What the hell does UnAustralian mean?

In Lessons, Life on April 15, 2011 by kiltforhire Tagged: , , ,

I noticed my friend Jaya Myler (@jayamyler) on Twitter saying she thinks the term UnAustralian is being bandied around too much this week.

In fact this ad came out this week:

And it made me realise that having lived in Australia for the last seven years I have no idea what UnAustralian means.

It only seems to be used by people who want to have a go at other people when they have no basis for attacking them or when they don’t want to be as honest as they should.

People have tried to explain UnAustralian as being all about mateship, a bond between people etc etc and yet I don’t see that happening a lot. At least no more than in any other country I have been in.

Now I realise this blog post may upset some of my Australian friends but to be honest I don’t think I’ve heard any of them ever utter the phrase except in jest – the problem is that politicians, advertisers and a whole bunch of others seem to use it as a way of getting at people they don’t like or don’t agree with and I personally think that’s damned rude. If you have something to say to someone then say it and don’t hide behind a phrase that doesn’t seem to exist in modern day.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m UnAustralian for writing this blog post but to be honest the bond I have with my friends in the UK is the same bond I have with my friends in Australia.

I’m proud of my Scottish heritage. I swell with pride when I hear the Flower of Scotland sung and I have no doubt Australians do exactly the same when they hear someone sing their national anthem.

So yeah I guess I’m calling out the phrase UnAustralian. Maybe I just don’t understand it but then I guess I’d like to ask people…do you understand it?

3 Responses to “What the hell does UnAustralian mean?”

  1. UnAustralian is made up rubbish to try and shame people who disagree with their position. If anything is UnAustralian it is getting conned by mega businesses like the Hotels and Clubs, into thinking they are looking out for you rather than their own bottom line.

  2. ABsolutely agree – but then I’m a British ex-pat so maybe I’m not supposed to understand either.

    I have quite often been vaguely offended by the claims of ‘Australian mateship’ and ‘unAustralian’ bandied around as if there is something particularly remarkable about how Australians conduct themselves.

    There was a bit of this during the Qld flood coverage with some journos talking about the ‘Australian spirit of pulling together in a crisis’ and quoting people as saying how they will pull through ‘because we’re Australian’.

    Not to criticise anyone for remaining positive and doing incredible things to get through adversity, but to imply that it is somehow innately Australian to do so implies that the rest of us would have turned our backs on our neighbours or somehow behaved in a less than acceptable way.

    Hey, we brits got through the blitz. We know a thing or too about pulling together in times of need too. And other countries can point to similar tragedies and events that have brought communities together. The Iran earthquake, the Japan earthquake, the ’04 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina – all have stories of incredible humanity and support within communities – even if some of the governments weren’t exactly on top of it all (US, I’m looking at you).

    Everywhere in the world, you will find a level of mateship no more nor less than here. Everywhere.

    Having said that, the Brits used to be just as jingoistic in describing their own ‘stiff upper lip’ qualities and sticking together during the war, so Australia isn’t the only one guilty of such nationalistic distortion. It’s just that Australia still does it – a lot – whereas most other societies grew out of it. (The US still has a similar parochial attitude to its own nationalistic qualities though).

    So maybe instead of some ill-informed and distorted national pride, we should recognise these an inherent human traits we all have – regardless of race or creed. We should talk about the ‘humanist spirit of mateship’ or some things being ‘unhumanist’ instead (rather than the rather more loaded term ‘inhuman’).

  3. Like you I first noted it in conversation and online in a joking framework, but I think that it has been adopted by focus group pollsters,public relations types, advertisers and pollies for more sinister reasons.

    I think that in that context it has a very insidious and icky connotation, which could be used to tar others, without having to explain the logic of why they are unAustralian. They are just that. Something bad or evil. They can then just leave it at that. Sort of have you stopped beating your wife type of thing.

    Ugly. It fits right in with Tony Abbotts current long term election strategy.

    Living in America exactly the same tactic was used with UnAmerican. That had more to do with patriotism there, but it was a very broad brush.

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