Speaking English is an important part of being Australian, new research shows

by Ray Clancy on March 18, 2017

in Australia

Being born in Australia is not essential when it comes to national identity but speaking English is very important, according to a new global study.

Young Australians are the least likely in the world to think that birthplace is very important to national identity, according to the report published by the Pew Research Centre in Washington, United States.

Indeed, only 4% of 18- to 34-year-olds in Australia think being born in the country is central to national identity and many more see unity as a set of national ideals and customs, rather than the colour of your skin.

It also found that around 13% of 35- to 49-year-olds think birthplace is central to identity and the older generations even more so with 19% of people aged over 50 thinking being born in Australia is what matters.

The view of younger people come at a time when more people in Australia are born overseas. The most up to date figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 27.7% of Australian citizens were born in another country and half of Australians have parents who were born elsewhere.

‘Across a number of countries that are wrestling with the politics of national identity, younger people are far more likely than their elders to take an inclusive view of what it takes for people to be truly considered one of us’ said researcher Bruce Stokes.

But Australians of all ages agree that being Australian means adopting the national customs and traditions of the country with 50% overall ranking it important. Two out of five young people agree that national customs and traditions are important to national identity, compared to three out of five over 50s.

Speaking English is regarded as a priority with 94% saying it is somewhat important and 69% saying that it is the most important requisite of national identity. A majority of all age groups hold this view, but older Australians are much more likely to voice this view than younger ones at 78% compared to 59%.

The research also found that young Australians are more likely to link Christianity and national identity than those aged 35 to 50 with 8% of 18 to 34 year olds doing so compared to 6% of 35 to 49 year olds. But one in five of those aged over 50 think being Christian is central to being Australian.

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