Some introspective, personal comments on Australian English and the stigma of a broad Australian accent:
Whereas US English has significant regional differences from state to state, Australian English runs in basically a cline from Broad Australian through General Australia to what is sometimes called cultivated or educated Australian. People in the state capitals tend to be towards the general or cultivated end of the scale, and in each state as you get into the more rural/remote areas, it gets broader. (Urban South Australians are something of an exception, as their dialect has some things in common with cockney).
Some of you would probably have difficulty understanding a very broad Australian accent. I remember when I was backpacking in the UK I met up with a fellow from Longreach (which really is in the middle of nowhere), and a lot of the time I had to translate his English into a more internationally recognised form of English for the other people we encountered. Although general Australian is certainly very different from RP, you could certainly say a broad Australian accent is further from RP than a general Australian accent. The vowels are strongly shifted, it tends to be nasal, and there are some subtle consonantal differences as well.
I grew up in a small city in tropical North Queensland and moved to the state capital as an adult. Even before I moved, though, while I was in high school, my accent became less broad as I hung around people who aimed to be better: maybe it was an affectation. Certainly after I moved to the capital I drifted towards general Australian, but when I went back up north to visit my family I could switch back.
It’s clear from the old newsreels and TV broadcasts that up until the 1960s, news presenters used rather British accents. The people they interviewed in the street spoke with various Australian accents, but it seemed you couldn’t get a news gig unless you could sound like Richard Burton. Even today, you will never hear an Australian newsreader using a broad Australian accent. It is still associated, mentally, with a lack of sophistication, poor education, ignorance and backwards ideas.
So what’s going on? Are we embarrassed? A bit. The Brits (Poms, as we call them) never miss an opportunity to remind us that Australia was born in shame, a colony built by their worst offenders, and later filled by the rejecta of proper countries. There are big chips on our national shoulders. Australia has had some decent achievements in recent years and you’d think we’d be past all the cultural cringe, but there is a certainly a view in Australia that a strong Australian accent sounds ugly. Our current Prime Minister was, like Burton, born in Wales but was in Australia since she was a toddler and has somehow acquired an accent broad enough to make Crocodile Dundee sound like Sir John Gielgud. A lot of Australians will tell you it is hard to put up with, that is just sounds rotten or jarring, and even though I try to be rational about these things, if pressed I’d have to agree. If I had to listen to a national leader read a particular long piece, I’d probably prefer Obama or Cameron rather than Gillard. It’s a terrible thing to say because she sounds like my parents did when they were alive, she sounds like I used to sound, but a strong Australian accent just doesn’t sound _formal_ enough for a PM.