Surprise figures mark our national identity: Commbank

COMMBANK has today released a report delving into the traits, values and characteristics important to Australians in 2015, as part of its longstanding support of the Australian of the Year Awards.

The report finds Gen Ys are more at more odds with traditional, stereotypical representations of national identity than the older generations. The findings have influenced a major new initiative to document the many faces that make up our nation, uncovered by young Australians.

Gen Y most conflicted

One in three Aussies (33 per cent) feel our national identity is changing and almost two in five (37 per cent) feel confused about what Australia's national identity is. Gen Ys (aged 18 to 34) are most likely to feel uncertain or disconnected from the national identity.


Two in five Gen Ys (42 per cent) say they're unsure about exactly what our nation represents, higher compared to the older generations - 33 per cent for Baby Boomers (aged 45 to 64) and 30 per cent for the Grey Generation(aged 65 and over).

Over a quarter of Gen Ys (27 per cent) say they often find themselves feeling a need to choose between their family heritage and their views of the Australian national identity, and 14 per cent feel their family heritage doesn't fit with their view of the national identity. This is compared with just 5 per cent for the Grey Generation.

Is the age of celebrity over? 

The report also found 96 per cent of Australians believe there should be more recognition given to the grassroots people that make up the fabric of our national identity. 91 per cent said they aspire to be more like everyday Australians than high profile Australians, such as celebrities, politicians and professional sportspeople.


Contrary to popular belief, Gen Ys identify most strongly with everyday, grassroots Australians (90 per cent) over high profile people; 86 per cent say they're proudest of the achievements of everyday Aussies; and 92 per cent say there's not enough in the media about everyday people like them.

A national portrait of everyday Aussies

These findings have informed a major new initiative by CommBank to champion grassroots Australians - their daily lives, achievements and challenges - all seen from the perspective of young Australians. It's called Australian of the Day.

CommBank has partnered with eight young photographers - one from each state and territory - to travel their respective state, unearthing stories and documenting people from all walks of life.

Whether it's the mad movie fan who moved thousands of kilometers to set up the world's only Mad Max Museum in Broken Hill; the taxi driver in Darwin who uses his cab to deliver home-cooked food to those less fortunate; the nation's only selfdescribed Celtic Aboriginal who runs strongman events in Glen Innes; or the woman who can't bear to see a homeless dog, so lives with 200 of them!


From 15 June 2015 until 26 January 2016 (Australia Day) a new photo and story will be posted every day at Throughout the coming months, anyone can nominate a deserving Aussie to be photographed on the Australian of the Day site.

Australian of the Day will become Australia's greatest national portrait, documented by Gen Y and celebrating the everyday Australians who made our country extraordinary in 2015.

Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year 2015, says it's important to recognise Australians' contributions great and small.

"Since my name was called as the Australian of the Year I have been fortunate enough to travel the country and meet people from all walks of life. Our country is made up of some amazing people, not just those we see on TV or in the news. It's these everyday people who make our country extraordinary and I'm happy that some of them will be recognised as part of this initiative," she said.

Ian Narev, Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Bank, says CommBank's 36 year association with the Australian of the Year Awards inspired it to seek out the unsung heroes making a difference to their local community.

"Every year we celebrate the achievements of some extraordinary Australians through our sponsorship of the Australian of the Year Awards. Additionally, as the bank with the largest local branch network, CommBank people are meeting outstanding Australians every day.

"So this year, as well as recognising the Australians of the Year, we want to shine a light on some of the everyday people who, in their own way, are making Australia extraordinary," he said.

Our national identity - how as it changed?

72 per cent of Aussies agree our identity is constantly evolving and has shifted over the last decade.

The number one change identified by 75 per cent of Aussies is that social and cultural diversity has become a bigger part of our national identity. Also:

  • Indigenous Australia has become a more prominent part of the identity (according to 39 per cent);
  • The ANZAC spirit has become more prominent (according to 38 per cent);
  • Sporting success has become more prominent (according to 32 per cent); and
  • The prominence of the Australian flag and Southern Cross has become a less important part of the
  • national identity (22 per cent).

Our traits and values

The report also uncovered differences in Australians' perceptions of who we are versus who we'd like to be. For example, 'social awareness and being kind to others' ranked seventh of 12 traits that we feel particularly characterises the nation right now.

Yet it came in at number two as the one trait Aussies wished defined us
following 'a sense of humour'.

The values that Australians most admire in others include:

  • A willingness to rally together in tough times (45 per cent);
  • A willingness to laugh at ourselves / have a laugh (40 per cent);
  • A willingness to work hard / put in the hard yards (37 per cent);
  • Acceptance of other cultures (31 per cent); and
  • A belief in a fair go (29 per cent).

The actions that define our nation

When identifying the actions that define us as a nation, two in three (66 per cent) said that offering directions when someone is looking lost is the most typical Aussie action. Other actions that Aussies think define our nation

  • Checking to see if someone's okay when they trip over (56 per cent);
  • Shouting someone a coffee if they've forgotten their wallet (40 per cent);
  • Giving up a bus seat for someone in need (38 per cent);
  • Running after someone when they forget to take their change (26 per cent); and
  • Working for a charity (16 per cent).

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