Should immigrants adopt the Australian way of life? This woman thinks so!

As the daughter of an immigrant, I believe that some newcomers to Australia could be doing more to assimilate into

As the daughter of an immigrant, I believe that some newcomers to Australia could be doing more to assimilate into the national culture. There have been several examples lately, that have made me think some immigrants don’t always embrace this great Australian way of life.

I am the proud daughter of an immigrant. My mother was from Korea, and my father met her there in 1950 during the Korean War. After the cease-fire was declared, my mother and father returned to Australia as a married couple. From then on, my mother embraced Australian culture.

She learnt English, and took work at a local florist shop. She made friends with her neighbours, shopped at nearby businesses and emotionally supported my dad when he resumed work as a carpenter. My mother made every effort to understand Australian culture (she was once very confused by the idea of “bringing a plate”, and bought her best ceramics along to a BBQ!)

However, that didn’t mean my mother gave up being Korean completely. She often cooked delicious Korean meals and sang Korean songs. She still wrote letters home in Korean, and when my brothers and I were eventually born, she would occasionally speak Korean to us. I regret not asking her to speak with me in her native tongue more often.

As a proud Korean-Australian though, I am troubled by recent examples where immigrants have perhaps not assimilated into the country. For instance, I’m wondering why¬†companies like Optus are bending over backwards to advertise in Arabic? It seems that immigrants should be taking the onus to learn English in Australia, rather than English-speakers needing to adopt a foreign language.

Even as a biracial Australian, I worry when I see Letters to the Editor like this: “More and more often we are being instructed, under penalty, to stop singing or saying our national anthem”, and “we are not to openly sing or play Christmas carols, including in schools or even in our shops”. I believe Australians have the right to celebrate this great country, so long as we are not harming anyone else.

Embracing Australian culture doesn’t mean that immigrants need to sacrifice their own. Instead, the true meaning of “multiculturalism” should involve just that – being proud to belong to two different groups. Being proud to be Australian AND Korean, but not at the expense of either group. Being proud to speak two languages, but not demanding others do the same. Being proud to have personal expressions of faith, but not pressing those religious expectations on others.

The majority of immigrants are so grateful to be living in Australia, but for those other few, I hope they can learn from great examples like my mother’s.

Do you agree with this woman’s observations? Do you believe that some immigrants could do more to assimilate into Australian culture? Do you think that Aussies companies¬†should be advertising in foreign languages?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. So pleased to know your mum has lived a happy life here and made Australia home. I’ll always welcome new Australians with a smile and community help if needed but if they don’t want to assimilate and expect to be treated in the ways of their culture over ours I get a bit savage, it worries me for the future, particularly the safety of the girls, but also the indoctrination of the young boys as well. It will be terrible if we follow the trend of most other countries.

  2. That ‘bring a plate’ story has been told forever.

    • I know but it is a uniquely Australian expression! We came over from England when I was 13 and the first time we heard this we were really confused. Use it ourselves now!

      • Not a uniquely Australian thing i.e. bring a plate. Many immigrants to New Zealand have also been caught out by this local custom.

    • Yes late husband was Dutch and came out here in late 60s same as a “10 pound Pom”. He was very very confused about the bring a plate and also going somewhere for tea and there wasn’t a couple of tea. We lived in Holland for a no of years and first time we invited neighbours around and asked them to bring a plate was hilarious, they decided that we were short of China and got together and presented us with a beautiful dinner service. It was a good party not much food but lots of plates.

  3. I have lived in 10 different countries, and just like Australians should adapt, when they move overseas, immigrants should adapt, when they come to Australia. Being an immigrant is a privilege.

    • Berndt thank you for such a succinct comment. You have echoed the most common experience I have had when talking with immigrants. We Australians need to be tolerant as people struggle to master English. It will not happen overnight. We should be pleased they are making the effort to learn. Broken English is better than none. English is the hardest language to learn, because it has so many inclusions from other languages which complicate it.

    • Fiona Byers Thank you, Fiona – and English is so many things. If you hear an Australian, a Singaporean, a Texan, and a Cockney or Geordie speak, you would hardly know that they speak the same language.

