husband, and 12.3 percent of Jewish husbands to a non-Jewish wife. In 1981 (Victoria and New South Wales only) these figures were respectively 11.2 percent and 14.0 percent; in 2001, these figures were 11.2 percent and 15.6 percent. The 2001 statistics were, specifically, for women and men married to adherents of another religion. Several thousand other Jews were married to spouses giving "no religion" or "religion not stated" in response to the census question, many of whom are believed to be Jewish. Additionally, many Jews married to non-Jews are believed to be divorced (or widowed) and remarried, often late in life. Inter-marriage rates were consistently lower in Victoria than in New South Wales, which were in turn lower than in the smaller states. It seems reasonable to conclude that Australia, especially in its main centers of Jewish life, has managed to avoid the disturbing rates of intermarriage found elsewhere in the Diaspora, especially the United States. While one can debate the reasons for this, observers pointed to the high levels of attendance at Jewish day schools and to the fact that in Australia, unlike the United States and other Diaspora societies, university students generally live at home, attending a local college, and thus often continue to draw their associational networks from among their school friends.

Australian Jews are, for the most part, situated in the upper middle classes, with relatively high income levels and socio-economic attainments. Plainly, not all Australian Jews share in high income levels, although the community has no obvious and well-defined areas of poverty, except among recent immigrants and the elderly. As elsewhere in the Diaspora, Australian Jewry contains a disproportionate number of elderly persons, with 18.97 percent of those declaring themselves to be Jewish by religion in 2001 aged 70 or more, compared with 11.51 percent of the whole Australian population. (On the other hand, it should be noted that the Australian Jewish percentage of children was not much lower than the whole Australian population, with 17.22 percent of Jews aged 0–14 in 2001, compared with 21.7 percent of the whole Australian population.)

Community Life

The great influx of Jewish immigrants rejuvenated community life in the 1950s. This trend sharply contrasted with the diminishing influence of Jewish communal life and the typical rising intermarriage rates of the previous decade. Synagogues, centers, and schools sprang up in the suburbs of the capital cities. By the end of the 1960s a number of day schools and over 45 synagogues existed throughout Australia. Brisbane, Adelaide, and other communities with small Jewish populations carried on religious and Jewish cultural activities. In the new federal capital, Canberra, the Jewish community was granted a site for a synagogue. An estimated 55–65% of the adult members of the communities were members of synagogues, 80% of them Orthodox and 20% Liberal. The first Sephardi synagogue was established in Sydney in 1962. The congregations' rabbinical courts were located in Melbourne and Sydney. The Orthodox congregations in Sydney were organized in the United Synagogues of New South Wales. All six Liberal congregations, which were first introduced in 1935, were affiliated with the Australian Union for Progressive Judaism.

Between 1970 and 2004 the Australian Jewish community grew and developed on the foundations of community life which had been, for the most part, laid between about 1935 and 1955, when the community was transformed by the arrival of refugees and migrants from Europe and the institutional bases of the community were altered to a considerable extent. The Australian Jewish community has remained centered on much the same framework of communal governing bodies, synagogues, day schools, and even areas of neighborhood residency as 40 years earlier. This stability probably accounts for its relative success. Australian Jewry remains notably pro-Zionist, while Australia's mainstream political culture has been generally favorable to Israel and the West. The growth and development of the community which has occurred during the past 45 years has generally come by additions and extensions of the institutional framework which developed in the c. 1935–55 period rather than through any sharp break with the past. For instance, in recent decades, Sydney Jewry has become more like Melbourne Jewry in its patronage of Jewish day schools and its religious Orthodoxy, while most new Jewish immigrants to Australia have chosen to live in or near existing Jewish neighborhoods where this has been financially possible. There are no signs that this is likely to change in the near future.


