For the first time in more than a decade, the Australian Government has updated the Australian Citizenship Test. The test is a required step in the process of becoming an Australian citizen. It assesses future citizens’ understanding of Australian customs, history and societal expectations before their citizenship is finalised. While the majority of the test will remain the same, questions have been added that cover ‘national values’.
“The updated Citizenship Test will have new and more meaningful questions that require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law,” said the acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, in a recent announcement.
“Our Australian values are important. They have helped shape our country and they are the reason why so many people want to become Australian citizens.”
The changes come into effect on 15 November 2020 and will “require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values” before making the decision to become an Australian citizen, according to Tudge.
What will change?
The new test will include 20 questions on equality, democracy, and mutual respect. The applicant must correctly answer all the questions on Australian values and receive an overall mark of at least 75% to pass the test. There won’t be any changes to the English language or residence requirements.
The Guardian gives the following examples of the new questions:
- Why is it important that all Australian citizens vote to elect the state and federal parliament?
- Should people in Australia make an effort to learn English?
- In Australia, can you encourage violence against a person or group of people if you have been insulted?
- Should people tolerate one another where they find that they disagree?
- In Australia, are people free to choose who they marry or not marry?
- In Australia, is it acceptable for a husband to be violent towards his wife if she has disobeyed or disrespected him?
- Do you agree that men and women should be provided equality of opportunity when pursuing their goals and interests?
- Should people’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression be respected in Australia?
While there will be no changes to the English language requirements for citizenship, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said there will be an increased focus on English language proficiency, citing employment opportunities as a central reason for this.
“One of the things I learned when I was Immigration Minister and a Social Services Minister is that people’s employment outcomes as a migrant to Australia rapidly increase if they have got a good strong command of English,” he said recently.
The effects of the changes
The CEO of the Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre, Kamala Dabboussy, doesn’t believe that the changes will have much of an impact on potential migrants.
Speaking to The Guardian, Dabboussy argued that the “test isn’t the important bit,” suggesting that the important part is making the applicant “feel very connected to our society.”
“The test itself isn’t adding anything to their Australianness; they’re already Australian, already a part of this society,” she added.