Australia’s postwar history: Did you know?

Australia has grown up a lot since the end of the Second World War. Here’s a look at some key historical turning points from the 1950s to the modern day, to inform your next visit ‘Down Under.’


1950s: Suburban dream

The 1950s saw an economic boom in Australia of full employment and low inflation. New suburbs were developed with detached houses on large blocks near the city as Australians enjoyed the “suburban dream.”

Australia’s population swelled to 10 million on the back of postwar European immigration, including from Greece, Italy, Holland and Germany, as well as its traditional source, Britain.

Liberal Party leader Robert Menzies regained office in 1949 and ruled through to 1966, becoming Australia’s longest serving prime minister.

Major events of the decade included the British royal tour of 1954 and the arrival of television in 1956, also the year of Melbourne’s Summer Olympics. The decade was mostly peaceful too, despite Australia’s involvement in the Korean War (1950-1953) and the ongoing threat of the Cold War.

Australia-Japan ties enjoyed a renaissance, with the signing of the Australia-Japan commerce agreement in 1957 spurring a wave of bilateral trade and investment. 


1960s: Protests and prosperity

The 1960s marked a turning point with the children of the postwar era coming of age and exerting their influence. Large-scale public protests were held against conscription and the Vietnam War, together with campaigns for women’s equality and the rights of Indigenous Australians.

Culturally, Elvis Presley and the Beatles ruled the airwaves, with an estimated 300,000 people welcoming the British band to Adelaide.

In 1966, Australia welcomed then U.S. President Lyndon Johnston, the first visit by a U.S. president. Menzies’ successor, Harold Holt welcomed the U.S. leader with the slogan, “All the way with LBJ.”

Economically, the decade also saw the start of a mining boom, with increased exports of minerals such as iron ore fuelling Japan’s industrialisation.


1970s: It’s time

The 1970s was a period of great change for Australia, marked by the 1972 election of the left-wing Labor party led by Gough Whitlam. Campaigning under the slogan “It’s time,” Labor enacted a raft of reforms, including ending the ‘White Australia’ immigration policy, withdrawing Australian troops from Vietnam and enacting free university education and national healthcare.

The end of the restrictive immigration policy opened the door to a wave of Vietnamese refugees and other immigrants, marking the beginning of a multicultural Australia.

Economically, in 1973 an oil price shock caused by OPEC disrupted the global and Australian economy, leading to sharply higher inflation and rising unemployment. 

In 1975, amid political turmoil, the Whitlam government was dismissed by the governor-general, John Kerr, under the authority of Britain’s Queen. Whitlam was replaced by Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser, who ruled until 1983.


1980s: Greed is good

The 1980s saw an economic revolution characterised by the ‘greed is good’ ethos of the 1987 U.S. movie, Wall Street. Young, upwardly mobile professionals known as “yuppies” were seen enjoying the fruits of prosperity with their imported cars and smart suits.

Unfortunately, the stock market crashed on October 19, 1987, a day known as ‘Black Monday’ for its global impacts. Australia plunged into recession, with Labor treasurer Paul Keating describing it as the recession Australia “had to have.”

Culturally, “Advance Australia Fair” became Australia’s official national anthem in 1984, replacing the British anthem, with green and gold becoming Australia’s colours.

Labor’s Bob Hawke ruled as leader from 1983 to 1991, gaining a record high approval rating of 75% in 1984 and enacting a range of deregulatory reforms. Hawke also famously celebrated Australia winning the America’s Cup yacht race in 1983, declaring that “any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up [to work] today is a bum.”

The fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989 also marked a new era, with the end of the Cold War heralding a new phase in global relations.


1990s: Recession and recovery

Japan’s ‘bubble economy’ crashed in 1990 and Australia also experienced a downturn at the start of the 1990s. Unemployment reached a record high 11.4% in 1992, with airline and bank failures hitting the business sector hard.

Socially, increased immigration resulted in nearly one in four Australians being born overseas, representing some 100 countries. The 1990s also saw the arrival of the internet and mobile phones, heralding a new era of communications.

Politically, Paul Keating ended Bob Hawke’s reign in a successful leadership challenge in 1991. However, after 13 years in office, Labor suffered a landslide defeat to the conservative Liberal-National coalition in 1996, led by John Howard, who ruled until 2007.

Overseas, Australian military forces supported the U.S.-led Iraq War in 1990. Closer to home, Australian troops led a U.N. peacekeeping force into East Timor in 1999. 


2000s: Celebrations and terror

The new decade began with a celebration for the new millennium, with Sydney hosting the Summer Olympics in 2000 and the centenary of Australia’s federation being marked on January 1, 2001. Economically, the growth of the internet led to a “dot-com boom” on the stock market which saw massive gains for internet-based companies.

However, terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center in September 2001 signalled the start of the global “war on terror” with Australia contributing troops to U.S.-led campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ordinary Australians also felt the effects of the war, with Islamic extremists bombing a bar in Bali, Indonesia, killing 88 Australian tourists.

In 2008, the global financial crisis (GFC) plunged the world into recession. However, the ‘Lucky Country’ managed to avoid a significant downturn, thanks to government spending and a mining boom driven by China’s rapid industrialisation.

Politically, Australia saw change again with John Howard’s long-serving government losing office in the 2007 election to Labor, led by Kevin Rudd. Rudd’s changes included ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and an apology to Indigenous Australians for the “Stolen Generations.”


