Families in the Western Suburbs typically hold a high regard for higher education and place importance upon their children’s education. The majority of inhabitants are white-collar professionals, working in such areas of employment as physicians, lawyers, economists, university professors, architects, scientists, engineers, dentists, high-level civil servants and the intelligentsia. The emphasis placed on tertiary education is expected, given that most people living in these suburbs are professionals who hold graduate degrees.
The majority of children from families living in the Western Suburbs attend one of the numerous private schools situated in the Golden Triangle. Compared with other areas of Perth, there is a considerably higher concentration of private schools in the Western Suburbs than elsewhere. Schools in the area include:
• Christchurch Grammar School (male-only intake)
• Iona College (female-only intake)
• John the Twenty-Third College (co-educational)
• Saint Hilda’s Anglican Girls School
• Scotch College (male-only intake)
• Methodist Ladies College
• Newman College (co-educational)
• Presbyterian Ladies College
• Hale School (male-only intake)
• Shenton College (co-educational, government)
The last of these is the sole Government school, the rest being private, religiously-affiliated institutions. The private schools incur a substantial cost, reaching well into the $100,000s for a high-school career. However, the monetary issue is not usually the deciding factor in choosing a school, given the high income of most families living in the area.
Schools in the Western Suburbs are consistently in the upper echelons of achievement in the states’ Tertiary Entrance Exam and Ranking, priding themselves on both academic excellence and sporting success. Many of the schools partake in interschool-competitions, including rowing, football, netball, hockey and soccer.
The strong academic record of these schools function as a major incentive to Western Suburb parents, because there is a view that they increase the child’s chances of gaining more competitive entrance ranking for Western Australia’s many universities (in a similar facet to North America’s Prepatory School system). Although not a strict rule, there is a fair trend for students from western suburb families to attend The University of Western Australia over the other tertiary institutions.
However, there has recently been some controversy over the behaviour of teenagers attending Western Suburb High Schools. The hard partying lifestyle and bad behaviour of Western Suburb schoolchildren has reached the press, including an infamous party held by Scotch College boys where a stripper was solicited. High levels of alcohol consumption from the early teen years, drug use and promiscuous behaviour have been reported as especially apparent at parties hosted by Western Suburb teenagers.
WAY OF LIFE
There are many parallels between the life of a “Westie” and the life of an American “Prep” of the traditional sense. Many Western Suburb families belong to yachting, golf and/or tennis clubs- taking advantage of the pleasant West Australian climate almost all-year round. Many also partake in swimming and surf club. Weekend morning sport is a family institution, ranging from netball at Matthew’s Netball Centre to Australian Rules football. Lacrosse, soccer and hockey are also popular.
Both foreign and local travels are highly regarded. Many families own second or third holiday houses in the south of Western Australia (“down south”) or, less commonly, to the north. Coastal Towns such as Margaret River, Eagle Bay, Albany, Busselton and Durian Bay are popular choices. In winter, many families head “over east” to the ski-fields of Victoria or New South Wales. During summer, many families spend time at their own or rented holiday houses, and also at Rottnest Island. Those families who own cruising yachts or power boats often stay on moorings and others stay in the island’s holiday villas during the summer holidays and long weekends in March and April.
Western Suburb women often shop at department stores such as David Jones and Myer for basics. Other areas include Kings Street in Perth, Claremont, Subiaco and Leederville. American brands such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein et cetera are popular, as too are Australian designers such as Allanah Hill, Willow, Morrisey, Lisa Ho and Josh Goot (to name a few). Dress is typically neat, although with a trendy edge.
Many popular destinations for entertainment include The Claremont, The Subi, the Cott, OB, the Ave, Kuppa, Red Sea, the Llama bar, Cino to Go, Café Café, Broadway Pizza, the Pizza lounge, Ecco, Wagamama, Windsor and Ace cinemas and various Dome cafes. Western Suburb beaches include Cottesloe, Swanbourne, City Beach, Floreat, Leighton and Scarborough (Scabs). Matilda Bay is also popular for picnics, canoeing and sailing.
The speech of those living in these suburbs is often noticeably different to those living in the outer suburbs. The majority of inhabitants use what is called “Educated Australian”, as opposed to the “Broad Australian” accent. The accent is less pronounced, with words being pronounced more softly, with less of an Australian twang. Proper grammar is also preferred. The higher level of education is a probable factor on these differences.
Josie and Harriet: Fine, thankyou.
Josie: Where does that girl come from??
Harriet: Clearly nowhere in the Western Suburbs...
Josie: Her hair is so greasy!
Harriet: With horrid highlights and layering! Her makeup is so thick!
Josie: ...and a fake Louis Vuitton purse. How unclassy.