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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Population >> Citizenship

The concept of Australian citizenship was introduced when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 (since renamed the Australian Citizenship Act 1948) came into effect on Australia Day 1949. From 1949 until June 2000, over 3 million people born overseas have acquired Australian citizenship.

Australian citizenship law and policy have been amended many times since their inception to reflect progressively a more inclusive approach to acquisition of Australian citizenship. All migrants who meet set criteria are encouraged to become Australian citizens. Children acquire Australian citizenship at birth if at least one parent is an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia.

Some of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship include: the opportunity to vote and have a say in how the country is run; to stand for public office; more opportunity for employment in the public sector - including the armed forces; eligibility for an Australian passport; and the ability to seek assistance from the Australian Government if required when travelling overseas. Adults acquiring Australian citizenship pledge their loyalty to Australia and its people, share in the beliefs of the democratic process, respect the liberties of other Australians, and uphold and obey Australia's laws.

Standardising gives the citizenship rates that would be expected if a given overseas-born population had the same profile of age and period of residence in Australia as the total overseas-born population (table 5.54). The standardised citizenship rate for the Greek-born population was 87%. Based on standardised rates, people born in Viet Nam had the highest rate of citizenship (90%) in 1996.

People born in the main English speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, had low standardised citizenship rates. This may be because "...the shared language, and strongly similar legal, political, and industrial relations arrangements of Australia and the other Anglo-American countries lead these immigrants to feel less need to make a choice of national identity." (Evans M. 1988).

5.54 CITIZENSHIP RATES, By Country of Birth - 1996

Country
Persons

’000
Citizenship rate

%
Standardised citizenship rate(a)

%

Viet Nam
151.1
88.5
89.6
Former Yugoslav Republics
175.4
87.5
87.3
Greece
126.5
96.1
87.3
China
111.0
48.6
76.3
Italy
238.2
78.8
65.6
Germany
110.3
75.8
63.1
Netherlands
87.9
77.7
60.4
United Kingdom
1,124.0
60.5
57.5
New Zealand
291.4
32.3
38.3
Total overseas born
3,901.9
67.8
67.8

(a) The rates of citizenship that would be expected if the population had the same age and period of residence profile as the total overseas born population.

Source: 1996 Census of Population and Housing, ABS data available on request.


Between 1949 and 1965, only 4% of citizenship grants were made to former citizens of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Former Italian citizens made up 21% of new citizens in that period, followed by former citizens of the Netherlands (13%), the then USSR and Poland (both 12%).

In the late 1960s, former citizens of the United Kingdom and Ireland increased their take-up of Australian citizenship and represented 10% of grants of citizenship between 1965 and 1970, third after former Italian citizens (21%) and former Greek citizens (13%). In the 1970s, legislative changes concerning applications for citizenship and visa requirements affected Commonwealth citizens in Australia. Since then, the United Kingdom and Ireland have consistently been the largest source of new Australian citizens: about 31% of all citizenship grants since 1970 have been to people from these countries. In 1999-2000, 22% of citizenship grants were to people from the United Kingdom and Ireland while 11% were to people from China (table 5.55).

5.55 FORMER NATIONALITY, People Granted Australian Citizenship - 1999-2000

Citizenship
no.
%

British
14,592
20.6
Chinese(a)
7,664
10.8
New Zealander
6,676
9.4
Vietnamese
3,441
4.9
Indian
2,381
3.4
Filipino
2,349
3.3
South African
2,253
3.2
Iraqi
1,853
2.6
Sri Lankan
1,832
2.6
Bosnian-Herzegovinian
1,531
2.2
Fijian
1,379
1.9
Malaysian
1,154
1.6
Yugoslavia (Federal Republic of)
1,099
1.6
Taiwanese
1,084
1.5
American(b)
989
1.4
Lebanese
859
1.2
Indonesian
844
1.2
Korean
768
1.1
Turkish
766
1.1
Iranian
755
1.1
Irish
698
1.0
Canadian
654
0.9
Cambodian
647
0.9
Italian
633
0.9
Yugoslavia (former)
614
0.9
Pakistani
596
0.8
Thai
541
0.8
Croatian
535
0.8
Maltese
456
0.6
Somali
449
0.6
Afghan
444
0.6
Russian Federation
423
0.6
Bangladeshi
410
0.6
Singaporean
370
0.5
Ukrainian
367
0.5
Polish
363
0.5
Macedonian
352
0.5
German
331
0.5
Portuguese (incl. Macau)
316
0.4
Egyptian
311
0.4
Myanmar (citizens of Burma)
309
0.4
Sudanese
298
0.4
French
283
0.4
Greek
252
0.4
Other nationalities
4,903
6.9
Stateless
525
0.7
Not stated/other
487
0.7
Total
70,836
100.0

(a) People’s Republic of China including Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
(b) Citizen of the United States of America including American Samoa.

Source: Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Annual report 1999-2000.


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