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Young Australians highly respectful of other cultures
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Young Australians highly respectful of other cultures

Media release 5 minute read

Australian teenagers report greater levels of respect for people from other cultures than the OECD average, according to a report released today by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

In a nationally representative survey of Australian 15-year-olds, 87 per cent said they ‘treat all people with respect regardless of their cultural background’ and 85 per cent said they ‘respect the values of people from different cultures’, compared to the OECD average of 81 per cent and 79 per cent respectively.

ACER’s report analyses data from the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) global competence questionnaire, released by the OECD in October 2020. The questionnaire measured the knowledge, attitudes, values and skills deemed necessary to live in an interconnected, diverse and rapidly changing world.

Releasing the report, ACER Deputy CEO (Research) Dr Sue Thomson said, “In a world in which humans need to join forces to address significant challenges, it is ever more important for young people to be able to build bridges with those different to themselves.”

“While Australian students are better equipped to thrive in an interconnected world in comparison to their peers across OECD countries, there is always room for improvement,” Dr Thomson said.

Australian girls reported greater respect for people from other cultures than did boys. Ninety per cent of Australian girls reported they ‘value the opinions of people from different cultures’ compared to 77 per cent of Australian boys.

Respect for people from other cultures was above the OECD average in all Australian states and territories except for Tasmania, where it was similar to the OECD average.

Dr Thomson said the demographic make-up of the population is highly likely to be a factor that influences global competence among students. The 2016 census shows Tasmania has the lowest proportion of the population born overseas, at 13 per cent, compared to between 23 per cent and 35 per cent in the other states and territories.

ACER’s report on the PISA 2018 global competence questionnaire also reveals:

  • Australian students reported more positive attitudes towards immigrants than students across the OECD on average.
  • 77 per cent of Australian students and 78 per cent of students across the OECD on average believe ‘looking after the global environment is important to me’.
  • A lower proportion of Australian students than students from across OECD countries reported taking action on global issues, such as by reducing energy use at home, buying products for ethical reasons or supporting environmental protection.
  • Just 36 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds learn a language at school, compared to 88 per cent across the OECD on average.

Sixty-six countries, including Australia, participated in the PISA 2018 global competence questionnaire. Australia’s participation was managed by ACER and conducted with funding from the Australian and state and territory governments.

PISA 2018: Australian 15-year-old students living in an integrated world by Lisa De Bortoli, Catherine Underwood and Sarah Richardson (ACER, 2021) is available from


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ACER Communications
+61 419 340 058

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