1289.0 - Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity, 1999  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/11/1999   
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Contents >> Australian Citizenship >> Underlying concepts

Name of variable

6. The standard name of the variable is Australian Citizenship.

Definition of variable

Nominal definition

7. The Australian Citizenship Act 1948 determines who holds Australian citizenship. Australian citizenship is a person's status in relation to Australia and carries with it certain responsibilities and privileges. A person may acquire Australian citizenship in a number of ways, for example, by birth, adoption, descent, resumption or grant of Australian citizenship (naturalisation).

8. Australian Citizenship is an attribute of the counting unit 'person'. That is, it is an attribute of an individual as opposed to a family or household.

Operational definition

9. The operational definition for Australian Citizenship is the same as the nominal definition. The accuracy with which it is measured depends on the respondent's understanding of the question. Proof of Australian citizenship could only be confirmed by sighting appropriate documentation. Asking people to provide documentation, however, is neither practical nor appropriate in self-enumerated and interview-based surveys.

Discussion of conceptual issues

10. The most important conceptual issue associated with Australian Citizenship is whether a respondent understands that citizenship represents a person's legal status in relation to Australia. The legal requirements determining citizenship are complex and liable to change over time. For example, with the exception of children of foreign diplomats, people born in Australia before 20 August 1986 acquired Australian citizenship. After that date, a person born in Australia acquires citizenship only if:

      • at least one parent, at the time of the person's birth, was either an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia; or
      • neither parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the person's birth, but the person has been ordinarily resident in Australia from the time of birth until his or her tenth birthday.

11. Although 'Australian Citizenship' is not directly related to any variable, it can be used in conjunction with other "ethnicity" variables, eg. Country of Birth of Person and Year of Arrival in Australia. This is because 'Australian Citizenship', for those born overseas, is an indirect measure of participation in Australian society.

12. Besides the collection of Australian Citizenship data using the standard question, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) produces citizenship data based on Australian overseas arrivals and departures administrative data collected by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA). All people arriving in, or departing from, Australia are required to complete prescribed questionnaires in the form of Incoming and Outgoing Passenger cards. These cards provide information to DIMA for administrative purposes and serve as the source of statistics on overseas arrivals and departures. In some cases, pre-recorded visa data is used in lieu of passenger card data by DIMA. Citizenship is derived from responses given to the question 'Nationality as shown in Passport'. Data on 'Australian Citizenship' of overseas arrivals and departures are therefore not necessarily comparable with data collected using the standard question module, as some travellers may have dual citizenship and travel using a passport that is not Australian.

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