Home to nearly five million immigrants from 160 countries,
Australia is rich in cultural diversity. Australians, or "Aussies,"
enjoy an easy-going lifestyle and are generally friendly and
relaxed. Modesty and equality are valued.
Meeting and Greeting
- Shake hands with everyone present upon meeting and before
leaving. Allow women to offer their hands first.
- Women generally do not shake hands with other women.
- Use titles, Mr., Mrs., and Miss when first introduced.
- Australians generally move to a first-name basis quickly.
Still, wait to use first names until invited to do so.
- Academic or job-related titles are downplayed.
- To beckon a waiter use a quiet hand motion.
- When yawning, cover your mouth and excuse yourself.
- Winking at women is considered rude.
- The "V" sign (made with index and middle fingers, palm facing
inward) is a very vulgar gesture. The "thumbs up" gesture is also
- Personal relationships are important in the Australian
business world. Connections are valued. An introduction by an
established representative may be helpful in establishing a
relationship with an Australian firm.
- Australians take punctuality seriously. If possible, arrive
fifteen minutes early for a business meeting.
- Australians will quickly get down to business. Communications
will be direct, good-humored and to the point.
- Australian businesspeople tend to be pragmatic, efficient and
profit-oriented. They appreciate straight-forward, open
- Australians dislike one-upmanship. Donít overplay
qualifications, rank or titles.
- Negotiations proceed quickly. Bargaining is not customary.
Proposals should be presented with acceptable terms. Leave some
allowance for some give and take.
- Australians will often negotiate major issues without
over-emphasis on details. However, contracts are generally
detailed and firm.
Dining and Entertainment
- Always arrive on time or a few minutes early for a dinner.
- The person who makes the invitation generally pays the bill in
restaurants. However, it isn't unusual for friends to split the
- Australians follow continental-style dining etiquette (fork
held in the left hand; knife in right).
- Barbecues -- very informal "cook outs" -- are popular in
Australia. Sometimes guests bring their own meat or other items.
- The guest of honor is generally seated to the right of host.
- Soup should be eaten by moving the spoon away from you, not
- Lay knife/fork parallel on plate at 5:25 position when
- Keep your hands above the table and elbows off the table.
- Offer to help with meal preparation and clean-up when being
entertained in a home.
- Do not say "I'm stuffed" after a meal. This means you are
- Australians wear fashions similar those worn by Europeans and
- For business, men should wear conservative jackets and ties.
During the summer months, jackets are often removed. Women should
wear skirts and blouses or dresses.
- It is not customary to exchange business gifts during initial
- When invited to an Australianís home, bring a small gift
(flowers, chocolates, or books about your home country or region)
for your hosts.
- Australia produces excellent wine. Taking wine would be like
taking sand to the desert.
- Stick with standard English, not Aussie terms.
- Aussies dislike class distinctions and have a history of
"cutting down the tall poppy." This grew out of the Australian
prisoners' hatred of their British overseers. Many Australian
politicians have declined the designation of knighthood for fear
of alienating their constituents.
- Australians sit in the front seat of a taxi/limousine. A
single passenger sitting in the back seat is viewed as "putting on
- Australians respect people with strong opinions, even if they
- Avoid discussions about the treatment of the aboriginal
- Donít comment on anyone's accent. Accents often distinguish
- If you are teased, you are expected to reply in kind, with
good humor. Such self-confidence will increase an Australian's
respect for you. They do not admire a subservient attitude.
- Do not sniff or blow your nose in public.