Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Community

The ANU College of Law
Australia’s National Law School

Is Canberra a Strict Class Stratified or Caste Society?

By aussielyn - 16 September 2012 36

Whilst watching the Raiders Vs Canberra and listening to the ABC radio there was an interesting comment from Warren Ryan. He stated that during the warm up that the forwards and backs did it separately as it reflected the class society of Canberra. Wozza is a very astute RL commentator and this I found intriguing being an amateur historian.

In researching ‘Homes for the Workers, the History of the Narrabundah Prefabs” historian Ann Guglar said to me that there was the inherent public service lower public service areas like Ainslie and areas for tradesman like the camps and the prefabs. There was always this divide between the public sector and private sector as both despise & distrust each other. Segregation was in place.

Many RiotACT flamers like to have a go at Narrabundah & Charnwood residents as they are seen as low life public tenant suburbs. Tradies, retail & hospitality workers are vilified because of the low standards of service they provide. As a low level temp in the public service I provided good support to top level SES people, who were sometimes appreciate, but was treated with contempt by the middle levels.

Do people think Canberra is a more class-stratified society than the rest of Australia? Is there a lord and serf mentality?

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
36 Responses to
Is Canberra a Strict Class Stratified or Caste Society?
p1 11:00 am 17 Sep 12

DrKoresh said :

kakosi said :

I still get asked “where do you come from?” on a regular basis.

I can’t comment with the same perspective, because although I’m only first generation on my mother’s side I’m still a whitey and as such don’t face the prejudices that non-anglos do…..

Ummm, I’m pretty white and my family has been in Aust for few generations. But if I ask someone where they are from (unless they have an obvious accent) I am not suggesting anything about their recent immigration status.

For example ( an on topic) I always ask grads (Translation: new APS employees each year in the Graduate Program) where they are from. This isn’t because I am making assumptions based on (our current grads) obvious asian genetics, but because about 90% of grads move to Canberra for the job.

DrKoresh 10:43 am 17 Sep 12

kakosi said :

I still get asked “where do you come from?” on a regular basis.

I can’t comment with the same perspective, because although I’m only first generation on my mother’s side I’m still a whitey and as such don’t face the prejudices that non-anglos do. However, asking where you come doesn’t strike me as out and out racism. It might be insensitive, but I don’t think it’s wrong to be curious about another person’s heritage. I think you can safely assume that most of the time they mean “Where did your family emigrate from then?” when they ask that question and not that they think you just stepped off the boat.

Is it wrong to be curious about other folks’ heritage? 😮

jase! 10:23 am 17 Sep 12

farnarkler said :

I think there is a definite class structure here. From friends experience, a lot of women in the APS won’t date tradesmen and they won’t date a bloke in the APS who’s a lower level than them. Perhaps that’s too much a ‘micro-view’ of Canberra.

funny you should mention that. when i first came to canberra in 05 as a single lad I was shocked that the first question out of most lasses mouth at the pub was “what level are you” considering i didn’t work in the APS it meant i could have some fun. If i didn’t like the girl i’d say APS3 and she would then run away. If I was bored i could go Band 1 (at the age of 30 it would be a fair effort) and see how long it took her to twig.

I rarely answered honestly as i thought the question was bloody obnoxious and was a very slightly veiled way of asking how much money you were on and might you be able to help my career

p1 10:11 am 17 Sep 12

devils_advocate said :

In summary, anyone who thinks that being X level in the public service somehow bestows upon them some kind of social status, is someone who, by definition, you don’t want in your social circle.

The sad cry for relevance and respect you speak of is not a public service thing alone. I recall several of my friends (who did trades) in their mid twenties being very touchy about “people who don’t do really work” and seeming to wan’t respect ’cause they did four or so years of training at slave wages to get where they were (while refusing to see people who did four years at Uni to get a job as being essentially the same). Most people seem to get past this attitude pretty quickly, and get on with life.

On the “APS chicks who won’t date tradies” comments, this seems to be at odds with my experience. I would say that a disproportionately high number *do* date tradies. Although, considering so of the wanker who work here I understand it.

I sometime am interested in what level someone is (if they are an pubic servant), but that is simply because that is how you tell how a person is doing in their career. If someone tells me they are an EL1 or APS6 I immediately have a pretty good idea of their career progression and what they make. Rank in the defence or police forces or emergency services is the same. Much harder to do with someone in the private sector unless you have a good knowledge of the specific industry in question.