2010s: Political topsy-turvy

Australia sailed into the new decade on the back of a seemingly unending boom, with the nation continuing to enjoy economic growth despite the GFC.

Yet while the economy remained stable, politically the decade was marked by a revolving door of leaders knifed by their own parliamentary colleagues. Kevin Rudd was the first to go, falling prey to his Labor party rival Julia Gillard in 2010 before snatching back the top job in 2013. 

Liberal leader Tony Abbott then trumped Rudd at the 2013 general election, before he felt the pain of a political backstabbing just two years later from his colleague Malcolm Turnbull. 

Turnbull however suffered the same misfortune, being overthrown by Scott Morrison in 2019. It all seemed very different to Japan’s period of leadership stability under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Natural disasters hit hard however, starting with the Brisbane floods in 2011 and followed by the bushfire disasters of 2020, known as “Black Summer” for burning some 1.8 million hectares and killing an estimated billion animals.

In 2020, Australia was hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the nation quickly shutting its borders to non-residents. The success of such measures has been shown by its limited toll from the virus, with 909 deaths reported as of March 31, 2021 among a population of more than 25 million.

As of April 2021, vaccines were slowly being distributed nationwide, with hopes of international travel resuming later that year or in 2022.


Did you know?

  • In 1957, Australia became the first nation to sign a trade pact with Japan since the end of World War II.
  • Bob Hawke, one of Australia’s most popular leaders, famously held the world record for drinking a yard glass of beer in under 12 seconds during his time at Britain’s Oxford University
  • Rosemary Follett was the first woman to lead an Australian government when she became chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory in 1989; Julia Gillard became the first female prime minister in 2010
  • The first Japanese settlers arrived in Australia in the late 1800s, working in the pearling industry.




Australia’s economy: The ‘Lucky Country’

Known as the ‘Lucky Country,’ Australia’s economy enjoyed a world-beating 28-year winning streak until stopped in its tracks by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the situation gradually returning to normal, the good times could be back soon for the land Down Under.


Quick comparisons – Australia vs Japan

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks Australia as the world’s 13th largest economy, with nominal gross domestic product (GDP) for the nation of 25 million people amounting to an estimated US$1.3 trillion.

In comparison, Japan, with a population of 126 million, ranked third with GDP of US$4.9 trillion, behind China’s US$14.8 trillion and the United States’ US$20 trillion.

In its October 2020 “World Economic Outlook” report, the IMF projected GDP growth for Japan of negative 5.3 per cent in 2020, rebounding to a positive 2.3 per cent expansion in 2021.

The OECD has similar forecasts for Japan in its December outlook. For Australia, it expects its economy to shrink by 3.8 per cent in 2020 but record positive 3.2 per cent growth in 2021.

Inflation in Australia is expected to stay low, at just 0.7 per cent in 2020 and 1.6 per cent in 2021, according to the OECD.

Unemployment has also only risen slightly due to the COVID-19 shutdown, reaching 7 per cent in October 2020 but falling to 6.8 per cent in November, although still well above Japan’s 2.9 per cent.

Despite a massive increase in government spending in response to the pandemic, Australia’s general government gross debt was estimated by the OECD at 57.7 per cent of GDP in 2020, compared to Japan’s 241 per cent.

Looking ahead, Capital Economics sees Australia’s economy recovering in 2021, with the London-based consultancy tipping a 4.5 per cent expansion next year. Depending on the extent of the coronavirus, which has flared up again recently in Sydney, it expects activity to recover to pre-virus levels by the second quarter.


Economic structure

Until COVID-19 hit, Australia’s economy was seemingly unstoppable, boosted by its growing population and exports of energy and minerals together with education, tourism and other services.

Australia is a major agricultural, energy and mining producer, with its top merchandise exports as of fiscal 2019 comprising iron ore (A$77 billion), coal (A$69 billion) and natural gas (A$49 billion). Japan represents Australia’s second-largest export market, accounting for nearly 16 per cent of merchandise exports.

Nevertheless, the services sector is the largest part of the economy, accounting for around 60 per cent of GDP and four out of five jobs.

In 2019, Australia’s GDP per capita was estimated at US$53,559 on a purchasing power parity basis, compared to Japan’s US$45,546.

Australia’s main exports to Japan in fiscal 2019 comprised natural gas (A$20 billion), coal (A$19.3 billion), iron ore (A$5.7 billion) and beef (A$2.3 billion), with its main imports from Japan including passenger cars (A$7.9 billion), refined petroleum (A$4 billion) and goods vehicles (A$1.8 billion).

Australia had investments in Japan totalling A$112 billion as of 2018, compared to Japan’s A$229 billion invested in Australia. For Japan, Australia was its ninth-largest export destination in 2018, with Australia being its third-largest source of imports.

A free-trade agreement between Australia and Japan which came into force in 2015 should further boost investment and trade between the two nations, which have highly complementary economies. For example, Australia exports beef and gas to Japan, while Japan delivers manufactured products such as cars and electronics.


Student job opportunities

Australia’s expected recovery from COVID-19 should see a return to normalcy in its education and retail sectors, boosting job opportunities for students.

For students, part-time work can range from restaurants and shops to childcare and fruit picking. Charities and various other non-government organisations also offer volunteer and other work experience for students (see here for a list).

Study Australia has an online “Student Starter Kit” which can provide a guide to student employability, based on a personalised profile. Importantly, international students working in Australia have the same protections as other Australians in the workplace, such as the minimum wage (currently A$19.84 per hour, or JPY 1,576).

