Australian government on Thursday announced that they were bringing in reforms to strengthen Australian citizenship by putting Australian values at the heart of citizenship processes and requirements.
In a press release, the Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton said, “Our reforms will ensure applicants are competent in English, have been a permanent resident for at least four years and commit to embracing Australian values.”
He stated that membership of the Australian family was a privilege and should be granted to only those who supported the Australian values, respected laws and wanted to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia.
“Citizenship is at the heart of our national identity. It is the foundation of our democracy. We must ensure that our citizenship program is conducted in our national interest,” he said.
Here are the 6 new requirements to acquire Australian citizenship:
- All applicants are required to pass a stand-alone English test, involving reading, writing, listening and speaking;
- Applicants are required to have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years (instead of one year at present);
- Citizenship test will be strengthened with new and more meaningful questions that assess an applicant’s understanding of – and commitment to – shared values and responsibilities;
- Applicants will be required to show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community. Examples would include evidence of employment, membership of community organisations and school enrolment for all eligible children.
- An applicant can fail the citizenship test only three (at present there is no limit to the number of times an applicant can fail the test);
- An automatic fail for applicants will be introduced who cheat during the citizenship test.
The statement says, “English language proficiency is essential for economic participation.
“It promotes integration into the Australian community and social cohesion. Relevant exemptions will apply, such as for permanent or enduring incapacity and for those under 16 years of age.”
The new reforms will also consider criminal record including violence against women and children, of an applicant.
“Any conduct that is inconsistent with Australian values will be considered as part of this process. For example, criminal activity, including violence against women and children, involvement in gangs or organised crime, is thoroughly inconsistent with Australian values.
“These changes have been informed by the feedback received from the National Consultation on Citizenship, conducted by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and the Hon Philip Ruddock MP in 2015 and the 2016 Productivity Commission Report Migrant Intake into Australia.”
The Government will introduce new citizenship related legislation into the Parliament by the end of 2017. However, the new requirements will apply to all new applications for Australian citizenship effective 20th April 2017.