Publication Date



Paper presented at the Fourth International Biennial SELF Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2006.


The question “What does it mean to be an Australian?” has significant implications for understanding factors contributing to social cohesion; explaining and promoting ourselves to others; imagining and shaping Australia’s future; and shaping civics curriculum. The purpose of this study was to identify key components of Australian national identity of a sample of Australians (N = 418) comprised of primary (N=71); secondary (N=146), Technical and Further Education (TAFE) (N=59) and University (n=142) students. Participants completed a written response to the question “What does it mean to be Australian?” Responses were analysed and coded by two coders using content analysis to identify key themes. Key themes identified were analysed separately for each category of student and compared. Results indicated progressive and traditional notions of Australian national identity. Traditional themes include: Citizenship and Participation, Patriotism and Pride, Personal Attributes, Unique Aspects and lifestyle, Mateship, and the notion of a Fair Go for all. Progressive notions included themes such as Societal Characteristics, and Respect for Other Cultures suggesting that some aspects of national identity may be changing.