The Department of Home Affairs has information on the various visas available for international students, including working holiday visas, while the Japanese Embassy and various consulates also provide information for Japanese citizens in Australia.

Longer term, Australia’s rising population and healthy economic outlook point to increasing opportunities for Japanese businesses and entrepreneurs. An increasing number of Japanese companies, ranging from drinks makers to home builders and technology firms to trading houses and banks, have established operations Down Under to take advantage of its growing market.

Looking for more information on the opportunities in Australia? Ask Hello Kids to point you in the right direction and ensure your son or daughter has the maximum opportunities from their studies!

Where is the most advanced education in the world?

Everyone wants the best possible education for their kids. But where in the world can you find it?

Before getting started, it is important to consider that finding the best education for your child comes down to a range of factors, including personal preference, willingness to travel, hobbies and interests and available resources.

The best school for an academic top performer may be completely different to a sports star, while adopting to a new environment can be challenging for some children.

However, if you are willing to look globally, various data on international performance is available to guide your choice.


Top 20 countries for international students

A good guide to the best countries for overseas students comes from UNESCO. The U.N. cultural agency collects data on which countries attract the most overseas students to their universities.

The winner is the United States, which continues to attract the largest number of international students.

According to 2014 data, the United States ranked top, followed by Britain, France and Australia, with Japan placed seventh.

The number of international students in the United States has continued to grow, reaching more than one million for four straight years through to 2019, according to the Institute of International Education. This was led by students from China (370,000), India (202,000) and South Korea (52,000), while Japan ranked eighth with 18,000.

The latest data from the Australian Government showed there were around 670,000 international students in the country from January – September 2020, led by students from China, India, Nepal, Vietnam and Brazil.


Top university rankings

Another guide to the best destination for your child’s future studies is world university rankings.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 ranked almost 1,400 universities across 92 countries, with the survey putting British and U.S. universities at the top of the list.

Britain’s University of Oxford ranked top, followed by the California Institute of Technology and Britain’s University of Cambridge. The next top performers were all U.S. institutions, comprising Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University and the University of Chicago.

University of Melbourne was Australia’s top performer, ranked 32nd, while the University of Tokyo was Japan’s best in 36th place.

A separate survey, the QS World University Rankings, also scores U.S. and British universities highly.

Its 2020 survey ranked MIT top, followed by its U.S. rivals Stanford and Harvard, with Oxford rated fourth. However, it also scored Singapore universities highly, with the Nanyang Technological University Singapore and the National University of Singapore ranked equal 11th.


Top-performing students

Student performance can indicate which countries’ education systems are the best performing worldwide. The OECD’s PISA triennial international survey is a guide in this regard, measuring 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.

Reading was the main subject assessed in the latest international survey, PISA 18, with 79 countries and economies surveyed. PISA 2018 defined reading literacy as “understanding, using, evaluating, reflecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential and to participate in society.”

The results showed Canada, Estonia, Finland and Ireland were the highest-performing OECD countries in reading, while students in China and Singapore scored significantly higher overall.

Japanese students overall performed above average in reading, mathematics and science, while Australian students were above average in reading and science but around average in mathematics.

However, there are wide variations in educational models. Finland, which has been a top performer since the first PISA survey in 2000, has a “child-centred” model with free education for all, from primary to higher education, including free school meals, and the principle that children are allowed to choose their own educative path.

This compares to the so-called “Asian model” of rote learning, which has been criticised by Western educators for focusing on performing well in tests rather than on free thinking.


So which is the best system?

Ultimately the best educational system for your child is one which suits their individual learning needs, skills and abilities while giving them the best possible basis for lifelong learning.

Both Japan and Australia have traditionally ranked highly internationally for their education systems, despite their differences in teaching methods and cultures. And U.S. and British universities have traditionally rated highly in reviews of international universities conducted by Western reviewers.

Japanese students who study in Australia can benefit from a system that promotes quality education and protection for international students, with a range of courses, scholarships and pathways available, across all levels of education.

Talk to Hello Kids about the best option for your child and how you can ensure your child has the best possible international education for a bright future.

Australian Aboriginal history and culture: Guide for visitors

Australia’s Aboriginal peoples have lived on the continent for more than 50,000 years, making them potentially the oldest population of humans living outside Africa. For anyone planning to visit Australia, why not explore this ancient culture further?

First, some definitions. Aboriginal Australians are recognised as “a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he [or she] lives.”

Aboriginal Australians are split into two groups: those related to the inhabitants when Britain began colonising Australia in 1788 and the Torres Strait Islander peoples, residents of a group of islands off Queensland.

The 2016 census found there were nearly 800,000 Indigenous people living in Australia, with the largest populations living in the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland. This compares to the estimated 750,000 to 1.25 million Aboriginals who were living in Australia when British settlers arrived.

A genetic study conducted in 2017 found that today’s Aboriginals are related to a common ancestor who was a member of a population that emerged in Australia around 50,000 years ago. One theory suggests that they emerged out of Africa around 70,000 years ago, migrating to Asia and then Northern Australia via boats.

At the time of European settlement, some 700 different Aboriginal languages and dialects were spoken, however this has since diminished to around 250. These live on through individual words and varieties of Aboriginal English.

Some examples of these languages spoken in Queensland can be found at the State Library of Queensland.


Cultural sites

The long history of Australia’s Indigenous people is reflected in the many significant archaeological sites found nationwide. Aboriginal people have a deep connection with the land, which is central to their spiritual identity.