If somene told me they managed a Woolies store for example, it would give me an idea of their career progression – but only a loose idea. I have no idea how easy or hard that job it to get to. I certainly have no idea how much it pays.

/rant

TL:DR – while it might appear people are fixated on “level”, I think it is just pubic servants speaking the language they speak.

Mysteryman 10:01 am 17 Sep 12

devils_advocate said :

The only wankers who focus on an APS-based ‘class structure’ are those who are in that class structure themselves, often with an inflated sense of self-importance or a nagging realisation that what they do is really quite irrelevant outside a very narrowly defined sub-section of society. Probably this is a defence mechanism against the fact that everyone outside that class structure treats their petty ‘hierarchy’ with indifference at best, and contempt at worst (usually middling out somewhere around detached amusement).

In summary, anyone who thinks that being X level in the public service somehow bestows upon them some kind of social status, is someone who, by definition, you don’t want in your social circle.

Couldn’t agree more. Thread over.

devils_advocate 9:21 am 17 Sep 12

The only wankers who focus on an APS-based ‘class structure’ are those who are in that class structure themselves, often with an inflated sense of self-importance or a nagging realisation that what they do is really quite irrelevant outside a very narrowly defined sub-section of society. Probably this is a defence mechanism against the fact that everyone outside that class structure treats their petty ‘hierarchy’ with indifference at best, and contempt at worst (usually middling out somewhere around detached amusement).

In summary, anyone who thinks that being X level in the public service somehow bestows upon them some kind of social status, is someone who, by definition, you don’t want in your social circle.

milkman 7:24 am 17 Sep 12

There is, to a degree. Within the public service there’s a big ‘what level are you’ mentality, probably because it’s so structured.

People here look down on tradies on retail because they often provide actually crap service.

In the professional private sector, most people don’t care any near as much (except in places like large law and accounting firms).

Is it worse than anywhere else? No. And we still have the option of coming fro a poor background and hauling ourselves up by the bootstraps, so to speak. Also, attending a top private school here is no guarantee of success – I know plenty of people who attended high end schools who have done pretty much ntohing since leaving (almost 20 years ago for peoplpe my age).

trevar 7:23 am 17 Sep 12

There may be a lord and serf mentality, but I think both sides of it believe themselves to be lords, which means that our serfs don’t seem to want to do their jobs!

kakosi 11:38 pm 16 Sep 12

Absolutely, I grew up in one of those fibro “workers” houses in Narrabundah. The more wealthy anglo-Australians lived across a main road in what they called “Narrabundah heights”, Griffith and Red Hill.

To make things worse we were “new Australians” so not only were we looked down upon for being the family of a miner but also for being not quite Australian enough.

Going to private schools and becoming economically middle-class hasn’t helped with the attitude of many people I meet at work and in the community. I still get asked “where do you come from?” on a regular basis.

farnarkler 8:57 pm 16 Sep 12

I think there is a definite class structure here. From friends experience, a lot of women in the APS won’t date tradesmen and they won’t date a bloke in the APS who’s a lower level than them. Perhaps that’s too much a ‘micro-view’ of Canberra.

MartianMick 8:56 pm 16 Sep 12

Hi. No. I am in the public service and I’m an economic refugee from Victoria and I am poor. I think maybe this was once the case as a lot of old public servants are very rich a posh. The young ones are certainly poor and a lot poorer than tradies.

Thanks

cranky 8:49 pm 16 Sep 12

You were classified in the late 50’s – 60’s by the hostel you lived in.

Duffbowl 8:39 pm 16 Sep 12

Do I think Canberra is a more class-stratified society than the rest of Australia?
No, not really. I grew up in a less-than-reputable area in Adelaide, and it still has an impact on some folk from South Aus when I mention it.

Is there a lord and serf mentality?
In Canberra? Absolutely. I think a fair few APS staff take home the “what level are you?” mentality.

Masquara 8:39 pm 16 Sep 12

Hardly. There is public housing in Forrest.

WillowJim 6:01 pm 16 Sep 12

Still trying to figure out the rugby league segue.

1 2 3

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site