SOCIAL & CULTURAL

ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN AUSTRALIA

While living, and studying abroad may be an exciting adventure, it can also present a range of challenges. Having decided to study and live in Australia you will be undertaking adjustments in many areas of your life including cultural, social and academic. It is also important to remember that while these changes are occurring you will be embarking upon a new semester of study (for many of you in a different language) and be away from your usual supports, networks and resources. Adjustment to a new country and culture is a process that occurs gradually and takes time. The values, beliefs, traditions and customs of your home country may vary greatly from those in Australia and adapting to the Australian way of life may take some time.

OVERCOMING CULTURE SHOCK


Once you realise you have culture shock, getting over it and moving on to better adjustment with the host culture will depend on you. It is you who must take some positive steps to feel better, and the sooner you take them, the better!

  1. Recognition: First, you should remember that culture shock is a normal part of your adjustment and that you may have some of the symptoms. Some of your reactions may not be normal for you; you may be more emotional or more sensitive, or lose your sense of humour. Recognising your culture shock symptoms will help you learn about yourself as you work your way through it.
  2. Be objective: Second, try to analyse objectively the differences you are finding between your home and your host country. Look for the reasons your host country does things differently. Remember that host customs and norms are (mostly) logical to them, just as your customs and norms at home are logical to you!
  3. Set goals: Third, set some goals for yourself to redevelop your feeling of control in your life. These should be small tasks that you can accomplish each day. For example, if you do not feel like leaving your room, plan a short activity each day that will get you out. Go to a post office or store to buy something, ride a bus or go to a sports event. If you feel that language is your problem, set daily goals to learn more: study fifteen minutes a day; learn five new words a day; learn one new expression each day; watch a TV program in your new language for 30 minutes. Each goal that you achieve will give you more and more self-confidence that you can cope.
  4. Share your feelings: Fourth, find local friends who are sympathetic and understanding. Talk to them about your feelings and specific situations. They can help you understand ideas from their cultural point of view.

(Source: Rotary International Youth Exchange)





CULTURE SHOCK

Culture shock is the feeling of being out of place in an unfamiliar environment. The initial excitement of moving to a new country often subsides when different cultural expectations challenge you to attend to daily responses and behaviours previously taken for granted. The potential stress of dealing with these persistent challenges can result in feelings of hostility and frustration with your host country as well as a profound longing for home.

OVERCOMING CULTURE SHOCK


Once you realise you have culture shock, getting over it and moving on to better adjustment with the host culture will depend on you. It is you who must take some positive steps to feel better, and the sooner you take them, the better!

  1. Recognition: First, you should remember that culture shock is a normal part of your adjustment and that you may have some of the symptoms. Some of your reactions may not be normal for you; you may be more emotional or more sensitive, or lose your sense of humour. Recognising your culture shock symptoms will help you learn about yourself as you work your way through it.
  2. Be objective: Second, try to analyse objectively the differences you are finding between your home and your host country. Look for the reasons your host country does things differently. Remember that host customs and norms are (mostly) logical to them, just as your customs and norms at home are logical to you!
  3. Set goals: Third, set some goals for yourself to redevelop your feeling of control in your life. These should be small tasks that you can accomplish each day. For example, if you do not feel like leaving your room, plan a short activity each day that will get you out. Go to a post office or store to buy something, ride a bus or go to a sports event. If you feel that language is your problem, set daily goals to learn more: study fifteen minutes a day; learn five new words a day; learn one new expression each day; watch a TV program in your new language for 30 minutes. Each goal that you achieve will give you more and more self-confidence that you can cope.
  4. Share your feelings: Fourth, find local friends who are sympathetic and understanding. Talk to them about your feelings and specific situations. They can help you understand ideas from their cultural point of view.

(Source: Rotary International Youth Exchange)





AUSTRALIAN CULTURE

SOCIAL CUSTOMS - GREETING PEOPLE


When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person’s right hand with your right hand. People who do not know each other generally do not kiss or hug when meeting. When you first meet someone, it is polite not to talk about personal matters.

Many Australians look at the eyes of the people they are talking with. They consider this a sign of respect, and an indication that they are listening. Do not stare at the person for a long time. You can address a new acquaintance using their title and family name. You may use their first name when they ask you to or use it in the introduction. In the workplace and among friends, most Australians tend to be informal and call each other by their first names.