In Queensland, more than 43,000 site locations have been identified. These include stone artefact scatters, the remains of campsites (known as middens) and other evidence of human occupation.

Significant culture sites include Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), a massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s “red centre”. Uluru is sacred to Indigenous Australians and is thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago.

Other significant sites include Botany Bay in Sydney, with evidence of shell middens having been occupied many times during the past 3,000 years. In Western Australia, archaeological work at Jinmium has uncovered stone artefacts and rock art of up to 60,000 years old.

Aboriginal art, culture and spirituality is connected to the “Dreamtime,” which tells of the beginning of life. These stories have been handed down through the generations, teaching the importance of nurturing the land, its significance and spiritual connection.


Discovering Indigenous culture in Queensland

Queensland offers a wealth of Indigenous experiences, including art, dance, traditional feasts and other cultural events.

On the Gold Coast, the Jellurgal Aboriginal Culture Centre at Burleigh Heads offers a range of experiences, from cultural tours to dance performances and ceremonies. The nearby “Spirits of the Red Sand” at Beenleigh Historical Village follows the epic story of an Aboriginal family in their life-changing journey from Dreamtime to their encounter with British settlers and beyond.

In Brisbane, the Queensland Art Gallery hosts an Indigenous Australian art collection with a focus on contemporary Aboriginal art, including paintings, sculpture, printmaking and more. It includes the most significant collection of contemporary Indigenous Australian fibre art from across the country.

The State Library of Queensland also hosts a significant documentary heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, including exhibitions, workshops and contemporary storytelling, while the Queensland Museum hosts cultural heritage items from Australia and across the Pacific.

A range of cultural events can also allow visitors to “connect to country” in a special way. Stretching from the Quandamooka Coast to Cairns, Cape York and Torres Strait, each event has a different story to tell.

These events include Quandamooka Festival, planned for June 2021 near Brisbane, which includes whale watching, cultural tours, art exhibitions and music. In Cairns, the Indigenous arts fair is one of Australia’s finest art fairs, celebrating all forms of Indigenous art from fashion to performances, painting and more.

Are you planning to visit Queensland or Australia in 2021? Ask Hello Kids for more information about how we can give you a special taste of Australia, with a unique Indigenous experience that touches your body and soul.

Learning English in Australia

G’day mate!

‘Aussie’ English has its own unique vernacular that makes it subtly different to other variants. It’s just one of the reasons why learning English in the land ‘Down Under’ can be so much fun, as well as beneficial to your kids’ future.


What’s different about Aussie English

Due to Australia’s history as a former British colony, the language is based on British English, although there are local variations.

Compared to American English, which is standard in Japan, ‘Aussie’ English has a different accent and style of speaking compared to English speakers in the United States, Britain, New Zealand and elsewhere.


Examples of Aussie English

Common Australian expressions include:

  • “G’day” – This is a greeting that translates as “hello” or “how are you”? Make sure though you emphasise the “day,” which sounds closer to “daaey,” while cutting the “g” sound short
  • “Mate” – a synonym for friend, used mainly by males. It is also used as a greeting, such as “G’day mate” or just a head nod with “mate”
  • “Fair dinkum” – this is used to state a fact or truth, such as “It’s true mate – fair dinkum!”
  • “No worries” – A common phrase indicating everything will be OK
  • O-words – Australians have a habit of adding an “o” to common words, such as “smoko” (having a smoking break), “arvo” (afternoon), “garbo” (garbage collector) and “bottlo” (liquor shop)


Speaking Aussie English

Speaking Aussie English takes practice, however the experts suggest the following:

  • Skip letters at the ends of words – for example, “meeting” becomes “meetin,” “going” becomes “goin” etc.
  • Change letters at the ends of words – for example, “super” becomes “supah,” “dinner” becomes “dinnah”
  • Turn “oo” sounds into “ew” sounds – for example, “pool” becomes “pewl,” “school” becomes “skewl”.

In terms of phonetics, the Australian accent is “non-rhiotic” compared to the American accent which is rhiotic.

For example, the “r” sound is not heard at the end of a word, or in the middle of words, unless it is followed by a vowel or vowel sound. However, when a word ending in “r” is linked to a word starting with a vowel, like “and,” the “r” is pronounced.

If it all sounds too hard, try and get more exposure to Australian accents by watching television, listening to radio or talking to locals.

Note that Australia is a multicultural country, so not everyone in Australia speaks exactly the same!


Why study English in Australia?

Australia offers a number of advantages for English learners, particularly Japanese and Asian students.

These include:

  • High quality teaching and language materials based on national quality standards
  • Access to the latest technology
  • Similar time zone to Japan/Asia
  • Quality health system (particularly important during global pandemics such as COVID-19)
  • Excellent support services for international students, including seven of the world’s best student cities
  • Multicultural environment, proving a truly international experience
  • Opportunity to gain employment in Australia, with the same entitlements to minimum wages and conditions as Australian workers
  • Access to nearly 2,000 government scholarships.

These features have helped make Australia the third most popular international student destination in the world, with nearly 700,000 international students currently.


Legal protections

Importantly, student rights are protected by law under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act, which protects the wellbeing of all international students and the quality of their educational experience.

Even before you enrol, under Australian law you have the right to receive current and accurate information regarding courses, entry requirements, fees and modes of study, along with other protections including a complaints and appeals process.

During your studies, your educational institution is required to give you advice on support and welfare services, legal services, emergency and health services and other advice including career guidance.

