Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Some Australian Myths

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Australia is a land of suburban families

"...Over the last 30 years couples in the households have risen from 28 to 37 percent and the ratio of couples with dependent children has dropped from 48 to 37 percent. Suburbia is becoming a demographic ghetto..."

Deirde Macken, 2009

Suburbia is changing from houses to apartments, eg in Sydney 40 percent of housing is either units or townhouses.

We are a healthy, sporty nation

It is estimated that at least 2/3 of men and over 50% of women are overweight; around 20 percent have some form of disability and 10% have a mental illness, mostly depression or anxiety; around 70 percent do little or no exercise.

We are anti-authority

Since 2001, the Federal government has passed 30 new pieces of legislation on terrorism, and each of the states and/or territories competes to be perceived as the toughest on crime.

We are a self-reliant, stoic people

Yet now welfare hand-outs extend to the middle-class and wealthy via the baby bonus, child-care payments, tax breaks for children, generous concessions on superannuation, first home payment, etc

Mateship is our mantra

The ideological centers of mateship include the unions (their membership has fallen to around 19% of workers) and the RSL (has around 200,000 members who are mostly older than 70). There has been a shift in focus to the individual as we are judged not by friendships but by material assets and conspicuous consumption.

Australians yearn for the Bush and its image

A century ago around half Australia's population lived in communities of fewer than 3,000 people, ie the bush. Today only 40 percent live in rural areas and 2/3 of the population lives in the 5 biggest cities on the coast. The sea-change and tree-change phenomena involve moving to the edge of the urban areas. Furthermore, 1 in 4 Australians are born outside Australia and 40% have parents who were born overseas.

We're laid-back workers in the land of the long weekend

The long weekend is now the annual holiday; 1/3 of full-time workers won't take holidays in 2009 and 60% won't take their full entitlement. According to OECD figures, Australian work the second longest hours in the developed world.

Not fussed by pomp and ceremony

Australia is no longer the land of the quiet achiever. Furthermore,

"...the number of people who want to retain the flag has risen from 57 to 65%; the crowds who attend Anzac Day at Gallipoli get bigger every year and tattoo parlours still report a rush every Australia Day for an etching of the flag on biceps and backs..."

Deirdre Macken, 2009

We are innovative

Being innovative is not part of the culture of Australian organisations, ie this is part of our cultural cringe. Some of the reasons for this are

- lack of incentive from government,

- lack of size of our markets hinders

- lack of funding (government, corporate, etc)

- tall poppy syndrome, ie innovators are not rewarded

Furthermore, the number are against us, ie

"to end up with 10 success stories you need 1,000 new companies"We only have 1,500 tech start-ups across all Australia"

Alan Noble as quoted by Patrick Durkin, 2013

NB The percentage of start-ups that are profitable (Rachel Nickless, 2016)
- Silicon Valley (8%)
- New York (6.6%)
- Australia (4.8%)

(sources: Deirde Macken, 2009; Patrick Durkin, 2013)


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