In Australia, we often use the term 'fair go' to describe how we think people should be treated. Our belief in a fair go is so strong, it's grown to become a part of our national culture.
- RSPCA Australia website
Australia is an odd country. Its history as an English-speaking country is short and the beginnings hardly aristocratic. The culture is down to earth and egalitarian. Not to mention plain-spoken, to the point where they see nothing wrong with using "bloody hell" on a billboard slogan to encourage tourists.
The country is sports mad, and highly competitive in this regard1. Yet equality is a strong Australian value. People may not all have the same physical or mental gifts, not everyone ends up a millionaire or a gold medallist, but everyone deserves a chance at it. To be allowed to compete, without an unfair advantage or disadvantage. Everyone deserves fair treatment, a chance to stand up and try. A fair crack of the whip, fair suck of the sav. Not absolute equality, but a chance to prove yourself without prejudice.
A fair go is the common term for it.
This implies that access to education and health care should also be "fair". Australia has been active in peace-keeping and disaster relief in the region, and has high levels of charitable giving2. But "fair go" implies that capitalistic competition is also fine.
"A fair go" is a core Australian value 3. It is deeply ingrained, even if it has taken a while to extend it to Aboriginal Australians and prospective immigrants who are poor and not European. This has changed to a large extent.
'I was born over there in Treacle Street, Bludgeree, and so was my dad. And my granddad. And his dad. I didn't just step off the driftwood like some people I might mention.' His ratty little face darkened. 'Coming over here, taking our jobs . . . What about the little man, eh? All I'm askin' for is a fair go.'
- Fair Go Dibbler, The Last Continent, Terry Pratchett
For other Australian values, see "mateship", Tall Poppy Syndrome and taking the piss out of everyone.
1) larger countries tend to do better at the Olympic Games since they just have more athletes. But Australia is usually far ahead when medals per head of country's population is counted. For a country of around 20 million people, it punches well above its weight. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/29/1093717836459.html
2) International comparisons of charitable giving as percentage of GDP. http://www.cafonline.org/Default.aspx?page=12183.
Australia is ranked fourth, behind the USA, UK and Canada.
3) Deborah Gough for "The Age", November 12, 2006: Australians value a 'fair go' highest.
Thanks to La Petite Mort for taking me to Australia and explaining much of this to me.