Australian workplace laws also apply to international students, meaning you have the same rights and conditions as Australian workers should you seek employment.

A factsheet for international students is available via this link. If you have any further questions, the Australian Government’s “Study in Australia” website provides further guidance and support.

While international and domestic travel is currently restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Australia also offers a wealth of opportunities for travel and experiences, ranging from diving on the Great Barrier Reef to enjoying Gold Coast theme parks or getting a firsthand look at cuddly koalas and other Australian animals, together with world-class cultural, dining and shopping experiences.

Talk to Hello Kids about how we can give you an outstanding English-language education from Australia for yourself and your family.






Australian family life during COVID-19

Kids in Japan, Australia and around the world have been forced to stay home from school with travel also restricted due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has placed stress on many families, but there are ways parents can help manage it and alleviate fear among children.

Australian family life in 2020 since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has been far from normal. Schools were shut for a number of weeks and travel both overseas and within Australia has been severely restricted.

Grandparents have been unable to see their grandkids, while kids have missed out playing with their friends at school. Sporting activities have been suspended, cinemas closed and restaurants and shops shuttered.

While the restrictions have been gradually eased, with schools largely reopened in June, fears of a second wave have prevented a complete return to “normal” life.

For example, Queensland state, where Hello Kids operates, has declared its borders will reopen on July 10, but visitors from the southern state of Victoria still face restrictions even after this date.

Australians are also prohibited from travelling overseas unless granted an exemption, while the nation’s borders are closed to overseas visitors, except for citizens, permanent residents or their families.

While wearing a face mask has become part of daily life in Japan, in Australia it is still only voluntary. However, citizens have been asked to maintain “social distancing” by keeping 1.5 metres away from others, washing hands regularly and getting tested if any symptoms occur.

Fortunately, Australia has had a small number of COVID-19 cases compared to many countries. As of June 30, the Department of Health had reported a total of 7,834 cases, with 104 deaths, largely of elderly people aged 70 and above.

However, while Australia’s situation may have stabilised, fears remain and children are susceptible to anxiety over the constant bad news in the media.


Talking to kids

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state children may worry about themselves, their family and friends getting ill with COVID-19. Parents and other trusted adults can help children make sense of the situation and reduce their anxiety through a number of methods:

* Stay calm – try and remain calm when talking to your children, since they will react to both what you say and how you say it.

* Reassure children they are safe – let them know it is okay if they feel upset or stressed.

* Make yourself available to listen and talk to your children.

* Avoid language that might blame others and cause stigma.

* Pay attention to what children see and hear on television, radio or online. Too much information on COVID-19 can lead to anxiety.

* Provide information that is truthful and appropriate for your child’s age and developmental level. Some information on the internet and social media may be inaccurate, so make sure they get the right information.

* Teach children daily actions to reduce the spread of germs, such as washing their hands frequently and avoiding people who are coughing or sneezing. Make sure they cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow.

* Discuss the situation at school and actions being taken to protect children and staff.

The Australian Red Cross also has a number of tips for parents on how to explain COVID-19 to children, such as describing what germs are, how they spread and how to prevent it spreading further.

When self-isolating, the charitable organisation suggests parents give kids “a sense of being in control” such as by getting them involved in family plans, checking in on friends and relatives via telephone or video calls and undertaking community volunteering activities, such as delivering food parcels to neighbours.

A helpful resource for parents is the charity’s “kids activity kit” which gives kids at home some engaging activities while parents are busy working. The charity also has advice on helping kids learning at home, as well as tips on staying physically active.

One benefit of the enforced lockdown from COVID-19 is many families have been brought together closer than ever before. With the kids baking in the kitchen and parents working remotely via computer, family life has taken a different but enjoyable turn.

Will life ever return to its pre-pandemic state again? Only time will tell, but in the meantime Australians – and citizens worldwide – anxiously await a return to normal activities such as eating out, shopping and travelling without the fear of COVID-19.

(HelloKids –  Yuta)






Brisbane for kids!

Brisbane is one of Australia’s most liveable and family-friendly cities yet it is often overlooked by tourists. Here’s a list of some of the Queensland capital’s top attractions, most of which are accessible for free.


South Bank Parklands

South Bank is Brisbane’s cultural centre but it also features an aquatic park perfect for those hot Brisbane summer days, along with other attractions.

Covering 17 hectares, the Parklands provide free facilities including riverside pools, walking tracks and children’s playgrounds. There are always plenty of activities going on too, from outdoor cinema to children’s workshops, fun runs, food and wine festivals and more.

Offering 360-degree views of the city, the Wheel of Brisbane in the heart of South Bank is another great way to keep the kids entertained, riding in fully enclosed, air-conditioned gondolas.

If you need somewhere to eat, neighbouring Little Stanley Street has more than 30 cafes, bars and restaurants offering a range of styles including Italian, Japanese, Mexican and Vietnamese, while the adjacent Grey Street hosts South Bank Cineplex, which features the latest movies at family-friendly prices.


South Bank Cultural Precinct

Queensland’s arts capital, the South Bank Cultural Precinct has something for everyone.

Check out the latest exhibits at the Queensland Museum and gets the kids’ brains engaged at its Sciencentre. Learn about Queensland’s history at the State Library of Queensland or indulge your children’s artistic sensibilities at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.

Alternatively, check out the latest musical, concert or other top-rated show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), which hosts everything from The Wiggles to the Paris Opera Ballet.

