Australian Dream

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For the film, see Australian Dream (film).

The Australian Dream or Great Australian Dream is a belief that in Australia, home ownership can lead to a better life and is an expression of success and security. Although this standard of living is enjoyed by many in the existing Australian population, rising house prices compared to average wages are making it increasingly difficult for many to achieve the "great Australian Dream", especially for those living in large cities[citation needed]. It is also noted as having led to urbanisation (or more specifically suburbanisation), causing extensive urban sprawl in the major cities.[1] The term itself is derived from the American Dream, which first described the same phenomenon in the United States, starting in the 1940s. In most situations, the Australian Dream or Great Australian Dream is merely pushed by Real Estate agents, or mortgage vendors in order to turn a profit, however the realisation is that it will never be economically viable to obtain such a 'quarter acre under the sky' place due to the fact that as more people take up large-area residences, it will never have the population density to make it viable for mass transit solutions to exist, leading to Urban Sprawl and all of its problems.

It is also debatable if the same perpetuated idea contributed to the Australian property bubble which had a massive effect on many building societies and private owners.

History[edit]

The origin of the Australian Dream dates back to the period of reconstruction following World War II. The dream flowered in the 1950s and 1960s due chiefly to the expansion of Australian manufacturing, low unemployment rates, the baby boom and the removal of rent controls.[2]

There is some evidence, however, that the vast open spaces of early colonial Australia first instilled the notion in the early generations of Australian families. It was certainly aided by the widespread ownership of the automobile. Even as it was growing, the aspirational dream became an occasional object of ridicule in art and literature, some of the strongest criticism appearing in the mid-1950s paintings of John Brack, the celebrated novels of Australian manners They're a Weird Mob (1957) by Nino Culotta (John O'Grady) and My Brother Jack (1964) by George Johnston, and Robin Boyd's fierce critique of Australian architecture The Australian Ugliness (1960).

Typically the Australian Dream focused upon ownership of a detached house (often single storey) on a quarter acre suburban block, surrounded by a garden, which featured in the back a Hills Hoist and a barbecue. Notably, this mirrored the fact that while almost 50% of Australian households owned their homes through the first half of the century, the proportion jumped to more than 70 per cent in the 20 years after World War II. While many Australians saw home ownership as a domestic ideal to aspire to, artists sometimes viewed it as representing a deadening conformism and narrow-mindedness—a critical perspective advanced by Brack's bleak images of uniform box-like houses surrounded by almost identical gardens, as well as Johnston's literary depiction of a rigidly uniform suburbia where neighbours try to police one another's behaviour.

If financial independence and the possession of a house were important, the Australian Dream was chiefly identified with embracing a particular lifestyle. Those who had achieved the dream also followed a set of urban rituals, including taking an annual summer holiday by the ocean, living within a nuclear family, as well as—for male bread-winners—weekly lawn-mowing (preferably with a Victa lawn mower) and washing the family car (either a Ford or a Holden) on Saturday mornings. These unspoken yet rigid social customs were actually the focus for the comic novel They're a Weird Mob, a simulated autobiography by a fictitious Italian migrant who struggled to understand the often baffling ways of urban Australians. The novel is resolved when the protagonist adopts the same values by marrying an Australian girl, buying his own quarter acre block, and building his home on it. From the 1970s, the Australian dream expanded to cover possession of a swimming pool in the back-yard, a second family car, and, for the affluent, either ownership of a beach-house or taking an annual overseas holiday.

Despite the decline of the Australian Dream due to modern planning policies, house prices and the influence of immigration on demographics and culture, many observers still consider ownership of a dwelling as important to many Australians even if they cannot achieve it.[citation needed]

Homes - not just another commodity[edit]

The importance of equitable access to housing (rent or buy), in the terms of having the broader economy function in an optimal fashion, cannot be underestimated.

As noted in the conclusion to Chapter 2 – ‘Social aspects of home ownership’ (‘A good house is hard to find’ report):

"2.8 The Productivity Commission concluded that: Access to affordable and quality housing is central to community wellbeing.
Apart from meeting the basic need for shelter, it provides a foundation for family and social stability, and contributes to improved health and educational outcomes and a productive workforce.
Thus it enhances both economic performance and 'social capital'. (Productivity Commission (2004, p. 3).)

2.52 Given its importance in promoting and maintaining a functional, stable and just society, housing should not be considered just another commodity. Many of the social benefits we see flowing from home ownership – such as security, connection to community and control over one's lived environment – can also be conferred through more secure tenancy models. . . " [3]

In popular culture[edit]

The Australian Dream has been expressed in many mainstream movies, poems and books.

Television shows that depict suburban life and the Australian Dream include:

See also[edit]

Australian economy:

References[edit]

External links[edit]