Like most relatively young settler nations, Australia embodies hopes that reach far beyond its shores. Modern Australia was conceived as a relatively classless, properly democratic place, where ordinary people are able to live well, where there is steady and fair social progress, and where the ideas of collectivism and mutuality matter as much as the rights of the individual. These ideas come together in a unique democratic project that, while never fully realised, Australians have historically striven for.
Australians have always been dreamers and thinkers, who, over the past 200 years, have worked to make this one of the world’s innovative democracies. One of the world’s oldest continuous democracies, most Australians lived under democratically elected governments by the mid-1850s, and the nation as a whole has been a democracy since Federation in 1901. In 1856, three Australian colonies in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria introduced the world’s first secret ballot, a system that was known as the "Australian ballot" on its introduction in the United States in 1888.