And if that isn’t enough, the nearby Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre hosts a range of events throughout the year, from the Lifeline Bookfest to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and more.


Mt Coot-tha Lookout

There is no better way to see Brisbane than from the Brisbane Lookout at scenic Mt Coot-tha.

Located just 7 kilometres from the CBD, the lookout offers panoramic views from the city to Moreton Bay.

If you are feeling energetic, there are 70 walking tracks around the mountain. Another nearby attraction is the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, a 52-hectare oasis that has been recognised as Queensland’s premier subtropical botanic gardens.

The gardens include a “hide and seek” children’s trail, where kids can hunt for native bees, a crocodile, water dragons and other wildlife.

Budding astronomers will also enjoy the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, which includes a cosmic skydome offering a tour of the galaxy and a life-size replica of U.S. astronomer Neil Armstrong’s lunar space suit.

For Japanese visitors, the gardens include a Bonsai House with around 100 plants, while the Japanese Garden designed by leading landscape architect Kenzo Ogata has delighted visitors since its opening in 1989.

The Japanese Garden also hosts the annual Japanese Cultural Day, offering a range of cultural activities including ikebana, calligraphy, rice cake making, tea ceremony and music.


City Botanic Gardens

Brisbane’s original botanic gardens, the inner-city City Botanic Gardens host attractions including a bamboo grove, weeping fig avenue, concert Riverstage, ornamental ponds and more.

The gardens feature regular events including concerts, exhibitions and shows at Riverstage and the Main Rotunda, together with fitness activities such as the South Bank Parkrun and family-oriented festivals.

Other parks worth checking out include the 16-hectare Roma Street Parklands near the CBD, historic New Farm Park and Chermside’s Kidspace, which boasts the “Buckingham Palace of cubby houses.”


Museum of Brisbane

Located in Brisbane’s heritage-listed City Hall, the Museum of Brisbane helps bring the city’s art, culture and history to life through exhibitions, workshops, tours and special children’s activities. Sunday is family day at the museum with special family-themed activities and tours.

Visitors can also book a free, 45-minute tour of City Hall to get further insights into the 1920’s building, including a ride in its historic lift up to the Clock Tower, which offers a special view of the city from its 92 metre high observation deck.

Alternatively, the organ and auditorium tour provides a view of the imposing 19th century organ, with the tour accompanied by a professional organist and guide.

For a look at Brisbane’s convict history, the 1828-29 Commissariat Store has a museum that explores the city’s colonial period. Queensland’s oldest building includes rotating and permanent exhibitions, including the infamous “convict finger.”


Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Get up close with Australia’s unique wildlife at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Cuddle a koala, hand-feed a kangaroo and enjoy the bird show and other activities at the centre, which was founded in 1927 as a refuge for sick, injured and orphaned koalas.


More ideas

Looking for other things to do with the kids in Brisbane? Here are some more ideas:

  • Take a “CityCat” ferry ride down the Brisbane River, or explore the city on two wheels by hiring a “CityCycle” bicycle
  • Book a free walking tour with a Brisbane Greeter and learn the secrets of the city, including wartime Brisbane, Aboriginal history or a lifestyle precinct of your choice
  • Go shopping at the Brisbane City Markets or the pedestrian-only Queen Street Mall, including a visit to the heritage-listed Brisbane Arcade
  • For rail fans, take a trip to nearby Ipswich to explore the Workshops Rail Museum
  • Feed the dolphins at Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island, a 75-minute catamaran cruise from Brisbane
  • Enjoy a spooky tour of the notorious former prison, Boggo Road Jail, which is said to be haunted by ghosts
  • Get sporty by checking out a game of cricket or Aussie Rules at the Gabba Stadium, or alternatively soccer, rugby union or rugby league at Suncorp Stadium
  • Dance to some of the world’s biggest musical acts at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

With so much to do, you and the kids won’t be bored by a visit to Brisbane, rated by National Geographic as one of the coolest cities to visit in 2020. Hello Kids will be happy to provide more information to make your trip as fun as possible!

Technology in early childhood education

Once the domain of chalkboards and sandpits, early childhood learning has now evolved with the digital age to incorporate tablets and other devices. How can educators respond and what are the pros and cons of the new technologies?

For children aged three and above, technology can be a pathway towards success and high achievement. However, there are also risks to manage that require a proactive approach from both educators and parents.


Technological benefits

A 20-year research project showed that the more mental stimulation a child receives around the age of four, the more developed the parts of their brains dedicated to cognition and language will be in future decades. Such mental stimulation could include books and educational toys, as well as new technologies.

Other potential benefits from technology include improved hand-eye coordination, better language skills, enhanced visual attention, greater problem-solving and dynamic spatial skills. For example, by reading eBooks, children can learn new words and their correct pronunciation, while multimedia presentations can expose children to different cultures and environments.

Infants and toddlers often enjoy looking at digital photographs and videos of themselves and family members and these images can be used by educators to promote opportunities for collaborative language development, according to advocacy group Early Childhood Australia (ECA).

Young children can also use digital technologies for purposeful communication with adults, such as sending photos and emails. Research shows that using digital technologies for video communication can be socially beneficial for young children, such as using “Line” to communicate between Australia and Japan.

Another example might be using “Siri” – a voice-controlled, virtual assistant – to help build a child’s curiosity. The simple question “Siri, what time is school tomorrow” can help encourage assertiveness and leadership in young children, including speech pathology.

Tablets such as iPads give children direct feedback and outcome control, with responsive signals that encourage success and accomplishment, based on “hands on” touch screen media.

