Australia is a clean and safe country that is proud to welcome international students. There are some different customs in Australia that may seem strange at first. If you understand a little about Australian values and lifestyle, you will find it easier to meet Australians and feel comfortable living here.

Some key values that reflect the Australian way of life include:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of religion
  • Democracy
  • Equality regardless of sex, marital status, religion, nationality, disability or sexual preference
  • Peacefulness
  • A 'fair go' (equal opportunity) for all and support of the ‘underdog’

What is an Australian

Australia is a culturally diverse nation, therefore, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ Australian. You will encounter a wide range of social customs, habits and perspectives on life that may be new and different from what you have experienced before. The following may help you prepare for some of these new experiences:


English is the official language of Australia, but there are many words and phrases used here which are uniquely Australian. Many Australian ‘slang’ words, you will not hear in other English speaking countries. Australians often use humour and are considered to be quite sarcastic. The Australian sense of irony may be difficult for you to grasp at first, but you'll get used to it. The Australian accent and use of 'slang' may be confusing, but if there is ever anything you don't understand, just ask!


Religion in Australia is diverse, and you are free to follow the religion of your choice. According to the 2016 Census, 52.1% of Australians declared some variety of Christianity, 30.1% stated 'no religion' and a further 9.6% chose not to answer the question. Other faiths include Muslims (2.6%), Buddhists (2.4%), Hindus (1.9%) and Jews (0.4%).

Men and women

Men and women are treated equally in Australia. Women make up nearly 50% of the workforce and most women remain in the workplace after they marry and many after they’ve had children. Women are also free to breastfeed in public.

There are no social rules regarding friendships or dating in Australia. Friendships with members of the opposite sex, and social events with both sexes are common. It is also common for couples to live together before they are married. It’s also common for men and women to live in a share-house together. People in Australia generally don't have servants, and men and women equally share the cooking and domestic duties in the home.

  • When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person's right hand with your right hand. People who do not know each other generally do not kiss or hug when meeting
  • It is a sign of respect to look at the eyes of the person while they are talking to you
  • Saying 'please' if you are asking for something and 'thank you' if you have received something, is considered customary in Australia and you may be considered rude if you do not use these words
  • Punctuality is important for all types of appointments. If you must cancel an appointment, or will be late, it is courteous to call and explain to the person waiting for you. Some professionals (such as doctors) may charge money if you are late or miss the appointment without notifying them before the appointment time
  • Smoking is not permitted in all public places, such as restaurants, train or bus stations, airports and shopping centres. Smoking is also prohibited on all CQUniversity campuses

What is dating like in Australia? What can I expect?

Visit the free e-learning module below to discover how to stay safe when it comes to dating and engaging in sexual activity. The eLearning module offers a comprehensive online sexual health education course, accompanied by a series of informative YouTube videos discussing: dating; healthy relationships; consent; sexual health and STIs; and pregnancy, contraception and abortion.

Get informed! This is the time to learn about life outside of the classroom to ensure you can make the best choices for yourself.

E-Learning module

Video series:

© Family Planning Victoria, funded by Study Melbourne. Used by permission.

Please contact if you have any further questions or queries.