Culture and Religion

Cultural diversity

Australia is one of the world’s most multicultural nations and is made up of many Indigenous, immigrant and refugee cultures. For the past 200 years migrants have helped change and shape our national identity by sharing their rich cultural experiences, histories and traditions.

We recognise that Aboriginal people are the First Australians. The Indigenous cultures of Australia are amongst the oldest living cultures in the world. Indigenous Aboriginal heritage plays an important role in Western Australia’s traditional and contemporary culture.

Western Australia continues to have the largest proportion of people born overseas with more than half a million people (27.1% or 531,747 persons) born overseas. People from more than 200 countries live, work and study here, speaking as many as 270 languages and identifying with more than 100 religious faiths.

English is the official language in Australia. Australian English has its own distinctive accent and vocabulary, and sounds different to American and British English.

You might find that the English you hear every day is different to the more formal style of English you learnt at school. Many Australians like to shorten words, join words so they sound like one, and use ‘slang’ that’s unique to Australia. If at first you have trouble understanding Australians, don’t worry, you’ll get used to it quickly.


 

Religion

Western Australia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural society. Religious freedom and mutual respect for different religions is an integral part of our shared culture and is an important underlying principle of multiculturalism and democracy.

In the 2006 Census, six out of ten Western Australians (59%) reported an affiliation with Christianity. After Christianity, the next most commonly reported religions were Buddhism (1.8%), Islam (1.2%) and Hinduism (0.4%). Nearly 23% of Western Australians stated they had no religious affiliation.

The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) has produced a wide range of information relating to Western Australia’s cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, including culture and religion information sheets aimed at raising awareness and understanding of key religious and cultural practices and protocols. This information is available on the OMI website.

Have you experienced racial abuse?

It's unlawful to vilify or treat a person unfairly because of their race.

If you're an international student studying in Western Australia and have been involved in an incident that you would regard as harassment, bullying or racially motivated, you're encouraged to report it to your educational institution and the Western Australian Police.

You can contact the Western Australian Police Assistance Centre on 131 444.

Do you think you have been discriminated against?

Discrimination on the basis of race or religious conviction is prohibited under the Western Australian Equal Opportunity Act, 1984. The Act also makes it unlawful to discriminate against people on the grounds of sex, marital status or pregnancy, family responsibility or family status, race, religious or political conviction, impairment, age or gender history in the areas of:

  • Work
  • Accommodation
  • Provision of goods
  • Facilities and services
  • Access to places and vehicles
  • Land
  • Membership of clubs

If you feel you've been discriminated against on any of the above grounds, you can lodge a complaint with the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity. The Commission will investigate and attempt to conciliate your complaint. If not resolved it may be referred for hearing to the State Administrative Tribunal.

You can contact the Equal Opportunity Commission on telephone 9216 3900 or visit their website at www.eoc.wa.gov.au/.



 

For more information on Living in Western Australia

Visit the Perth Education City website.