Advance Australia

Reporter: David Richardson

"It's the country itself that's produced the kind of person that we are and that's a resilient person, a generous person, and it's a person who has no problem giving anybody else a fair go" says Angry Anderson.

"I think we have a terrific sense of identity. I think we have a very good self esteem. I think we're confident people and I don't think we're plagued with doubts" says Ita Buttrose. "We have been a nation of sports lovers, we have been a nation of beer drinkers, we have been a nation of larrikins" adds Austen Tayshus. Just what is it to be an Australian in 2007? What is our national identity and how has it changed?

"It's no longer football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. We've grown to become a very diverse nation. I think we have also matured into one of the most successful multi cultural countries in the world" says Rhonda Craven. For the first time since settlement, all Australians are being asked to describe our national identity. It's the first survey of it's kind, three years in the making.

"What we want to do is establish a more up to date and accurate picture of what it really means to be an Australian today." Professor Rhonda Craven from the University of Western Sydney is behind the survey into our national identity.

"I think we also have to remember that this is not just about flapping flags and coming up with new stereotypes. Because defining who we are, our identity is fundamental to things like social cohesion, political and economic policy what we want to set to do in the future."

"We are very successful at diversity - were a mongrel, were a hybrid, were not pure breds, thats not our identity - were evolving - were one of the worlds classiest liberal democracies, yet most of our sense of identity - yet I'm all for waiting and seeing" says Hugh Mackay.

In his latest book, Advance Australia Where? Australia's best recognised social researcher, Hugh Mackay says our notion of national identity is forever changing but some changes haven't been for the best, especially the use of the word "un-Australian". "One of the ugliest words in the language - its a very scary development that some people pollies, commentators, people in their own backyards are using this word as if they've got the formula, they've got the code" adds Hugh.

There's no doubt certain traditions have been key to forging our identity here and overseas. Gallipoli, Kokoda, the ANZAC legends forged in the cauldrons of war. What the survey is aimed at finding is how new images of ourselves will blend with the old. Hugh Mackay's predictions highlight many of those new Aussie trends, including how we will live in the years to come.

But how close Hugh Mackay's predictions will come to how we see ourselves won't be known until the end of the year. That's when the results our the national survey will be released on how we see ourselves today. "Let's face it - Australia is better than it once was but it's not as good as it might become" says Rhonda.

Be part of re-defining Australia 's identity by completing the online survey at: http://www.aussiehaveyoursay.com/ or call 02 9772 6661

Title: Advance Australia ... Where?
Author: Hugh Mackay
Publisher: Hachette Livre
Price: RRP $35.00
URL: http://www.hha.com.au/books/9780733622199.html