One of the most notable features of the modern Australian Jewish community is the extent of its Jewish day school system, which is arguably without parallel in the Diaspora with the possible exception of South Africa. In 2004, 15 full-time Jewish day schools existed throughout Australia, attended by an estimated 60 percent of Australian Jewish children. Most of these were founded between 1949 and about 1970, although some schools have been established since. In Melbourne and Sydney, Jewish day schools were established by different religious and secular factions within the overall community, whose outlook was not, in their view, well-served by any existing Jewish school. Eight Jewish day schools exist in Melbourne: Mount Scopus (Orthodox Zionist), Bialik (secular Zionist), Sholem Aleichem (secular Yiddish), Leibler Yavneh (Mizrachi), Adass (non-Lubavitcher Strictly Orthodox), Yeshivah College (boys' Lubavitcher), Beth Rivkah (girls' Lubavitcher), and King David (Liberal Judaism). All take students from ages 5–18 except for Sholem Aleichem, which is only a primary school. For many decades, Mount Scopus, the oldest of these day schools, was regarded as the largest day school in the Diaspora, although in recent years its numbers have declined slightly, from about 2,200 students in the 1980s to about 1,700 in 2004. Overall, about 6,000 students attend these Melbourne day schools.

In Sydney, there are six Jewish day schools: Moriah (Orthodox), Yeshivah College (Lubavitcher), Yeshivah Girls' High School (Lubavitcher), Masada College (Orthodox, on Sydney's North Shore), Mount Sinai College (Orthodox, in Sydney's south), and Emanuel College (Liberal Judaism). Throughout most of the period since the first of these schools, Moriah College, was founded in 1951, a lower percentage of Jewish students have attended a Jewish day school in Sydney than in Melbourne, although the percentage gap has narrowed since the 1980s. There are also three Jewish day schools in other Australian cities: Carmel College (Orthodox) in Perth, Western Australia; Sinai College in Brisbane; and Massada College, a primary school, in Adelaide.

Jewish children who do not receive a full-time Jewish education often attend a Jewish Sunday school or receive tuition from United Jewish Education Boards which exist in Melbourne and Sydney. There have been many concerns that, in very recent years, the high cost of education at Jewish day schools – in 2004 up to a $20,000 (u.s. $13,000) per year for senior students – is driving students into the state sector, although the number of students at Australia's Jewish day schools continues to grow.

While there has been a growth in Jewish-interest courses at the university level in Australia in recent years, these have certainly not kept pace with the growth of "Jewish studies" at college level in America and elsewhere. Monash University in Melbourne and Sydney and New South Wales universities do offer sequences in Jewish studies. It should be pointed out that courses in Australia last for three years (not four) and are more career-oriented than in American institutions of higher education. An Australian Association for Jewish Studies was founded in 1987. It holds well-attended annual conferences and publishes the Australian Journal of Jewish Studies. Hillel organizations exist on some campuses. There are also a number of kolelim conducted by Orthodox synagogues. It might also be noted that Australian Jewish millionaires have been notably more reluctant to fund university chairs and research compared with their equivalents elsewhere.


