It’s Ocker Indoctrination, Mate

Rhianna King, The Age (Melbourne), October 12, 2007

NEW arrivals to Australia will have to read a book explaining slang terms such as barbie, telly and cuppa, which also gives tips on personal hygiene and social customs. It’s part of the Howard Government’s new hard line on migrant integration.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews will today launch the 50-page booklet, Life in Australia, which will be given to all permanent and temporary migrants.

The book emphasises the importance of English and provides tips on slang. Australians often shorten words; for example, football becomes “footy”, television becomes “telly” and barbecue “barbie”, the book says.

The use of some of these words, often coupled with a sense of humour characterised by irony and irreverence, can sometimes cause confusion.

A mate was often a friend, but could also be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter or son. However, a mate could also be a total stranger.

Newcomers are also told the importance of being on time, RSVPing and blowing their nose using a handkerchief or tissue.

The book will be given to permanent and temporary migrants, but only permanent migrants will have to sign a statement confirmingthat they understand it. Permanent and temporary migrants will from next week also have to sign a values statement committing to abide by Australian ways of life and values, including respect for equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equality of men and women.

Life in Australia tells new arrivals they will be living in a country that is stable, prosperous and democratic.

They would be joining a culturally diverse but cohesive society made up of Australians of many backgrounds, united by shared values and responsibilities.

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