CLOTHING CUSTOMS


The types of clothing that people wear reflect the diversity in our society just as much as the variation in climate. There are no laws or rules on clothing, but you must wear certain clothing for work situations. Most workplaces have dress standards.

Outside of the work situation, clothing is an individual choice; many people dress for comfort, for the social situation or the weather. Clubs, movie theatres and other places require patrons to be in neat, clean clothes and appropriate footwear.

Many Australians live close to the beach and the sea. On hot days, they may wear little clothing on the beach and surrounds. This does not mean that people who dress to go to the beach or swimming have low moral standards. It means that this is what we accept on and near our beaches.

People from other countries can choose to wear their national dress. They may be religious or customary items and include monks’ robe, a burqa, a hijab or a turban. As a tolerant society with people from many different cultures, clothing is a part of cultural beliefs and practices that is encouraged.




POLITE BEHAVIOUR


‘Please‘ and ‘thank you’ are words that are very helpful when dealing with other people, and buying goods or services. When asked if you would like something, like a cup of tea, it is polite to say, ‘Yes please’, or just ‘please’ if you would like it, or ‘no, thank you’ if you do not. When you receive something, it is polite to thank the person by saying ‘thank you’. Australians tend to think that people who do not say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ are being rude. Using these words will help in building a good relationship.

Sometimes a sensitive issue may come up in conversation. Not to talk may seem rude. It is politer to say ‘sorry, it is too hard to explain’ then to ignore a question.

Australians often say, ‘Excuse me’ to get a person’s attention and ‘sorry’ if we bump into them. We also say, ‘Excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’ if we burp or belch in public or a person’s home.

You should always try to be on time for meetings and other visits. If you realise you are going to be late, try to contact the person to let them know. This is very important for visits to professionals as you may be charged money for being late or if you miss the appointment without notifying them before the appointment time.

Most Australians blow their noses into a handkerchief or tissue, not onto the footpath. This is also true for spitting. Many people will also say, ‘Bless you’ when you sneeze. This phrase has no religious intent.

For more information about Australia visit: https://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/facts-and-figures




AUSTRALIAN SLANG


Much common word usage or ‘slang’ may seem strange to people new to Australia. Slang words start from many different sources. Some words are shortened versions of longer words. Many were expressions already used by migrants who came from the north of England. If you are unsure what an expression means, it is all right to ask the person who said it to explain. Some common expressions are:

  • Bring a plate –when you are invited to a party and asked to ‘bring a plate’, this means to bring a dish of food to share with your host and other guests. Take the food to the party in any type of dish, not just a plate, and it is usually ready to serve. This is common for communal gatherings such as for school, work or a club. If you are unsure what to bring, you can ask the host.

​​

  • BYO –when an invitation to a party says ‘BYO’, this means ‘bring your own’ drink. If you do not drink alcohol, it is acceptable to bring juice, soft drink or soda, or water. Some restaurants are BYO. You can bring your own wine to these, although there is usually a charge for providing and cleaning glasses called ‘corkage’.

​​

  • Arvo –This is short for afternoon. ‘Drop by this arvo,’ means please come and visit this afternoon.

​​

  • Fortnight –This term describes a period of two weeks.​

​​

  • Barbeque, BBQ, barbie –outdoor cooking, usually of meat or seafood over a grill or hotplate using gas or coals. The host serves the meat with salads and bread rolls. It is common for a guest, when invited to a BBQ, to ask if they should bring anything.

​​

  • Snag –The raw type sausages usually cooked at a BBQ. They can be made of pork, beef or chicken.

​​

  • Chook –The term chook means a chicken, usually a hen.

​​

  • Cuppa –a cup of tea or coffee ‘Drop by this arvo for a cuppa’ means please come and visit this afternoon for a cup of tea or coffee.

​​

  • Loo or dunny –These are slang terms for toilet. If you are a guest in someone’s house for the first time, it is usually polite to ask permission to use his or her toilet. ‘May I use your toilet please?’ Some people ask, ‘Where’s the loo?’

​​

  • Fair dinkum –honest, the truth. ‘Fair dinkum?’ when used as a question means, ‘is it really true?’

​​

  • To be crook –to be sick or ill.

​​

  • Flat out –busy

​​

  • Shout –to buy someone a drink. At a bar or a pub when a group of friends meet, it is usual for each person to ‘shout a round’, meaning buy everybody a drink. Each person takes a turn at buying a ’round’. It is also acceptable to say that you do not drink (alcohol). This also means you are not obliged to shout.