The broadening and extension of the religious bases of Australian Jewish life, which also began in the 1935–55 period, has continued into the 21st century. Most Australian Jews who are affiliated to a synagogue are Orthodox, with a minority as members of Progressive (Liberal) (affiliated to the World Union for Progressive Judaism) congregations. Recently, a small Conservative (Masorti) movement, unknown before the 1990s, has emerged in Melbourne. By 2004, there were 50 synagogues in Melbourne, 34 of which were Orthodox, of which eight were Strictly Orthodox – seven Lubavitcher and one Adass, non-Lubavitcher Strictly Orthodox – one Mizrachi, and two Sephardi; the others were mainstream Orthodox representing both British United Synagogue and European origins. Four Melbourne synagogues were Progressive, one Masorti, and one Independent. Another Orthodox synagogue also existed in Ballarat, Victoria, about 100 miles (160 km.) north of Melbourne. In Sydney, there were 19 synagogues, with the same denominational breakdown: three were Progressive, two Sephardi, the rest Ashkenazi Orthodox, of which four or five were Strictly Orthodox. Two synagogues existed in New South Wales outside of Sydney, in Byron Bay and Newcastle. Among the smaller states, there were five synagogues (four Orthodox, one Progressive) in Perth, Western Australia; five in Queensland (two Orthodox, three Progressive); three in Tasmania (all Orthodox); as well as both Orthodox and Progressive services at the Jewish community center in Canberra. There were thus approximately 87 synagogues in Australia in 2004. Some, especially the Great Synagogue in central Sydney and the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation near central Melbourne, are historically important or architecturally distinguished. Both the Orthodox and Progressive movements held national rabbinical conferences. Orthodox and Progressive battei din existed in Melbourne and Sydney, with Melbourne's Orthodox Beth Din involved in controversy over its structure from the 1990s on. A number of postwar Australian rabbis have become nationally known, among them Yitzhak Groner, Chaim *Gutnick, Israel *Porush, Raymond *Apple, and Ronald Lubofsky among the Orthodox rabbinate and Herman Sanger and John S. *Levi among Progressive rabbis. Several Progressive synagogues appointed women rabbis, the first (Karen Soria) in Melbourne in 1981. Relations between the Orthodox and Progressive movements have, with some striking exceptions, been notably bad, with animosity between the two surfacing at regular intervals. As in Britain, it is probably fair to say that congregational growth during the past generation has come at the extremes, among Strictly Orthodox and Progressive synagogues, while moderate Orthodoxy has, in the main, not grown as rapidly.

Community Organization and Services

The Australian Jewish community has evolved a recognized structure of bodies who are entitled to speak on its behalf on public issues, make representations to the government, liaise with the media, and so on. Each state has a local Board of Deputies (which, in Victoria, has since 1988 been known as the Jewish Community Council of Victoria) headed by a president and other office holders, and composed of delegates from affiliated Jewish bodies, including most synagogues. In New South Wales (but not elsewhere) there is a measure of direct election of delegates from the Jewish community. Nationally, the Jewish community's central body is the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ecaj), whose president usually serves for a two-year term, the post normally rotating between a leading figure in Melbourne and Sydney. Among the presidents of the ecaj, Maurice *Ashkanasy, Syd *Einfeld, Jeremy Jones, and, in particular, Isi *Leibler, have been recognized as influential spokesmen for the Australian Jewish community. Before making aliyah in 1998, Isi Leibler had unquestionably been the dominant Jewish lay leader in Australia during the previous quarter-century. Australia also contains a strong Zionist movement, based in organizations in each state and a national Zionist Federation of Australia (zfa). *wizo, with 3,000 members, is a particularly strong component, which also includes *Po'alei Zion, *Mizrachi, *Revisionists, and youth groups. The zfa has often lobbied politicians as equal partners with the ecaj, often to good effect, especially under the presidency of Mark *Leibler in the 1980s and 1990s.

Since 1976, the Australian Zionist movement has been associated with a well-known semi-independent bimonthly magazine, known until the late 1990s as Australia-Israel Review and, since then, as The Review. Apart from publishing pro-Israel material, it examines antisemitic and anti-Zionist extremists in Australia. In 1996 The Review received considerable publicity in the mainstream media for publishing a list of financial donors to One Nation, a right-wing anti-Asian, anti-Aboriginal party, an act which was widely criticized as an invasion of privacy. Since 1983 its editor has been Dr. Colin Rubenstein (1942– ), formerly an academic at Monash University.

