Ethnic groups: White 92 percent, Asian 7 percent, Aboriginal and other 1 percent
Capital: Canberra (but the largest city is Sydney)
Currency: Australian dollar
National holidays: New year’s Day (Jan 1), Australia Day (Jan 26), Good Friday and Easter Monday (vary – same as UK), Anzac Day (Apr 25), Queen’s birthday holiday (date of holiday varies across Australia), Christmas Day (Dec 25), Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Business hours: Offices - Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 5.30pm. Banks – Monday – Thursday, 9.30am – 4.30pm, Friday 9.30am – 5pm. Shops – Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm and some on Sundays 9am – 4pm.
English is the official language of Australia – however, due to its large population of immigrants over 100 languages are spoken in the country. When speaking, Australians tend to favour directness over diplomacy – in other words, people can be somewhat blunt. Try to be brief in discussions – do not waffle. You should try to actively participate in discussions – ask questions about anything you don’t understand, or would like further detail on.
Individuals who are too self-promoting may be looked down upon and perceived as arrogant – try to talk about your company’s achievements, not your own. Humour is very important to Australians – while it may seem inappropriate in a business setting, you can often expect to hear managers making jokes.
Companies in Australia tend to be non-hierarchical. People’s individual achievements are usually seen as more important than their job title or rank. Managers tend not to see themselves as superiors to other staff members – instead, Australians tend to favour non-authoritativeness. It would be better to consult with other staff rather than giving direct instructions.
Open debate is usually encouraged in Australian companies, as is challenging other peoples’ ideas. While debates may seem heated to people from other cultures, it is rarely confrontational.
While punctuality is valued in Australia, meetings often tend to start slightly late as there will often be small talk. Little planning is usually done unless a meeting is client-facing. Rather than giving directions, meetings are usually used to debate issues or come to decisions. If there is an agenda, it may be followed quite loosely.
Team work is very common in Australia, so good team working skills are valued. However, competitiveness within teams is looked down upon – competition should be against ‘the other team’, e.g. rival businesses, rather than workmates.
Standard business clothing of suits and shirts should be worn for any meetings, although some companies may be more informal, especially in rural areas. Excessive jewellery or accessories should be avoided. Bear in mind that Australia tends to be very hot – try to wear lightweight clothing.