    • We should not be a republic. We are fine as we are and we should be proud of it. I would hate to see a fine country go Republic

    • It will be a disaster if we become a republic. We have a constitution which is unique in the world & everyone must learn & understand it.

  4. ABSOLUTELY AGREE 100%. If the situation was of the reverse and an Australian was to go to a middle eastern country the expectation would be that they fit in with the local culture. The culture sure as hell won’t change to suite them.
    As the old saying goes ” When in Rome do as the Romans do”. People from other parts of the world can’t expect Australia to change to suite them although it would appear stupid governments and bleeding heart do gooders appear to think otherwise. The situation is just as stupid here in New Zealand with our own Human rights commissioner coming out before Christmas advocating we should not refer to Christmas as Christmas but “The holiday season” so as not to offend other religion followers…WELL NO ….NZ is a Christmas based country…Join in…ignore it ….or if you don’t like our traditions GO BACK HOME!!!!!

  5. Yes I do agree that said we are fortunate in many ways for this multicultural society and I do believe that most new comers do try to assimilate, however there will always be minority groups who will go out of their way to hang on to their way of life. I have found when travelling to other countries while we are welcomed we are expected to respect their LAWS CULTURE AND WAY OF LIFE, Australia has got to stop trying to please everyone else and encourage them to embrace our LAWS CULTURE AND WAY OF LIFE. After all they chose to come to Australia FREELY THEY ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT IF IT’S NOT THE LIFESTYLE FOR THEM to leave Australia Freely.

    • This minority group is creating huge trouble “Happy Holidays” they have created change in our traditions already. This is BS. Will we not have Christmas next year?

      • Ally Morgan  

        Not sure where you live, but I have lived in South Australia for over 70 years, and not ONCE have I heard anyone say “Happy Holidays”. At this point in time it is an American thing, and has been used there for a good many years. Also no Nativity display or Christmas celebration has ever been cancelled to “appease other religions” to my knowledge. Too many urban myths about newcomers from other countries circulating.

        • Robyn  

          I have certainly heard “Happy Holiday” – my reply is “Merry Christmas”! I did my Christmas cards at the last minute this year, purchased a pack of 10 and took it home. I fancied the nice artwork, and noted the purchase helped in breast cancer research. To my horror, inside the greeting was: “Wishing you a very Happy Holiday”. I was furious, but compromised – crossed out “Holiday” and wrote “Christmas, and a great 2016”. How ridiculous is that? I will never change, neither should other Australians who have grown up with the tradition. Having said that, recently we had a lady come into our office for some information. When she left, she said “Thank you very much, and Merry Christmas to you all”. She was wearing a hijab.

    • I was born in Australia as were my parents and grandparents. I say “Happy festive season” so at what point do I stop being an Australian? I am a proud Australian and I do not kid myself that we are better or worse than anyone else. I am gobsmacked that Australians have started to define anything unlike their behaviours as unAustralian. Perhaps the only Australian behaviour that people aren’t outraged about is the alcohol abuse and violence.

    • Joan I was born in Australia also and I have only ever said MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR and still do, I will never say anything else to appease the minority groups or anyone else for that matter. After all this is Australia however if I was anywhere else in the world at this time of year I would say what the locals of country would say!

    • Joan O’Dwyer I agree in part, the majority of Aussies are decent people though, they don’t get rolling drunk or perform violent acts, the majority of us abhor this type of behaviour

    • Joan get a grip, the traditional greeting is Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and that is the Australian way, and we do not condone drunkeness or violence. Check your TV and you will see all the adds against all that nonsense.

  6. I truly do not understand the need for Australians to change. Immigrants choose to come to Australia as a better choice than their own countries. I have lived with several different ethnic communities and have always respected their rights, I believe they should respect Australians rights in their own country. I also know this is not all immigrants but a select few and people are starting to judge all by the few

  7. I have to agree, and agree also with Berndt Rudiger Olesen and Trish Daley exlpanation

  8. I totally agree with all these stories all have a choice if you dont like it go back to where you came from

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