Since 1968, when the Australian Jewish Herald ceased publication, the Australian Jewish community has had one weekly community newspaper, the Australian Jewish News, published in both Melbourne and Sydney editions with the same national news but different local coverage. A high-quality, wide-ranging paper, it was edited in the 1980s and 1990s by Sam Lipski (1936– ), a respected communal figure and formerly the Washington correspondent of The Australian. Its Sydney edition was edited by Susan Bures. In the early 21st century the newspaper was edited by Dan Goldberg. Until the early 1990s, it also contained a weekly Yiddish supplement, Die Yiddishe Naes, which ceased publication due to the decline in the number of Yiddish speakers. A number of other Australian Jewish publications have existed, such as The Bridge, a quarterly which existed in the 1960s; Generation, another quarterly journal of commentary and fiction, edited in the 1980s and 1990s by Melbourne historian and novelist Mark Baker; and the Melbourne Chronicle, a Yiddish-English quarterly edited by Melbourne writer Serge *Liberman. Unfortunately none of these publications became a permanent fixture. The Australian Jewish Historical Society, founded in 1938, has, however, published a continuing Journal since the 1950s, which, since 1988, has appeared twice annually, with its Melbourne and Sydney committees each producing an annual issue. The Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal has also included memoirs and commentary.

Welfare provisions in the Australian Jewish community are, for the most part, in the hands of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society (known since 1999 as Jewish Care). The Welfare Society was founded in Melbourne and Sydney in the 1930s as an immigrants' aid society, specifically to assist German Jewish refugees. It remained mainly a refugees' aid society until the 1970s and helped to bring thousands of former Soviet Jews to Australia then and after the collapse of the USSR. Since the 1970s, it has chiefly functioned as a welfare society in the more normal sense, assisting the disabled, the elderly, and other disadvantaged groups.

Many other Jewish groups exist, especially in Melbourne and Sydney, including women's groups such as the National Council of Jewish Women and wizo, youth groups, and Hillel on campuses. From about 1983 until 1998 the Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs existed, headed by Isi Leibler. It conducted significant research, brought well-known overseas speakers to Australia, and published a journal, Without Prejudice, designed to combat antisemitism. Australia is also home to a significant *B'nai B'rith movement, which is particularly well known for combating antisemitism. Virtually all are pro-Zionist, with support for Israel unusually strong. A number of left-wing groups, critical of right-wing Israeli policies, and with a progressive agenda on such issues as Aboriginal rights, exist, most notably the Jewish Democratic Society.

From the early 1940s until about 1970 a controversial but, in its early phase, very influential body existed, the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Antisemitism. From the late 1940s it was accused by conservative sources of being a Communist front group, and lost much of its influence. Three Jewish museums were founded in Australia in the 1980s, the A.M. Rosenblum Jewish Museum in Sydney, founded in 1982, which includes exhibits on Australian Jewish history and the Holocaust; the Jewish Museum of Australia in Melbourne, also founded in 1982; and the Holocaust Museum and Research Centre, also in Melbourne, founded in 1984, whose guides are mainly Holocaust survivors.

Jews in Public Life

Fewer Jews have been elected to public office in contemporary Australia than in many other Diaspora societies. Nine Jews have served as members of the federal Parliament since World War ii, most notably Peter *Baume, Moss *Cass, Barry *Cohen, Sam *Cohen, and Michael *Danby. On the other hand, one of Australia's most distinguished Jews, Sir Zelman *Cowen, served as governor-general of Australia in 1977–82.

Jews are prominent in the spheres of business and professional life, with an estimated 15–20 percent of Australia's annual "rich lists" being Jewish, mainly Melbourne Holocaust survivors and their relatives. Jews also comprise a disproportionate percentage of Australia's lawyers and doctors, especially in Melbourne and Sydney. Jews are not as numerous in academic and cultural life as in other societies, with only a handful of Jewish "public intellectuals," such as Frank Knopfelmacher (1923–95), a right-wing political commentator; Robert Manne (1947– ), an academic political commentator; Dennis Altman (1947– ), a well-known social critic and advocate of gay rights; and Peter Singer, internationally known for his views on animal rights. In general, however, Jews are much less publicly visible as opinion leaders and trendsetters than elsewhere. It is perhaps indicative of this that unquestionably the Australian work about Jews which has had the greatest international impact was written by a non-Jew: Schindler's Ark, by gentile Australian writer Thomas Keneally, which formed the basis for Steven *Spielberg's famous film, Schindler's List.

