A nation is can be generally defined not merely by its geographical boundaries but also by its system of government, its people and its cultural identity and although the Aboriginal tribes have lived on the continent we now call Australia for tens of thousands of years, it was only in 1901, when the six self-governing colonies joined in a federal union to create the Commonwealth of Australia, that our nation-state was created. The colonies themselves were just over one hundred years old or less at the time.
The Commonwealth of Australia was formed under a Constitution which still exists today with only eight amendments. The Australian nation was formed under the Constitution and the people instead of being citizens of a colony, such as New South Wales, became citizens of Australia, although everyone, whatever colony they lived in at the time, were subjects of Queen Victoria.
Over the years since then, Australian Nationhood has evolved from being a Dominion of the United Kingdom to a separate, sovereign and independent nation.
As troops from the United States of America arrived in Australia in great quantities to fight in a Pacific, the US government issued Instructions for American Servicemen in which is stated “”A member of the British Commonwealth, Australia is a British dominion, a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations – but that doesn’t mean Britain owns or rules Australia. Australians govern themselves, as a separate nation, sending their own diplomatic representatives overseas and managing their own relations with foreign nations. At the same time, there are certain traditional ties with Great Britain which the Australians value.” (Instructions for American Servicemen in Australia 1942.)
It was under the Australian Constitution for which the people of Australia (or rather those people who were able to vote), agreed to unite in “one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth”. Thereafter our national emblems and cultural awareness became a part of our Australian identity.
Australian Nationhood has been assisted not just by our Constitution but also by such Acts as the Australia Act and the Statute of Westminster Act both of which can be found on this website under ‘Constitutional Documents’.
Australia continues to evolve, but it is important for all Australians to know about its past and its system of governance, why we are a constitutional monarchy and why we continue to be a federation. Although this website is being added to all the time, we trust you will find a number of interesting articles and reference points in this website.
We are developing online lessons which will be open to all, but this will take some time to be finalised.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. There is a form under ‘contact’ to enable you to do this.