If you’re looking to apply for a provisional, permanent, or sometimes temporary visa, and over 18 years of age, the Australian Government requires you to read a document which outlines what it’s like to live in Australia, and our understandings and beliefs as Australian citizens, before you apply for your visa which may later lead to Australian citizenship.
Understanding these values will ultimately lead to a stable, peaceful and prosperous society, and these values and principles have been adapted and shaped to be respectful of cultures and the beliefs of the millions of people who have settled in Australia over the centuries, as well as the traditional inhabitants of the land. All Australians, no matter what their background, race or religion, are expected to uphold these shared beliefs, although they don’t seek to make everyone the same. Quite the contrary in fact – they seek to embrace individuality and the theme of equality and respect for differences is a strong underpinning principle throughout.
So what are these values and beliefs?
The first is all about fundamental freedoms. Within legal boundaries, Australians have the right to speak freely, hold their own opinions when it comes to politics or religion and move throughout Australia without restrictions.
The second celebrates equality and dignity, and states that all Australians are considered equal and should treat each other with dignity and respect. The laws in Australia are very thorough when it comes to discrimination on the basis of sex, race, disability and age, and violence, intimidation and humiliation are not tolerated.
The next three cover Freedom. Freedom of speech, religion and government, and freedom of association. Australians have the right to say or write what they think about Australian governments or any social issue, so long as it does not endanger other people. We have the right to follow any religion we choose, and excepting those which are enacted by Parliament (such as divorce law), religious laws have no legal status here. And lastly, Australians have the right to gather and peacefully protest against the government or any other organisation. Similarly, there’s freedom in choosing or not choosing to join any legal organisations, such as unions.
The Values Statement also covers the law, and supporting parliamentary democracy. Australia is a democracy and therefore the citizens decide how the country is governed, who governs it and the laws to which we must all abide. This means that all Australians are protected by those laws, but they’re expected to adhere to them as well. All Australians are considered equal under the law, and as mentioned, the laws surrounding equality are comprehensive. Australians value equal opportunity, and being given a ‘fair go’ means that everyone achieves based on their talents, work and effort, rather than their sex, race, or just plain favouritism.
Lastly, we Australians cherish the fact that we’re a peaceful nation. We reject violence as a way of dealing with conflict and instead support conversation and democracy as a way to sort out our issues.
We’re a culture which embraces our diversity, and we look after our ‘mates’. It’s this strong community spirit which enables all of our citizens, whether you’ve been here for your whole life, or recently moved to our shores, which makes us a proud race which is committed to its laws and values, and making Australia the wonderful place that it is to live and prosper.