Australia-Israel Relations

In general, relations between Australia and Israel have been unusually good, a continuation of a trend which began with the foundation of the State of Israel. Most Australian governments have consistently sided with the small minority of states of the u.n. and other bodies which have supported Israel when anti-Israel measures were proposed. Australia sent troops to the *Sinaimfo in the 1980s to enforce the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Trade between the two states, despite their geographic remoteness, is not inconsiderable and an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce has existed since the 1950s. The absence of a direct air link between Israel and Australia as of 2004 (travelers must change at Bangkok or some other midway point) remains a barrier to increasing tourism.

There has only been one notable exception to this pattern of bilateral friendliness, the Whitlam government of 1972–75, which went out of its way to stress its pro-Third World credentials and alienated many Jews. In contrast, Malcolm Fraser (Australia's prime minister in 1975–83), Bob Hawke (prime minister in 1983–91), and John Howard (prime minister from 1996) have been notable supporters of Israel, with Hawke's warm backing for Israel being legendary. It is, however, probably accurate to state that most Australian governments, especially its Australian Labor Party administrations, are much happier with a Labor government in power in Israel than with a Likud government and also that, as everywhere, the left and the organs of opinion it controls or influences have turned sharply against Israel in recent decades.

Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism, War Crimes

Australia has also been relatively free of extreme right-wing antisemitic groups or activists. On the far right, the best-known continuing antisemitic group is the League of Rights, loosely related to the Social Credit movement. Individual antisemitic activists and local "Holocaust deniers" exist, and some antisemitic attacks occur periodically. On the far left, Australia has long had a series of extremist anti-Zionist activists. From 1978 until the late 1980s very extreme anti-Zionist groups had air time on Radio 3cr, a Melbourne "community radio" station dominated by the extreme left, especially the far left of the Victorian branch of the alp. In 1978–80 the local Jewish community appealed to the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal to remove these programs from the air, with mixed success at the time, although they largely disappeared by about 1990. More recently, several left-wing members of the Australian Parliament, particularly from Sydney seats with high concentrations of Muslims, have caused concern. The numberof Muslims in Australia rose from 100,000 to 300,000 during the period from 1970 through 2001. Most were Turks or east Asians rather than Arabs. Nevertheless, antisemitic extremism from Muslim fundamentalists, especially from Sheik Taj El-Hilaly of Sydney, has caused considerable concern to Australian Jews.

From the mid-1980s, efforts were made to bring to justice former Nazi war criminals who, it was widely believed, migrated to Australia after World War ii. Most were Balts or Ukrainians. The effort was chiefly sparked by a series of radio broadcasts in 1985 by Mark Aarons, an investigative journalist. After a full investigation by a Government Commission, which found that up to 50 serious Nazi war criminals had migrated to Australia, in 1989 Australia's Parliament, after bitter discussion, passed a War Crimes Act allowing alleged Nazi war criminals to be tried in Australia. For a variety of reasons, especially the lack of interest by Paul Keating, Australia's prime minister, 1991–96, in pursuing these efforts, no prosecutions have ever been commenced, and it is now most unlikely that any ever will.


In many respects, Australia is a model Diaspora community; if any Diaspora Jewish community has a viable future, it is Australia's. This has probably been due, in part, to the concentration of resources on what some sociologists describe as the "bottom half" of the community, especially the Jewish day school system, rather than on the "top half," on the college-educated or cultural sector, or in grandiose monuments. If anything the past 45 years have seen a considerable strengthening of the Australian Jewish community, which has managed to escape many of the problems found elsewhere in the Diaspora.

