The Average Australian

It’s Australia Day. As an Aussie in Qatar this means that we have all gone about our business in the usual manner – it’s a work day, a school day, an everyday. Tonight G and I will have drinks with some fellow Aussies at a hotel in town – there will not be one Holden Ute in the carpark, just a plethora of dressed up bogans looking for an opportunity to eat a lamb chop with a lamington chaser.

It seems apt that I turned the final page (or swiped in our Kindle era) of Annabel Crabb’s latest piece of brilliance “The Wife Drought” on this day. My favourite Australian political commentator, and one of a group of Australian women I adore. I implore you to read it. I have quoted, discussed and rudely changed the conversation to Annabel’s words often this week.

Thanks to The Wife Drought I’ve been provided with an answer to a question  – an example of the Average Australian. In our travels I have been asked of the average Australian often. For those who have never been to Australia the questions are as genuine as they are peculiar. What do we look like? Where are we from? Where does the Average Australian live in Australia? What do we eat?

I answer appropriately. We all look like Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, we were all convicts or more to the point people who hated the weather in Britain so much we did anything to get out. We all live in the outback, which is where most of the filming for Masterchef is done, and naturally we feast mostly on Kangaroo, Emu and pavlova.

With no mention of indigenous Australians my answers are irresponsible and fickle, they come with an equal measure of frustration and humour. Obviously we’re not all white and freckled. The Average though? What does the average Australian look like?

This portrait was issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics after Census 2011.

The average Australian is a 37 year old woman. She was born in Australia, of Australian parents, and has Anglo Celtic ancestry. When at home with her husband and her two children – a boy and a girl aged nine and six – the Average Australian speaks only English. The house she lives in is located in a suburb of a capital city; it has three bedrooms, and a mortgage on which the Average Australian and her husband pay $1800 a month. They have lived in that house for more than five years, and every day the Average Australian drives in one of the family’s two cars to her job as a sales assistant, a job in which she works 32 hours a week. She has a certificate in Business and Management, but the Average Australian finds the flexible hours in retail suit her perfectly well, because she needs to juggle things with the kids.

Being a women who is currently sitting in front of her laptop, slurping her cauliflower soup at her dining room table before she heads to a meeting I can somewhat identify. I may not live in the Australian burbs but it is I who will be picking up three children at one school gate at 3 o’clock and another at a different school gate at 4 o’clock. It’s a choice I/we have made for a myriad of reasons – many of which I have given far more thought to while I’ve taken Annabel Crabb and her statistics on the treadmill with me this week.

For the average expat woman child minding and job flexibility is a completely different can of worms. Who has the work permit or visa? Are you eligible to work? Is there child care available and how do you feel about leaving your child with someone who you’re struggling to read a basic shopping list with? And how is it that this journey that you began with just one child on one year’s maternity leave has now turned into three kids, and four countries, five years ago –  “so what did you do pre kids?”.

This average Australian women (who really needs to close her laptop and run to her meeting) has an observation for her average female colleagues and friends about average expat men. The Average Expat man is missing out on flexibility, he’s been sent somewhere to do a job, he’s a worker bee, that’s what they pay him for. And while he’s missing flexibility, you’re perhaps stuck being a statistic. This is not all bad, maybe for the first time in your life you’ve been given a chance to think about what it is that you really want to do: study, create, read, consider and think about how you want the rest of your career to pan out.

Be the person you’d like to meet, the friend you’d like to make – because none of us are average.

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