People living in some areas of regional Australia can now sit the Australian Citizenship test at their local Centrelink or Medicare Service Centres, it has been announced.
A new partnership between the departments of immigration and human services means that it will be easier for people living in regional areas across Australia to sit the citizenship test.
The government now offers weekly citizenship testing at 29 service centres across Australia from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Mackay in Queensland, said Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
‘People living in these areas can now take a citizenship test at their local service centre instead of travelling to capital cities or waiting for immigration staff to visit their local area,’ he explained.
The partnership was trialled at seven sites in 2012 and has now been expanded to 29 sites. Since October 2007, applicants for Australian citizenship have needed to pass a citizenship test to become an Australian citizen.
Some 125, 000 citizenship tests are taken every year across the country and around 14, 000 of these are taken in regional areas of Australia.
Previously, Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff visited regional centres to conduct the tests, usually on a monthly or bimonthly basis.
Now, about 280 tests will take place each week in regional areas across Australia, making it much easier for migrants to sit the test if they live outside capital cities.
Thousands of people will be awarded Australian citizenship in ceremonies across the country on Citizenship Day on 17 September. Australian citizenship affirmation ceremonies are also becoming increasingly popular. It is a short ceremony where anyone can affirm their loyalty and commitment to Australia.
‘Australian Citizenship Day was launched in 2001 to increase community awareness of Australian citizenship. It now provides a main point for citizenship related activities and celebrations,’ said a DIBP spokesman.
‘Australian citizenship is more than a legal status. It is our common bond that represents our shared democratic beliefs and gives us a sense of belonging and pride in our achievements as a nation. All Australians are encouraged to value their Australian citizenship and the contributions that citizens make in shaping the nation,’ he added.
The date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the renaming of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948.