[Israel Porush and

Yitzhak Rischin /

William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]


H.L. Rubinstein and W.D. Rubinstein, The Jews in Australia: A Thematic History (2 vols., 1991); S. Rutland, Edge of the Diaspora (20012); H.L. Rubinstein, Chosen: The Jews in Australia (1987); M. Turnbull (ed.), Safer Haven: Records of the Jewish Experience in Australia (1999); S. Liberman and L. Gallon (eds.), Bibliography of Australian Jewry (1991); S. Rutland, Pages of History: A Century of Australian Jewish Press (1995); W.D. Rubinstein (ed.), Jews in the Sixth Continent (1986); P.Y. Medding (ed.), From Assimilation to Group Survival (1968); C.A. Price, Jewish Settlers in Australia (1968); B. Hyams, History of the Australian Zionist Movement (1998); H.L. Rubinstein, The Jews in Victoria, 1935–1985 (1986); D. Mossenson, Hebrew, Israelite, Jew: A History of the Jews in Western Australia (1990); H. Munz, The Jews in South Australia, 1836–1936 (1936); M. Gordon, The Jews of Van Diemen's Land (1965); A. Aaron, The Sephardi Jews of Australia and New Zealand (1979); J.S. Levi and G.F.J. Bergman, Australian Genesis: Jewish Convicts and Settlers, 1788–1860 (20022;); I. Getzler, Neither Toleration Nor Favour: The Australian Chapter of Emancipation (1970); P.R. Bartrop, Australia and the Holocaust, 1933–1945 (1995); J. Foster (ed.), Community of Fate: Memoirs of German Jews in Melbourne (1986); J.E. Berman, Holocaust Remembrance in Australian Jewish Communities, 1945–2000 (2001); A. Andgel, Fifty Years of Caring: A History of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society, 1936–1986 (1988); R. Benjamin, A Serious Influx of Jews: A History of Jewish Welfare in Victoria (1998); R. Gouttman, Bondi in the Sinai: Australia, the mfo, and the Politics of Participation (1996); G.F. Levey and P. Mendes (eds.), Jews and Australian Politics (2004); Y. Aron and J. Arndt, The Enduring Remnant: The First 150 Years of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (1992); I. Porush, House of Israel: A Study of Sydney Jewry from its Foundations … and a History of the Great Synagogue of Sydney (1997); J.S. Levy, Rabbi Jacob Danglow: "The Uncrowned Monarch of Australian Jews" (1995); D.J. Elazar, Jewish Communities in Frontier Societies: Argentina, Australia, South Africa (1983). The Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal appears twice annually and should be consulted by anyone interested in the history of Australian Jewry.

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The Commonwealth of Australia, a country in the South Pacific Ocean, occupies the smallest continent and covers an area of 2,966,200 mi2 (7,682,000 km2). Along the northeast coast of Australia, for a distance of 1,200 mi (2,000 km) in length and offshore as much as 100 mi (160 km) into the Pacific Ocean, lies the Great Barrier Reef , the greatest assemblage of coral reefs in the world. The island of Tasmania, which is a part of Australia, lies off the southeast coast of the mainland. Australia consists mainly of plains and plateaus, most of which average 2,000 ft (600 m) above sea level. There are several low mountain ranges in the country.

Only about 16 million people live in Australia, of whom about 150,000 are native people, the Aborigines.

More than a third of Australia receives under 10 in (25 cm) of annual rainfall, while less than a third receives over 20 in (51 cm). Many areas experience prolonged drought and frequent heat waves. The Outback is one such area. It is comprised of dry, barren land and vast interior deserts. Soils generally are poor, with fertile land found only in the lowlands and valleys near the east and southeast coast. The largest river is the Murray River in southeastern Australia. In the inland area, few rivers have much water due to the lack of rainfall. In areas with coastal highlands, rivers flow only a short distance to the sea. Lakes frequently dry up and become beds of salt. In contrast, there are lush rain forests in the north and snowy mountains in the southeastern Blue Range.

The most common tree is the eucalyptus, of which there are at least 600 different kinds. Since Australia is the driest of the inhabited continents, there are few forests. The acacia, or wattle, is Australia's national flower. Many of the mammals of Australia (kangaroos, wallabies, and koala bears) are marsupials, unlike those found anywhere else in the world. The young of marsupials are born premature and require continued development outside the womb in pouches on the parent's body. The egg-laying mammal, or monotreme, is also only found in Australia. There are two species of monotreme: the duck-billed platypus and the echidna, or spiny anteater. The most famous Australian bird is the kookaburra. There are no hoofed animals in Australia. Two flightless birds, the emu and the cassowary, also are found only in Australia. Snakes are common and include many poisonous species. Two kinds of crocodiles are found in the northern part of Australia. All of these unique fauna and flora species have evolved due to the long separation of the Australian continent from southeast Asia and a general lack of predators.

