Australian Citizenship - what does it mean to you?

Would you be prepared to sit the test?

Do you know who our Head of State is? Have you any idea what Royal Assent means? How many members are there in the House of Representatives? What is the name of the star that sits above the shield on the Coat of Arms? Do you even know what the Coat of Arms is?

For those who have been born in Australia, or whose parents have Australian citizenship, it is easy to take for granted the value of Australian citizenship. For many new comers who are settling into life in Australia, applying for citizenship is a critical choice, one which may involve foregoing formal ties with the country of origin. To gain Australian Citizenship applicants must also successfully pass an official Citizenship Test. The process can be challenging.

On 30 may 2007 the Australian government introduced into parliament the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship testing) Bill which was subsequently passed on 12 September 2007. Testing began on 1 October the same year. The initial test required migrants wishing to gain citizenship to answer 20 randomly chosen questions based on a Citizenship resource book, produced by the then Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. The content of the book was very dense and written in a complex and formal style which many native speakers would have found difficult to read. Fortunately an independent review (which one of our EFW team contributed to) brought about changes to the test and a new citizenship test began on 19 October 2009. This test was then based on a new resource book Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond which along with new questions was re -written in Plain English. Testing now comes from the first part of the book only, covering –

• Australia and its people

• Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights and liberties

• Government and the law in Australia

Other areas such as sport, geography, famous Australians, history, culture etc although included, are in the second half of the book which is non-testable.

Through our experience in working with people migrating to Australia, we have found that most new comers are very interested in knowing all about their new country. However, it takes time to absorb all this new information. Let’s see how well you might do if sitting the test. Try doing the questions below without looking up answers on the internet. Please note that although the questions are based on the content of Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, the first three questions only have been taken from the resource book practice question section. And don’t forget, if you are a native born Australian (or came here at a young age), you have had these facts presented to you all the way through school.

1. Which arm of the government has the power to interpret and apply the laws?

2. What is the name of a proposal to make a law in parliament?

3. What is a referendum?

4. What year was gold discovered in NSW and Victoria?

5. What date did Australia unite into a federation of states called the Commonwealth of Australia?

6. How many official flags does Australia have?

7. What system of government does Australia have?

8. Who is Head of state in Australia?

9. How many levels of government are there in Australia?

10. How many senators are there in Federal government?

Next time we will be looking at what support there is out there to assist people in preparing for the Australian Citizenship  test. We  will  also give you the answers to the above questions.