Australian government seeks views on citizenship
The Australian Government is holding a consultation on how people can appreciate Australian citizenship more and to raise awareness of its privileges and obligations.
In what is being described as 'a national conversation', people are being encouraged to email their views or submit them online by the end of June as part of a programme that officials say will help to create a strong, safe and cohesive future for Australian society.
The consultation paper says that citizenship is a cornerstone of Australia’s inclusive and pluralist democracy. 'Together we have built a modern nation on the idea that people can get ahead if they are prepared to have a go. Still, in a world in which terrorists are reaching out to our community, we cannot be complacent about our future as a strong, safe and cohesive society. It is time for a national conversation about the role of citizenship in shaping our future,' it explained.
'Regardless of how we gain it, Australian citizenship is an extraordinary privilege requiring a continuing commitment to this country. Australian citizens enjoy privileges, rights and fundamental responsibilities. We need to ask ourselves whether the responsibilities of Australian citizenship are well enough known and understood,' it points out.
'As a nation, we have found unity in our diversity and respect in our differences. We should continue to welcome people to make this country their home. That is non-negotiable. But our welcome cannot be a one-way street. All Australians should respect the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and mutual respect. Regardless of our heritage, as citizens, our first duty is to Australia,' it adds.
There have been a number of changes to Australian citizenship over the years. In 1993 changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 were made to recognise Australian citizenship as a common bond uniting all Australians and involving reciprocal rights and obligations.
The same year there was the introduction of the Pledge of Commitment to ensure new citizens commit to the Australian nation and people and in 2001 Australian Citizenship Day was launched. It is now celebrated on 17 September each year, to increase community awareness of Australian citizenship.
In 2002 changes were made to allow Australian citizens to acquire citizenship of another country without losing their Australian citizenship, what is known as dual citizenship. In 2007 a new Australian Citizenship Act was written in plain English and a citizenship test to ensure prospective citizens appreciate Australia's laws and values was introduced.
The most recent change was in 2009 with the Agreement to Civics and Citizenship under the Australian Curriculum to reinforce understanding of what it means to be an Australian citizen. The broader Australian Curriculum includes skills development in areas including personal and social capability, which complement the Civics and Citizenship learning area.