The goal of environmental protection and management in Australia is integration of the principles of ecologically sustainable development into policies and programs encompassing all aspects of environmental issues.

Australia's land resources form the basis of its unique natural heritage and its agricultural industry. However, problems of land degradation are widespread. Land degradation due to dryland salinity is a national problem that threatens both biodiversity and agricultural productivity. Dryland salinity affects about 5,434,000 acres (2.2 million ha) of once-productive agricultural land and costs an estimated $243 million per year in lost agricultural production. Dryland salinity originates from salt deposited in the landscape over millions of years due to marine sedimentation . Land clearing over the last two hundred years and the replacement of deep-rooted perennial native vegetation with shallow-rooted annuals have caused water tables to rise, bringing saline water close to the surface into the root zones of plants. Excessive irrigation has also led to increases in levels of water tables. Strategies to address this problem include research for the prediction, prevention, and reversal of dryland salinity. An example of a research effort to ameliorate the effects of salinity is a project that addresses the identification of salt-tolerant plant species and development of appropriate establishment and growth management techniques to ensure their survival. Australia's naturally fire-adapted ecosystem has frequent brushfires that now threaten many new developments and even major cities. Other land degradation problems being addressed include the rehabilitation of mining sites and remediation of sites contaminated by railway operations.

Australia contains about 10% of the world's biological diversity. The Commonwealth is addressing the issues of loss of biodiversity through a program referred to as the National Vegetation Initiative (NVI). About 988 million acres (40 million ha) of land is protected within a terrestrial reserves system, but 1,235 million acres (500 million ha), or more than two-thirds of Australia's land area, are managed by private landholders. Biodiversity outside the reserves has been affected by vegetation clearance and modification. The NVI will attempt to reverse the long-term decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation by developing programs and incentives to conserve, enhance, and manage remnant native vegetation; to increase revegetation activities; and to encourage the integration of native vegetation into conventional farming systems.

The state of Australia's rivers and other aquatic systems has been declining due to a range of factors. Unsustainable water extractions for agricultural production have resulted in reduced flows in rivers that result in blue-green algae outbreaks, declines in native fish populations, increases in salinity, loss of wetlands , and loss of the beneficial aspects of small floods. Research is being conducted to define environmental flow requirements so that water allocations or entitlements will include environmental needs as a legitimate use. Other factors affecting the decline in aquatic systems include poor land and vegetation management, agricultural and urban pollution , salinity, destruction of native habitat , and spread of exotic pests such as the European carp and the water weed Salvinia.

In a 1997 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, the Australian people identified air pollution as their greatest environmental concern. The government's primary air quality objective is to provide all Australians with equivalent protection from air pollution, which will be achieved by the development of national air quality strategies and standards that minimize the adverse environmental impacts of air pollution. Since over 60% of the Australian population lives in cities, the Government's first priority is to develop measures to reduce the impact of air pollution on urban areas.

The government of Australia considers climate changes as another of its most important environmental issues. A National Greenhouse Response Strategy was adopted in 1992 to respond to the need for greenhouse gas emission mitigation. The major thrust of the program is to develop cooperative agreements with industry to abate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, large scale vegetation plantings for improvement of land resources will reduce carbon dioxide , a major greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere . Methane emission from intensive agriculture will be reduced through livestock waste treatment. The use of alternative transport fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas , ethanol , and other alcohol blends will be encouraged through the use of a fuel excise exemption.