Educators can create opportunities for children to use digital technologies collaboratively, such as creating content, developing ideas and documenting learning. For example, two or more children could use a digital microscope to examine natural materials found in the environment, then share their observations on a display screen, facilitating discussion with others.

Educators also have the opportunity to document children’s learning using digital photographs and videos, with such content easily shared with parents via social media or other platforms.

ECA suggests digital technologies can also be used to promote physical activity, such as using virtual game devices that require whole-body movement (such as a dance step game on an electronic dance mat), or using wearable technologies to measure physical activity.

Children can also use digital technologies to promote different postures, such as crawling and moving around on their hands and knees when playing with technologies such as robots.


Balanced approach

While digital technologies have many benefits for early childhood learning, educators and parents need to pursue a balanced approach.

The Australian Government warns against excessive sitting and long periods of sedentary time such as screen viewing, suggesting that such time should be limited to no more than one hour per day for children aged two years and older. It is important that screen-based digital technology use does not replace periods of active physical movement.

Researchers also warn against children’s sleep being interrupted by digital technologies. There is strong evidence that having digital screens available in sleeping spaces can result in poorer quality and reduced sleep for young children.

Children’s wellbeing can also be affected by digital games and activities. When children experience frustration or disappointment within a game, or are invited to move onto another activity, this can lead to challenging behaviours, according to research.

In such situations, young children can benefit from educators setting timeframes for technology usage as well as providing emotional support, the ECA says.

Educators also need to be mindful of online safety, such as using filters and setting restrictions on devices and networks used in early childhood education to promote safe experiences. It is important for educators to help children develop an understanding of the internet, based on proactive adult supervision.


Australia’s position

Recent studies have highlighted the growing use of technology in the classroom in Australia, including primary and secondary schools, with a similar movement occurring in early childhood learning.

A 2018 survey led by Curtin University professor Dr Juliana Zabatiero found that Australian children were spending an average of 86 minutes per day on devices, led by TV and followed by tablet, mobile phone and desktop or laptop computer. For early childhood learning, the figure was 41 minutes, dominated by TV, followed by tablets.

Early childhood services are “increasingly integrating technologies into play-based learning,” Dr Zabatiero found, with the survey showing the main usage was for games (37 per cent), educational (23 per cent), videos (21 per cent) and general (19 per cent).

Nationally, Australian schools have one computer for every student compared to the OECD average of one for every five students, ensuring students are prepared in how to learn, train and live in a digital world.

Stressing the importance of exposing young children to digital technologies, U.S.-based academic Dr Chip Donohue said: “The digital age is moving far too fast to say, ‘I choose to not engage.’

“These are tools of the children’s world, these are tools of their culture, these are tools that will be critical for their school readiness and success.”

If you are preparing to send your child to Australia for study, you can be confident that your child will have access to the latest educational technologies to ensure they are ready for the challenges of the digital age.

Children’s formative period and the role of living abroad

The early years of life are vital for a child’s learning and development and parents have a key role to play in supporting this. However, living abroad can also give your child a head start, educators suggest.

The first few years are critical since the brain develops most rapidly during the early period of a child’s life, particularly from birth to age three.

“During these critical years, the foundation is laid for a child’s physical and mental health, affecting everything from longevity to the lifelong capacity to learn, from the ability to adapt to change to the capacity for resilience against adverse circumstances,” the World Health Organization states.


Learning influences

Children’s development and learning is shaped by a range of factors, including:

  • Self-influences – genetic inheritance, gender, health, temperament
  • Family influences – family relationships, parenting styles, parents’ education and occupation, parents’ physical and mental health
  • Community influences – children’s services, support for parenting, housing, safety, level of trust among residents
  • Cultural influences – different cultures have different parenting styles, beliefs and values, such as the differences between Japanese and Western cultures.

For parents, the most important thing is to “provide real opportunities for children to learn, develop and have fun during those [early] years,” according to the Victorian Government.

Since health and physical wellbeing are the basis for all learning and development, it is crucial for parents to ensure a safe and healthy environment.

Forming identity

From birth, children are exposed to information that helps teach them about who they are. Yet it is not until they approach their second birthday that they “start to develop a sense of self and are able to reflect on themselves from the perspective of somebody else,” according to academic research.

An indicator of this self-awareness is when children start recognising themselves in a mirror or photograph. By the age of three, a child may start showing amends for wrongdoing or demonstrate pride in their own behaviour.

By the time they reach the age of eight, “they will have a relatively stable idea of their own personality traits and dispositions, and whether they feel like a valuable and competent person.”

Significantly, children with positive perceptions of themselves show the best social and academic outcomes. Parents can help their child generate positive self-esteem by “reacting positively to them and their achievements, and helping them to overcome negative events.”

“Psychologists think parents can also shape children’s self-worth right from birth: when they provide a positive response to an infant’s actions it provides them with their first experiences of having a positive impact on the world,” the researchers argue.

The California Department of Education suggests the first five years are key for physical, intellectual and socio-emotional development, with children needing different things depending on their age.


The benefit of living overseas

The Victorian Government suggests children need opportunities to “be in the world doing things” such as meaningful experiences. What better way of offering your child meaningful experiences than providing the opportunity to live abroad?

The term “third culture kid” (“TCK”) was coined by US sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in describing children who have spent their formative years living in a culture other than their own. (In Japan, the term “kikokushijo” or “repatriate children” describes those children who have experienced a considerable part of their education overseas).