​​

  • Bloke –a man. Sometimes if you ask for help, you may get an answer to ‘see that bloke over there’.

​​

  • How ya goin?‘How are you going?’ means how are you, or how do you do? It does not mean what form of transport you are taking. Sometimes it can sound like ‘ow-ya-goin-mate’.

​​

For more information on Australian slang visit: www.studyinaustralia.gov.au




RESPONDING TO AN INVITATION


  • What could I be invited to? If you get an invitation to lunch, dinner, barbeque, party, wedding, birthday, or any type of event you will usually respond with a letter or phone call. The midday meal is called lunch, and the evening meal is called dinner or ‘tea’. ‘Tea’ can also mean a cup of tea or ‘cuppa’. If invited for tea, the time of the event is a good sign of whether your host means dinner or just a cup of tea. An invitation to tea, for anytime after 6pm (1800 hours) usually means dinner.

  • How are invitations made?Invitations can be written or spoken. Written ones usually ask for RSVP, (which isrespondez s’il vous plaitin French) and means please reply. You should reply whether you intend to go or not. The invitation will tell you how to reply and when the reply is expected. Your host may be specific about how many people are invited. If your host invites the whole family, you should tell your host how many people would go. Usually a family is the parents and their children.

​​

  • What if I do accept an invitation?When you accept an invitation to a meal, it is also usual to tell the host what you cannot eat. It is perfectly okay to say that you are a vegetarian and do not eat meat or that you are Muslim or Jewish and do not eat pork.It is not polite to arrive lateand you should make a telephone call to your host to explain if you are going to be late.

​​

  • What if I cannot accept an invitation? You may not always be able to accept an invitation. The best way to refuse is to say, ‘thank you, unfortunately I/we have other plans at that time’. To say that you are too busy may seem extremely rude, even if it is true. Once you accept an invitation, you should only cancel if something arises where you cannot go. You should also explain the reason to your host. To cancel because you got a better invitation from somewhere else can seem very rude, and can affect new friendships. Sometimes it is best not to accept an invitation right away and to ask your host whether they would mind if you check your plans and reply to them later.




TIPPING


Tipping is not generally expected or practiced in Australia. This is because throughout Australia, service industry staff are covered by minimum wage laws and therefore do not rely on tips for their income. However, it is acceptable to leave a small amount (perhaps 10%) should you feel you have received exceptional service.





PUBLIC HOLIDAYS & SPECIAL CELEBRATIONS

Australians hold certain days each year as special days of national meaning. We may recognise the day with a holiday for everyone or we can celebrate the day as a nation with special events. Most States and Territories observe some of the public holidays on the same date. They have others on different dates or have some days that only their State or Territory celebrates. In larger cities, most shops, restaurants and public transport continue to operate on public holidays. In smaller towns, most shops and restaurants close.

OVERCOMING CULTURE SHOCK


Once you realise you have culture shock, getting over it and moving on to better adjustment with the host culture will depend on you. It is you who must take some positive steps to feel better, and the sooner you take them, the better!

  1. Recognition: First, you should remember that culture shock is a normal part of your adjustment and that you may have some of the symptoms. Some of your reactions may not be normal for you; you may be more emotional or more sensitive, or lose your sense of humour. Recognising your culture shock symptoms will help you learn about yourself as you work your way through it.
  2. Be objective: Second, try to analyse objectively the differences you are finding between your home and your host country. Look for the reasons your host country does things differently. Remember that host customs and norms are (mostly) logical to them, just as your customs and norms at home are logical to you!
  3. Set goals: Third, set some goals for yourself to redevelop your feeling of control in your life. These should be small tasks that you can accomplish each day. For example, if you do not feel like leaving your room, plan a short activity each day that will get you out. Go to a post office or store to buy something, ride a bus or go to a sports event. If you feel that language is your problem, set daily goals to learn more: study fifteen minutes a day; learn five new words a day; learn one new expression each day; watch a TV program in your new language for 30 minutes. Each goal that you achieve will give you more and more self-confidence that you can cope.
  4. Share your feelings: Fourth, find local friends who are sympathetic and understanding. Talk to them about your feelings and specific situations. They can help you understand ideas from their cultural point of view.

