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G’day Mate: Communication tips for working in Australia

Posted: 7/12/2011 5:00:00 AM by Mining Oil and Gas Jobs
Filed under: Australian-Life

If you’re moving to Australia to start a new career, learning how to communicate with the natives can be useful. Australians tend to be informal in their speech and can be quite chatty. Be aware, this informal style is thought to increase productivity and the expectation is everyone still works hard.

Australians speak to each other in a straightforward way. It’s not unusual for employees to have casual conversations with managers. We tend not to have formal protocols and speak to co-workers and managers in a very direct and literal style. To someone new to the culture, we can seem blunt or even disrespectful. Don’t be alarmed, that’s not the case.

Australian slang

Even if you’re from an English-speaking country, Australian slang can be a challenge. The Australians love to shorten words. To a new arrival, it can seem like everyone is talking in shorthand. Common examples of Australian slang include:
  • G’day – Good day
  • Mate - friend
  • Sanger – sandwich
  • Servo – petrol station
  • Roo – kangaroo
  • Good onya – good on you (meaning a job well done)
  • Crook – sick or broken
  • Rug up – put on a warm clothes
  • Footy – Australian rules football
  • Oz – Australia
  • Aussies – People who live in Australia

Visit the online dictionary called Australian slang for more examples.


Australians dispense with titles regardless of age or position and usually address people by their first name. Don’t be surprised if your name is shortened, especially if it’s long or difficult for Australians to pronounce. You should not be offended. Australians view nicknames with affectionate and assign them to both males and females.
  • Adding an ‘azza’ onto the end of the first syllable of your name
          John - Jazza
          Sharon - Shazza
  • Adding a ‘o’ to the end of your name
  • Using your last name in place of your first name


Australians like nothing more than to ‘have a laugh’. They often tell stories about themselves doing something ridiculous. This form of self-deprecation is considered to be an attractive trait. Practical jokes are common amongst co-workers. Being able to laugh at yourself and laugh along with your colleagues is considered an attractive quality.


Mild profanity is quite common in Australia but there are some rules around it. In casual conversation with co-workers, it’s common to hear speech peppered with colourful language. It’s not acceptable in meetings or in any situation where a customer is present. It’s best to avoid using swear words altogether but don’t be offended when you hear it in the workplace.

More information

For an excellent guide on how Australians communicate, the Department of Education and Training in Western Australia has published a paper for migrants called, Employability Skills and Workplace Culture in Australia. Don’t forget to visit our Living and Working in Australia section of the Careers and Industry Guide.

What are your favourite Australian slang words?

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