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Culture

cultureDo you ever wonder what makes you think the way you do or where your ideas come from?

Many things influence who we are in life and what is important to us. We become who we are and learn how to think as we observe, experience and find out about life. People, places and families can be a big part of this. Culture is also a big part of this.

What is culture?

Culture can be described as the beliefs, values and customs that any particular group of people share.

Some examples of cultural groups are:

  • families
  • ethnic or traditional groups
  • friends and peers
  • religions
  • schools
  • generational groups
  • work and interest groups

Culture in Australia

When we use the word 'culture' we often think about ethnicity or race. Ethnicity and race can have a big influence on how people think, what they value and how they behave.

Australians come from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds and have been in the country for varying amounts of time. Some of us have:

  • just arrived in Australia
  • parents who moved to Australia from another country
  • grandparents or great grandparents who came over to Australia from another country
  • ancestors who have lived here for thousands of years

Cultural Awareness

Are you aware of your own culture, and do you notice other people's cultures? It is important to be aware of the many diverse cultures in Australia because it helps to:

  • understand that other people have different points of view to our own
  • understand why people value certain things above other things
  • respect other people's beliefs, values, and expression of their culture

Becoming Culturally Aware

Becoming culturally aware is about:

  • developing an understanding of yourself and your own cultural background
  • being able to see where others are similar or different to you
  • learning more about cultures that are different to you own

Things you can do to be more culturally aware include:

  • Understanding and learning about your own culture
    You might ask yourself why your family believes what they believe, or why your family does what they do. You might think about what you and your friends value or talk about the most. If you have a religion, you might consider why your religion is important to you. You might also think about what ideas or beliefs you share with other groups or people around you

  • Noticing other people's cultures
    You might notice that:
    • some people have lots to do with their extended families and maybe have their grandparents or relatives live with them
    • your neighbour's cooking smells different to the cooking smells in your own house. You might also notice the different foods people eat to celebrate certain days in the year
    • you have to be given the ok by the guys at the skate park if you are new to the area

    Everywhere you look you can see other people's cultures.

  • Finding out more about cultures that are different to your own
    Try checking out the web (although only get info from websites you can trust) or reading some books. You might also be able to learn about other cultures through school or uni. If you're interested in a certain person's culture, have a chat with them. Just remember never to make assumptions, and always be respectful

If you would like to talk to someone about cultural differences, or about anything else, you can always call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or use our web or email counselling services.

Published: 2 July 2010