(Source: Rotary International Youth Exchange)





HOME FIRE SAFETY

International students are increasingly appearing in statistics related to fire incidents and deaths in Australia. Sadly, most of these fires are preventable. You can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of fire in your accommodation. Follow the fire safety tips below to help you reduce the chance of fire in your accommodation.

SMOKE ALARMS


When you are sleeping, you cannot smell smoke. Smoke alarms save lives. They wake you and alert you to the danger from smoke and fire. You MUST have a smoke alarm where you live, it is the law. All homes must have a smoke alarm on each level. Landlords are legally responsible for installation of alarms in rental properties. Tenants are responsible for testing and maintaining alarms. If you live on campus, there will be a smoke alarm in your room. If you live off campus in a house or flat there must be a smoke alarm outside your bedroom. Look after your smoke alarm; it can save your life.

  • Test your smoke alarm monthly by pressing the test button.
  • DON’T remove the battery
  • DON’T take the smoke alarm down
  • DON’T cover the smoke alarmReplace the battery in your smoke alarm yearly.
  • Regularly vacuum over and around your smoke alarm to remove dust and debris to keep it clean.

If there is no smoke alarm or it does not work report it to your landlord.




ELECTRICITY


The safe use of electricity assists in preventing house fires.

  • Improper use of power boards and double adaptors can lead to fires. A double adaptor or a power board plugged into another double adaptor or power board creates a danger of overloading the system. For safety, use a single extension cord rather than joining shorter cords. Leaving an extension cord coiled while in use or placing a cord under floor coverings can cause overheating
  • Be careful to keep electrical appliances away from water. A hair dryer takes time to cool down. For safety, allow this to happen on an inflammable surface before storing it.
  • Computers, monitors and TVs can overheat and cause fires even when not in use. They should be turned off after each session. Good air circulation is necessary around TVs and videos. TVs should be turned off at the set, not only with the remote control.
  • Light globes can become very hot. It is dangerous to cover a lamp with any type of fabric. To dim a lamp it is recommended that a lower wattage globe is used. (Source:Fire and Rescue, NSW)




HEATERS


It’s nice to keep yourself warm in the cooler weather, but remember heaters are a major cause of house fires

  • Read and follow the operating instructions for your heater.
  • All clothes and curtains should be at least one metre from the heater.
  • Turn off all heaters before you leave your room or go to bed.
  • Before you go to bed at night or leave your home, ensure heaters are turned off at their power source and fires are extinguished.




CANDLES, OIL BURNERS AND CIGARETTES


Candles, oil burners and cigarettes can all be dangerous fire hazards.

  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • Dampen cigarette butts before putting them in the rubbish.
  • Make sure your candles are on properly designed candle holders.
  • Don’t leave your room when a candle or oil burner is alight.
  • Don’t go to sleep when a candle or oil burner is alight.
  • Do not put candles or oil burners near windows; be careful, curtains can catch fire easily.




COOKING


Most house fires start in the kitchen.

  • Prepare food only in the kitchen.

  • Always stay in the kitchen while food is cooking.

  • Hot oils and fats catch fire easily.

  • DO NOT use water to put out an oil fire.

  • Use a dry powder extinguisher, fire blanket or saucepan lid to extinguish,

  • “If Safe To Do So”.

  • Turn off the cooking appliance before you leave the room or go to bed.




PLAN YOUR ESCAPE


In a Fire:

  1. Get down on the floor. Crawl to the door.
  2. Get out of your room.
  3. Close the door. This prevents smoke and fire from spreading
  4. Alert others.
  5. When outside stay out.
  6. Call 000

(Source: Fire and Rescue, NSW)





SUN SAFETY

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. In fact, one in every two Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point during their lifetime. The good news is, it can be prevented.  By minimising your exposure to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet radiation (UVR), you can protect your skin and prevent the development of skin cancer.

OVERCOMING CULTURE SHOCK


Once you realise you have culture shock, getting over it and moving on to better adjustment with the host culture will depend on you. It is you who must take some positive steps to feel better, and the sooner you take them, the better!

