I feel less Australian than other people - Kate's story of belonging

We're continuing our stories of belonging series gathered at our Big Day of Belonging event in June. This week Kate, a first-generation Australian muses on her accent and whether she is less Australian than others.

I find it frustrating that everyone thinks I’m Canadian. I don’t know whether it frustrates me because I want them to think I come from here, or whether it’s because I just get asked so much that it bothers me. And also, it frustrates me because I don’t have a good answer. I can’t say, Oh my mother’s Canadian so that’s where the accent is from. I tell people it’s just the combination of British and Australian accents.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a Heritage Leaders Workshop at SLQ and everybody was talking about their family and communities and what they were doing during the time of World War One and I realized at that moment that I didn’t have any Australian World War One stories because my parents are both from Britain and moved here in the 1970s. That was the first time I realized I perhaps don’t belong. I’m not more Australian that other people. It was a very peculiar moment for me.

Do you feel less Australian than other people?

Yes, because I don’t have that heritage that other people do. I remember going to Year One, and I remember this so distinctly, and realizing for the first time that people had parents who were born in Australia. I thought everyone’s parents were born in Britain and came over in the ‘70s. I thought that’s how all people lived because Australia was a ‘new’ country. That was the first time that ruffled my feathers.

My mum used to tell me that she got bullied because she was British. My parent’s were both bullied because they had British accents and I never understood that because everyone was British in my eyes. I just didn’t realize that Australia had a longer history beyond the arrival of my parents.

In high school I remember meeting people whose parents were maybe Greek or Italian and they still identified as Greeks and Italians within Australia but for me I’ve never thought of myself as British. I’ve just been Australian. I’ve always felt I belonged here. I’ve lived in the same house my whole life and I definitely belong there. In fact, I’m at the point in my degree, where I’m thinking I might have to move out of Brisbane to find work and things like that but I just feel like Brisbane owes me something. Brisbane’s an old friend and I feel like I’ve been here the whole time and I’ve kept giving and giving and I kind of feel like saying, Hey Brisbane, This is your time to give back to me.

Because I don’t want to leave. I love Brisbane. I identify as Australian. At the same time, I just didn’t realize people had deeper roots than me and that didn’t concern me until a couple of weeks ago.


Kirsten Fogg

Writer Out Of Residence &  Pop Up Story Catcher



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