Australia is home to over 5 million immigrants and while this sometimes imposes tensions on economic refugees and migrants, it’s important to remember that the notion of Australian culture is in some sense both fixed and dynamic. The Australian ruling establishment are generally Caucasian settlers from Europe, and it is these cultural norms that are best absorbed by the newcomer to Australia from Thailand
Both Thais and Australians have a reputation for friendliness, but many Thais misunderstand the social etiquette of either introducing themselves or just saying hello to people in a social setting that they don’t know. Normally in Thailand it is considered improper or too forward to engage with people in this manner. However in Australian social settings such as family get-togethers, work parties, business settings and so forth, it is entirely natural to say hello or introduce yourself to people who otherwise might be considered strangers. Just because you don’t know them, doesn’t mean you can’t get to know them. Shyness is a handicap in Australia not a matter of politeness
Down to Earth
Probably the most charming quality of Australians is their lack of distance in social settings. There’s a humble sort of charm in being candid and frank with people that Thais would do well to adopt. It’s not about being crass or slightly vulgar to fit in, but more about being open and honest without affectation. Pretentiousness is one of the least evident qualities in Australia and arguably the factor that sets them apart from some European or Transatlantic countries. By exchanging our mutual views of the world unvarnished and with sincerity, Australians will open up to the Thai visitor and respect their position on issues much more easily.
Thais often interpret this word as trying to avoid being intrusive, as they would do in social settings in Thailand, but actually Australian modesty is about being low key on what their achievements are. It’s very unusual for Australians to discuss their academic qualifications or professional achievements outside of the work setting. Modesty is a great Australian quality and is more about show me who you are, than tell me what you are all about.
The Great Australian BBQ
Outdoor life is cherished in Australian cultural life, so jump at the chance to go to as many BBQ’s as you can to settle in quickly. Some points of etiquette can see the Thai person through the first few until everything is natural and fun as indeed it should be.
Bring a gift – A small gift is a wonderful way of showing the host they are appreciated for the invitation
Bring your own – Guests that bring their own wine or beer are welcomed for their generosity and courtesy
Call in advance – Just call to check and see if you can prepare a dish to bring. It shows love and consideration