  1. Recognition: First, you should remember that culture shock is a normal part of your adjustment and that you may have some of the symptoms. Some of your reactions may not be normal for you; you may be more emotional or more sensitive, or lose your sense of humour. Recognising your culture shock symptoms will help you learn about yourself as you work your way through it.
  2. Be objective: Second, try to analyse objectively the differences you are finding between your home and your host country. Look for the reasons your host country does things differently. Remember that host customs and norms are (mostly) logical to them, just as your customs and norms at home are logical to you!
  3. Set goals: Third, set some goals for yourself to redevelop your feeling of control in your life. These should be small tasks that you can accomplish each day. For example, if you do not feel like leaving your room, plan a short activity each day that will get you out. Go to a post office or store to buy something, ride a bus or go to a sports event. If you feel that language is your problem, set daily goals to learn more: study fifteen minutes a day; learn five new words a day; learn one new expression each day; watch a TV program in your new language for 30 minutes. Each goal that you achieve will give you more and more self-confidence that you can cope.
  4. Share your feelings: Fourth, find local friends who are sympathetic and understanding. Talk to them about your feelings and specific situations. They can help you understand ideas from their cultural point of view.

(Source: Rotary International Youth Exchange)





BEACH SAFETY

Understanding the ocean is very important – the more you know about how waves, wind and tides affect conditions in the water, the better able you are to keep yourself safe, or even rescue others, from danger. Recognising danger signs and awareness of surf conditions is an essential part of lifesaving.

DURING A STORM


There are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • Unplug sensitive electrical devices like computers, televisions and video recorders.
  • Listen to your radio for weather updates.
  • Don’t use a landline telephone during an electrical storm (Source: NSW SES)




IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE DURING A STORM


  • Get inside a vehicle or building if possible.
  • If no shelter is available, crouch down, with your feet close together and head tucked in.
  • If in a group – spread out, keeping people several metres apart.
  • Don’t try to drive through flood waters.Floodwater may be deeper and faster flowing than it appears and often contains hidden dangersand debris. (Source: NSW SES Floodsafe)





BUSH & OUTBACK SAFETY

Australia has many extraordinary and beautiful places to explore. If you are going on a trip, travel with other people, make sure someone knows where you are at all times and stay on a road or a walking track.

SOCIAL CUSTOMS - GREETING PEOPLE


When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person’s right hand with your right hand. People who do not know each other generally do not kiss or hug when meeting. When you first meet someone, it is polite not to talk about personal matters.

Many Australians look at the eyes of the people they are talking with. They consider this a sign of respect, and an indication that they are listening. Do not stare at the person for a long time. You can address a new acquaintance using their title and family name. You may use their first name when they ask you to or use it in the introduction. In the workplace and among friends, most Australians tend to be informal and call each other by their first names.




CLOTHING CUSTOMS


The types of clothing that people wear reflect the diversity in our society just as much as the variation in climate. There are no laws or rules on clothing, but you must wear certain clothing for work situations. Most workplaces have dress standards.

Outside of the work situation, clothing is an individual choice; many people dress for comfort, for the social situation or the weather. Clubs, movie theatres and other places require patrons to be in neat, clean clothes and appropriate footwear.

Many Australians live close to the beach and the sea. On hot days, they may wear little clothing on the beach and surrounds. This does not mean that people who dress to go to the beach or swimming have low moral standards. It means that this is what we accept on and near our beaches.

People from other countries can choose to wear their national dress. They may be religious or customary items and include monks’ robe, a burqa, a hijab or a turban. As a tolerant society with people from many different cultures, clothing is a part of cultural beliefs and practices that is encouraged.




POLITE BEHAVIOUR


‘Please‘ and ‘thank you’ are words that are very helpful when dealing with other people, and buying goods or services. When asked if you would like something, like a cup of tea, it is polite to say, ‘Yes please’, or just ‘please’ if you would like it, or ‘no, thank you’ if you do not. When you receive something, it is polite to thank the person by saying ‘thank you’. Australians tend to think that people who do not say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ are being rude. Using these words will help in building a good relationship.

Sometimes a sensitive issue may come up in conversation. Not to talk may seem rude. It is politer to say ‘sorry, it is too hard to explain’ then to ignore a question.

Australians often say, ‘Excuse me’ to get a person’s attention and ‘sorry’ if we bump into them. We also say, ‘Excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’ if we burp or belch in public or a person’s home.

You should always try to be on time for meetings and other visits. If you realise you are going to be late, try to contact the person to let them know. This is very important for visits to professionals as you may be charged money for being late or if you miss the appointment without notifying them before the appointment time.

Most Australians blow their noses into a handkerchief or tissue, not onto the footpath. This is also true for spitting. Many people will also say, ‘Bless you’ when you sneeze. This phrase has no religious intent.

