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My neighbour is Anglo-Australian


Anglo-Australians trace their ancestry back to Great Britain and Ireland. The settlement of New South Wales in 1788 by both transported British convicts and free settlers changed the face, landscape and demographics of this land. British settlement came with tragic results for the lives of the First Nations peoples living here.

Between 1788 and 1868 over 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia from the British Isles. Free settlers also introduced European animals and plants, as well as new industries and agricultural practices. The 1800s gold rushes in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia brought people from many different countries, including China.

In 1901, the various colonies were joined into a single country, the Commonwealth of Australia. In the same year, the new Commonwealth enacted the Immigration Restriction Act (known as the White Australia policy). Only people from the United Kingdom, Ireland or central Europe were accepted as immigrants. This policy wasn't abolished until the 1970s.

After the Second World War many immigrants began arriving from Europe, with Italian migrants being the second largest group after the English. Similarly, after the Vietnam War many Vietnamese migrated to Australia. In recent years most new migrants have been from India and China. In 2021 British citizens were still the largest group of migrants living in Australia, but it is unlikely they will remain so.


People of British/Irish descent usually have some historical ties to Christianity, either Protestant or Catholic and are some of the 44% of Australians who identified as Christian in the 2021 census. However, the number of Australians who now follow 'no religion' has tripled in the last 30 years. Some Anglo-Australians may have no interest in discussing issues of spirituality. Check for interest before engaging in conversations about spirituality and faith.


Many Anglo-Australians only speak English. Anglo-Australians may not understand the complexity of navigating multiple languages and cultural influences.

Family life

In recent years, there has been a large cultural shift, with significant changes in some areas of society to attitudes about marriage, divorce, same-sex relationships and cohabitation.

Anglo-Australians tend to resist attempts by family to influence their choice of partner or lifestyle. There has also been an increase in the social acceptability of co-habitation before, or instead of, marriage and divorce has become more common. In many couples, both adults have full-time jobs. Many Anglo- Australians, particularly in urban centres, feel 'time-poor.' Short visits to another person's home are often appreciated. Time is seen as a valuable commodity and lateness may be regarded as impolite. Visitors may be reluctant to 'drop in' on a friend without first notifying them, as many people are busy, or may not be home.

Food and drink

Anglo-Australians traditionally favoured sandwiches or 'meat and 3 veg', however this is rapidly changing. When invited to someone's home, people will often ask "What can I bring?" Visitors may be asked to 'BYO' (Bring Your Own alcohol) or 'bring a plate' (some food to share).

Alcohol consumption is legal in Australia from the age of 18. Beer and wine are served at most social events.

Considerations when meeting with people of Anglo-Australian ancestry:

  • Anglo-Australians tend to dress and behave quite casually, even in professional situations. There is often very little difference in the way a boss and their workers may dress or speak.
  • Egalitarianism (being equal) is valued, and leaders and authority figures can be questioned or disagreed with. Open boasting about status, wealth and family background is viewed negatively.
  • Anglo-Australians may seem very direct and blunt when giving feedback in a situation. It is seen as being honest and straight forward, which is valued as a character trait. Likewise, humour may often be expressed by sarcasm. While it may sound insulting and hurtful, such sarcasm can be a sign of a close relationship between people.
  • In social interactions, eye-contact is interpreted as a sign that people are listening to what is said. Anglo-Australians may be sensitive about discussing politics. Safe topics to discuss with a new acquaintance include sport, inquiries about work, and general comments about the weather or the cost of living. Avoid specific questions about how much money someone earns or pays for housing.
Anglicare acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original and ongoing custodians of the lands and waters on which we live and work.

Inspired by the gospel of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, Anglicare's vision for reconciliation is a nation in which Australia's First Peoples are restored in dignity, respect, empowerment and opportunity.