Notable TCK’s include former US President Barack Obama, who was born to a Kenyan father and American mother and moved to Indonesia after his mother married an Indonesian. A Japanese example is tennis star Naomi Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother but has lived in the United States since the age of three.

TCK’s typically obtain higher levels of education, with a US study finding some 81 per cent of adult TCK’s had earned a bachelor’s degree compared to 21 per cent of the general US population.

“TCK’s are more likely to speak more than one language, have a broader world view and be more culturally aware,” sociologist Ruth Van Reken says.

Some of the benefits of giving your child an international experience include being able to integrate more easily with strangers, having a greater sense of the world and prolonging their “childlike sense of wonder.”

“New sights, smells, tastes and experiences will constantly delight – what’s more it will mean our children passively but positively learn, learn, learn. What could be a better experience for your child?” argues

Children aged below 10 also find it easier to communicate in foreign languages. Moving to Australia will obviously benefit their English language skills, which could be vital in their future career.

Other benefits of living abroad include gaining enhanced creativity, learning new skills, cementing the bond between parent and child and even appreciating their home country more.

In summary, “by moving abroad and immersing oneself in a completely new and ‘alien’ environment, everything is new and everything is a positive experience in terms of teaching and learning from your child’s point of view.”

Given the importance of a child’s formative years, providing an overseas learning experience while they are still young could have major benefits on their future development. Hello Kids is happy to support you and your child as you embark on this journey of discovery.

The benefits of bilingual education

Bilingual education has been shown to be an enormous advantage for children’s development. With researchers pointing to benefits including executive function, empathy, reading and employment opportunities as well as even protecting against dementia, being bilingual can offer life-long rewards.


Bilingual: a definition

What does being bilingual mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary, being bilingual means being “fluent in two languages,” whereas “monolingual” is someone who only speaks one language. 

Yet “fluent” means different things to different people. Not all bilinguals will be completely fluent in reading, writing and speaking two different languages.

However, as Professor Francois Grosjean says: “Bilinguals know their languages to the level that they need them. Some bilinguals are dominant in one language, others do not know how to read and write one of their languages, others have only passive knowledge of a language and, finally, a small minority, have equal and perfect fluency in their languages.

“What is important to keep in mind is that bilinguals are very diverse, as are monolinguals.”

Fortunately though, research has shown that children given a bilingual education have a range of advantages over their monolingual peers.


Improved brain function

“Bilingualism is an experience that shapes our brain for a lifetime,” says Gigi Luk, associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

According to researchers, bilinguals often outperform monolinguals on measures of “executive” function, such as the ability to pay focused attention to a task without being distracted. Bilinguals are also more easily able to switch from one task to another.

Bilingual children as young as three years old have proven better than monolinguals on tests of perspective-taking and the “theory of mind” – both of which are seen as key emotional and social skills.


Better readers

A four-year trial conducted in Oregon, United States found that “dual-language” students outperformed their peers in English-reading skills by “a full year’s worth of learning by the end of middle school.”

Such “dual-language” students were those studying Japanese, Mandarin or Spanish in addition to English.

Harvard’s Luk also found that bilinguals also outperformed in decoding texts, even those with weak English-language skills, through their superior problem-solving abilities.


Enhanced engagement

In Virginia, United States, professors emeritus Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier found dual-language students had higher test scores on average and also seemed “happier in school” compared to their monolingual colleagues.

“Attendance is better, behavioural problems fewer, parent involvement higher,” the researchers said.


Protection against dementia

Longer term, researchers suggest that actively using two languages can have a protective effect against age-related dementia, potentially related to the changes in brain structure seen in bilinguals.

Among patients with Alzheimer’s in a Canadian study, a group of bilingual adults performed on par with a group of monolingual adults in terms of cognitive tests and daily functioning.

Yet when researchers looked at the two groups’ brains, they found evidence of brain atrophy that was five to seven years more advanced in the bilingual group.

In other words, the adults who spoke two languages were carrying on longer at a higher level despite greater degrees of damage.


Economic, social advantages

Still need more reasons to give your kids a bilingual edge? Think of the potential opportunities for their future career in being able to speak the world’s business language, English or another major language.

A career in diplomacy or international business is definitely an option for those with proficiency in foreign languages.

There are also obvious social benefits in being able to connect with people all over the world through a shared language.

In addition, bilingual kids also have a strong sense of cultural identity which can improve their mental health and establish a strong sense of self-worth.


When to start bilingual education

Parents can start whenever they are ready. Experts suggest the most important areas in language development are “exposure and need” – if children are exposed to a language in a variety of circumstances they will learn it, and if they need two languages to communicate with people around them, they will learn both.

Are there opportunities to expose your child to another language? Do you have friends or relatives who could assist? Do you travel abroad? Are there speaking classes in your neighbourhood?

Look for opportunities where your child can gain meaningful exposure to another language, wherever you can find them.


How studying abroad helps

An obvious opportunity to expose your child to an English-language environment overseas is via Hello Kids, a specialist in parent-child English-language education in beautiful Australia.

As the experts say: “Students, teachers, and researchers alike commonly agree that one of the most effective and efficient means for becoming proficient in a second language is study abroad.”

There is no substitute for gaining complete exposure to a foreign language environment by living in an overseas country, where you are exposed to another language on a daily basis and are forced to communicate in another language.

At Hello Kids, we will be with you every step of the way to maximise the opportunity and ensure your child gains the full benefits of a bilingual education.