For more information about Australia visit: https://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/facts-and-figures




AUSTRALIAN SLANG


Much common word usage or ‘slang’ may seem strange to people new to Australia. Slang words start from many different sources. Some words are shortened versions of longer words. Many were expressions already used by migrants who came from the north of England. If you are unsure what an expression means, it is all right to ask the person who said it to explain. Some common expressions are:

  • Bring a plate –when you are invited to a party and asked to ‘bring a plate’, this means to bring a dish of food to share with your host and other guests. Take the food to the party in any type of dish, not just a plate, and it is usually ready to serve. This is common for communal gatherings such as for school, work or a club. If you are unsure what to bring, you can ask the host.

​​

  • BYO –when an invitation to a party says ‘BYO’, this means ‘bring your own’ drink. If you do not drink alcohol, it is acceptable to bring juice, soft drink or soda, or water. Some restaurants are BYO. You can bring your own wine to these, although there is usually a charge for providing and cleaning glasses called ‘corkage’.

​​

  • Arvo –This is short for afternoon. ‘Drop by this arvo,’ means please come and visit this afternoon.

​​

  • Fortnight –This term describes a period of two weeks.​

​​

  • Barbeque, BBQ, barbie –outdoor cooking, usually of meat or seafood over a grill or hotplate using gas or coals. The host serves the meat with salads and bread rolls. It is common for a guest, when invited to a BBQ, to ask if they should bring anything.

​​

  • Snag –The raw type sausages usually cooked at a BBQ. They can be made of pork, beef or chicken.

​​

  • Chook –The term chook means a chicken, usually a hen.

​​

  • Cuppa –a cup of tea or coffee ‘Drop by this arvo for a cuppa’ means please come and visit this afternoon for a cup of tea or coffee.

​​

  • Loo or dunny –These are slang terms for toilet. If you are a guest in someone’s house for the first time, it is usually polite to ask permission to use his or her toilet. ‘May I use your toilet please?’ Some people ask, ‘Where’s the loo?’

​​

  • Fair dinkum –honest, the truth. ‘Fair dinkum?’ when used as a question means, ‘is it really true?’

​​

  • To be crook –to be sick or ill.

​​

  • Flat out –busy

​​

  • Shout –to buy someone a drink. At a bar or a pub when a group of friends meet, it is usual for each person to ‘shout a round’, meaning buy everybody a drink. Each person takes a turn at buying a ’round’. It is also acceptable to say that you do not drink (alcohol). This also means you are not obliged to shout.

​​

  • Bloke –a man. Sometimes if you ask for help, you may get an answer to ‘see that bloke over there’.

​​

  • How ya goin?‘How are you going?’ means how are you, or how do you do? It does not mean what form of transport you are taking. Sometimes it can sound like ‘ow-ya-goin-mate’.

​​

For more information on Australian slang visit: www.studyinaustralia.gov.au




RESPONDING TO AN INVITATION


  • What could I be invited to? If you get an invitation to lunch, dinner, barbeque, party, wedding, birthday, or any type of event you will usually respond with a letter or phone call. The midday meal is called lunch, and the evening meal is called dinner or ‘tea’. ‘Tea’ can also mean a cup of tea or ‘cuppa’. If invited for tea, the time of the event is a good sign of whether your host means dinner or just a cup of tea. An invitation to tea, for anytime after 6pm (1800 hours) usually means dinner.

  • How are invitations made?Invitations can be written or spoken. Written ones usually ask for RSVP, (which isrespondez s’il vous plaitin French) and means please reply. You should reply whether you intend to go or not. The invitation will tell you how to reply and when the reply is expected. Your host may be specific about how many people are invited. If your host invites the whole family, you should tell your host how many people would go. Usually a family is the parents and their children.

​​

  • What if I do accept an invitation?When you accept an invitation to a meal, it is also usual to tell the host what you cannot eat. It is perfectly okay to say that you are a vegetarian and do not eat meat or that you are Muslim or Jewish and do not eat pork.It is not polite to arrive lateand you should make a telephone call to your host to explain if you are going to be late.