Although ozone layer depletion in the atmosphere occurs over most of the Earth, the most dramatic changes are seen when an ozone "hole" forms over Antarctica each spring. The ozone layer protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but it can be depleted by the use of some widely used ozone-depleting chemicals . The ozone hole sometimes drifts over Australia and exposes residents to dangerous levels of UV radiation. Australia, because of its proximity to Antarctica, has taken a leading role in ozone protection and has been influential in the development and implementation of cost-effective mechanisms to ensure the phase-out of use of ozone-depleting substances by all countries. The government also monitors solar ultraviolet radiation levels and assesses the consequences for public health.

Australia's marine and coastal environments are rich in natural and cultural resources, are adjacent to most of the
nation's population (about 86%), and are a focus of much of Australia's economic, social, tourism, and recreational activity. Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is one of the largest in the world, comprising 4.25 million mi2 (11 million km2) of marine waters. Uncoordinated and ad hoc development has been identified as a major contributing factor to the decline of coastal water quality and marine and estuarine habitats. Programs that include cooperation of the Commonwealth government with state and local governments, industry groups, nongovernmental organizations, and the community have been developed to protect and rehabilitate these environments. These programs include addressing threats to coastal water quality and marine biodiversity from land-based and marine pollution ; developing integrated management plans for the conservation and sustainable use of coastal resources, including fisheries resources; supporting capital works and improvement of technologies to reduce the impacts of sewage and stormwater; controlling the introduction and spread of exotic marine pests in Australian waters; protecting and restoring fish habitats; and supporting comprehensive and consistent coastal monitoring.

The Great Barrier Reef is facing growing pressures from the reef-based tourism industry, commercial and recreational fishing (which is worth about $1.3 billion per year), expanding coastal urban areas, and downstream effects of land use from agricultural activities. Several programs are being developed and implemented to ensure that activities can continue on an ecologically sustainable basis. For example, tourist and recreational impacts are being reduced while providing diverse tourist activities. Fishing catches and efforts are being monitored, major or critical habitats are being identified, and fishing by-catch is being reduced through the development of new methods. Sediment , nutrient , and other land-based runoff that impacts the health of adjacent marine areas are being controlled in coastal developments. Also, spill contingency planning and other responses to prevent pollution from ships, navigational aids, and ship reporting systems are all being improved. In addition, the state of water quality is being monitored in long-term programs throughout the Reef and threats from pollution are being assessed. Finally, all planning exercises include consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities to ensure that their interests are considered.

The Commonwealth, through its National and World Heritage programs, is protecting elements of Australia's natural and cultural heritage that are of value for this and future generations . The National Estate comprises natural, historic, and indigenous places that have aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance or other special value. The Register of the National Estate by 1997 had 11,000 places listed. The Register educates and alerts Australians to places of heritage significance. World Heritage properties are areas of outstanding universal cultural or national significance that are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1997, there were 11 Australian properties on the World Heritage List, including the Great Barrier Reef.

[Judith L. Sims ]



Hill, R. Investing in Our Natural Heritage. Canberra, Australia: Annual Report on the Commonwealth's Environment Expenditure, Minister for the Environment, 1997.

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As in most Western countries, family life in Australia has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Some changes in family trends— including increases in divorce, more cohabitation, and the falling fertility rate—have sparked misgivings about the direction that marriage and family life is heading. Such issues are best understood within a historical framework. Is today different from earlier periods of Australia's history of white settlement? Was the post-World War II period an aberration? Before attempting to answer these questions, it is important to recognize that family life before white settlement was markedly different from any period thereafter.

Indigenous Australian Families

For many thousands of years before white settlement, virtually all aspects of life for the indigenous Australians—including relationships—were regulated by a complex kinship system in which children were the responsibility of the entire system rather than only the biological parents.

This complex kinship system lost prominence in Australia during the first forty years of white settlement, when the size of the indigenous population declined rapidly ( Jackson 1988). Today, indigenous Australians represent about 2 percent of the total population. The kinship system continues in varying degrees—along with a strong social identity (Bourke 1993; Kolar and Soriano 2000). Thus, indigenous Australians may define family very broadly, for example, as "various arrangements people make to ensure that the young are nurtured and people looked after"