Talkin' 'bout my generation

by Max
Publish date
14 July 2012
Comments (4)

Your Question: First generation Australians?

I was wondering (well I’ve been wondering for a while now)... if my parents brought my family over to Australia, who are classed as “first generation Australian”? Is it my children or both my parents and my brother, sister and I being the first generation? Thanks, Vera

Until you asked that question, I thought I was a first generation Australian because my Mum and Dad were born in Holland and I was born here. I liked being a first generation Australian, there's something 'fresh' and 'new', almost 'original' about it.

  Gin family Citizenship ceremony Vera (second on the right) and her first generation family at their citizenship ceremony in 1993
Image: Godfrey Gin
Source: Godfrey Gin

But no, now I find I've been relegated to second place by people like you and your family!

Family photo Two first and three second generation Australians. Mum and Dad with their boys.Traralgon,1963.
Source: Max Strating

That's right, if you were born overseas but now live in Australia, you are a first generation Australian. If you have children, they will become the second generation (like me). But don't just take my word for it; here is what the Australian Bureau of Statistics says on their Population characteristics: Ancestry of Australia's population webpage;

  • First generation Australians are people living in Australia who were born overseas.
  • Second generation Australians are Australian-born people living in Australia, with at least one overseas-born parent.

First generation Australians enjoying the great “Aussie” outdoors First generation Australians enjoying the great “Aussie” outdoors
Image: Godfrey Gin
Source: Godfrey Gin

So there you have it, you are one of life's winners coming first – generationally at least.

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Comments (4)

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Kate C 16 July, 2012 09:21
Dang, I've been using that term incorrectly all this time! Thanks for the clarification. I love the family snaps, too.
Emma 23 July, 2012 09:33
Young Vera! So cute! I will have to recalculate my status too...
Ellie 16 April, 2013 13:45
My parents never took out citizenship and considered themselves Dutch until the day they died. I know many Dutch-born people who simply do not consider themselves to be Australian, whereas their Australian-born children do. I came here as a child and now have dual citizenship which suits me fine. This use of 'first generation' seems to be another one of the American usages we in Australian are prone to adopt. THE CORRECT MEANING OF 'FIRST GENERATION' IS THE FIRST GENERATION BORN HERE. Those who were not born here, are/were immigrants or refugees, and in the past convicts and settlers. Simple, really, even if the Australian Bureau of Statistics (since about 2000) uses the term for people 'who were born overseas ... including Australian citizens, permanent residents and long-term temporary residents.'
Lisl 12 October, 2015 11:32
Confusing when siblings can be considered to be of different "generations"! By this interpretation I am "First Generation" and my brother a "Second"!?
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