​​

  • What if I cannot accept an invitation? You may not always be able to accept an invitation. The best way to refuse is to say, ‘thank you, unfortunately I/we have other plans at that time’. To say that you are too busy may seem extremely rude, even if it is true. Once you accept an invitation, you should only cancel if something arises where you cannot go. You should also explain the reason to your host. To cancel because you got a better invitation from somewhere else can seem very rude, and can affect new friendships. Sometimes it is best not to accept an invitation right away and to ask your host whether they would mind if you check your plans and reply to them later.




TIPPING


Tipping is not generally expected or practiced in Australia. This is because throughout Australia, service industry staff are covered by minimum wage laws and therefore do not rely on tips for their income. However, it is acceptable to leave a small amount (perhaps 10%) should you feel you have received exceptional service.





STORM SAFETY

Storms can happen anywhere and at any time of the year. Storms are more common during storm season – from October to the end of April, but it is important to be aware all year round. Severe storms can cause major damage. They may be accompanied by torrential rain, strong winds, large hailstones, loud thunder and lightning. Storms can cause flash flooding, un-roof buildings, and damage trees and powerlines. You can also be indirectly affected by storms even if your property is not damaged; such as losing power, or access roads being cut. The SES is responsible for managing the clean-up and helping people during and after a storm. For emergency assistance in floods and storms, call the NSW SES on 132 500

DURING A STORM


There are some things you can do to stay safe:

  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • Unplug sensitive electrical devices like computers, televisions and video recorders.
  • Listen to your radio for weather updates.
  • Don’t use a landline telephone during an electrical storm (Source: NSW SES)




IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE DURING A STORM


  • Get inside a vehicle or building if possible.
  • If no shelter is available, crouch down, with your feet close together and head tucked in.
  • If in a group – spread out, keeping people several metres apart.
  • Don’t try to drive through flood waters.Floodwater may be deeper and faster flowing than it appears and often contains hidden dangersand debris. (Source: NSW SES Floodsafe)





DANGEROUS ANIMALS & PLANTS

Australia is home to a variety of native animals. Even if they seem friendly to you, do not touch or feed them – they are not used to close contact with humans and may hurt you. If you are visiting any of Australia’s beautiful parks or forests.

ANIMALS IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT


Be wary of animals in their natural habitat. Stay well back from goannas, crocodiles, snakes, dingoes, cassowaries, and also wild pigs, cattle, horses and buffaloes. People have been seriously injured or killed by wild animals. Be very careful about approaching any injured animal, such as kangaroos or possums. They are likely to bite and scratch if you attempt to touch or move them.




NEVER FEED OR PLAY WITH WILDLIFE


Never feed or play with wildlife. Native animals are by nature timid; however, having been provided food from people, may become aggressive in pursuit of food. You may get bitten or scratched. In addition, human foods may be harmful to native animals.




TROPICAL QUEENSLAND


In the warm waters of Tropical Queensland:

  • Take care to avoid marine stingers.
  • Do not enter water where crocodiles may live.




BITES AND STINGS


The majority of insects in Australia are not harmful to humans. Some insects bite and sting if they are threatened so it is best to avoid touching them if you want to avoid being stung or bitten. The Australia-wide Poisons Information Centre’s have a common telephone number: 131 126. Some people are allergic to certain insect bites or venom. In the case of an allergic reaction to bites or stings, medical attention should be sought immediately. Call a doctor or hospital for guidance, or 000.




ANAPHYLAXIS - ALLERGIC REACTIONS


Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can occur in sensitive individuals from exposure to any chemicals foreign to the body, including bites and stings, plants, or medications. Parts of the body, for example the face or throat swell up so much that the patient can’t breathe. In severe cases the patient may go into shock within a few minutes and the heart can stop. For any patient who shows signs of anaphylaxis, call 000 for an ambulance, and have the patient taken immediately to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.




GENERAL FIRST AID FOR BITES AND STINGS


For bites or stings from these creatures seek first aid assistance straight away, stay calm, and as immobile as possible.

  • all species of Australian snakes, including sea snakes
  • funnel web spiders
  • blue ringed octopus
  • cone shell stings


For all other bites and stings:

  • Seek or apply basic first aid.
  • Wash with soap and water and apply an antiseptic if available
  • Ensure that the patient’s tetanus vaccination is up to date
  • Apply an ice-pack to reduce local pain and swelling
  • Pain relief may be required e.g. paracetamol or an antihistamine (to reduce swelling, redness and itch)
  • The patient should seek medical advice if they develop any other symptoms or signs of infection.
  • Poisons Info





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