australian diaspora

Good heavens: there are 800 000 Australian citizens living abroad! That’s five percent of the population. We’re the Australian diaspora! I belong to a community! With a mailing list! And my community actually fought for me to be able to be a dual citizen (if Norway would only go along with it) without my even knowing! I’m so used to being neither this nor that that I’m a bit shocked at this sudden new identity option. But hey, “our collective identity” is being strengthened by “e-mail and internet” which “increasingly link overseas Australians to each other and to Australians at home.”

Yup. Though decreasing phone costs are at least as important. When I was a kid phoning home was so expensive we could only talk to our grandparents at Christmas time, and we hated it, absolutely hated the embarrassment of speaking for two minutes a year to people we loved and remembered and missed but whose voices we had forgotten. When I was back in Perth in 1990 it cost $1.80 (Australian; about one US dollar) a minute to ring Norway, and 18 kroner a minute for my family in Norway to ring me. Now it’s 45 øre a minute, that’s 9 Australian cents or 6 US cents. I can talk for an hour for the cost of a latte, an hour and a half for less than a glass of beer. Talking with a friend in Australia (or the States for that matter) is literally no more expensive than going out for a coffee. I like that.

09. September 2003 by Jill
Categories: Uncategorized | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. I’m so used to being neither this nor that that I’m a bit shocked at this sudden new identity option.

    That’s an interesting point. As an Irish-Australian, I think I’d find it weird if I was neither this nor that. I think a sense of community is important, and even if you are living, working and playing within a community it is gratifying to be allowed the privilege of labelling yourself as a member. “Resident” doesn’t come with the same sense of worth as “citizen”.

    On the other hand, why do we need labels to feel good about ourselves? What is the difference, really, between an Australian and a Norwegian?

  2. I think language has something to do with the neither/nor. My name marks me as instantly foreign, here, though my accent and my skin colour fit in easily enough. But once introduced the first question is almost always “So why are you in Norway?” Of course a deeper sense of identity than labels of nationality’d be best. I’ll figure it out. Eventually.

  3. Oh my. So there are just as many people living in Australia as there are in the Netherlands? (16 million that is.)

    I really like your blog by the way. 🙂

  4. Well, I guess there were a bit optimistic about the five percent: there are nearly 20 million people living in Australia. The mailing list had upped the number of Australians living abroad to 860 000 but it’s still not quite five percent, is it. Perhaps 5% of Australian citizens though.

    And it’s great that you like my blog 🙂

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