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Australian Citizenship Standard

Australian Citizenship is the variable which describes whether or not people are Australian citizens

Reference period
2014, Version 1.2
Released
26/05/2014
Next release Unknown
First release

Introduction

Australian Citizenship is the variable which describes whether or not people are Australian citizens.

A question on nationality was first asked in the 1921 Census of Population and Housing. Respondents were required to indicate of which nation they were subjects by means of birthplace, parentage or naturalisation. From 1933 to 1976, nationality was asked. From 1976, the question has used the term 'Citizenship'. In the 1981 Census, respondents were required to state their country of citizenship, whereas the 1986, and subsequent Australian Censuses, Census questions asked only whether the person was an Australian citizen.

Australian citizenship data for Statistical Area 1's (SA1s) or Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs) are only available from the Census. Citizenship data at these lower geographic levels is regarded as essential by organisations such as the Australian Electoral Commission, various state electoral commissions and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) . Small area data on Australian citizenship enables the tracking of migration patterns of Australian citizens over time, gives an accurate indication of what proportion of the population is on the electoral roll and, from this latter information, enables electoral boundary redistribution.

Australian citizenship data is also collected for the purpose of assessing the number of people who are not Australian citizens but who may be residentially eligible to apply for citizenship.

Underlying concepts

Name of variable

The standard name of the variable is Australian Citizenship.

Definition of variable

Nominal definition

The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 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).

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

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

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.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has provided the following explanatory script which will assist in informing respondents to the standard question:

You are an Australian citizen if:

  • you were born in Australia or one of its territories prior to 19 August 1986 (unless your parent was a foreign diplomat);
  • you were born in Australia or one of its territories on or after 20 August 1986 and at least one of your parents was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of your birth (see below *);
  • you were born overseas to an Australian citizen parent/s, and you applied for and were granted Australian citizenship by descent;
  • you were adopted overseas by Australian citizen parent/s in accordance with full Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption arrangements, and you applied for and were granted Australian citizenship by full Hague adoption;
  • you have applied for, or were included in your parent's application, and have been granted Australian citizenship;
  • you were legally adopted in Australia on or after 22 November 1984 by Australian citizen parent/s, and you were in Australia as a permanent resident at the time of your adoption.
     

* if you were born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986, but did not acquire Australian citizenship at birth, you automatically acquired Australian citizenship on your 10th birthday if you lived in Australia for a period of ten years from the day you were born.

For some interview purposes (e.g. telephone interview) a truncated version of the recommended script may be more appropriate but should include the following concepts:

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
  • if you were born in Australia but did not acquire Australian citizenship at birth, you automatically acquired Australian citizenship on your 10th birthday if you lived in Australia for a period of ten years from the day you were born.
  • If you were born overseas and you have been granted citizenship
     

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 Border Protection (DIBP). 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 DIBP 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 DIBP. 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.

Classification and coding

​​​​​​​The classification criteria

The classification criterion is whether or not a person meets the requirements for Australian citizenship, as set out in The Australian Citizenship Act 2007, and is eligible to call themselves an Australian citizen. The categories of the classification are constructed by dividing the population into two groups - those who are Australian Citizens and those who are not Australian Citizens.

The standard classification

The standard classification for Australian Citizenship is a flat or single-level classification consisting of two categories, as follows:

  • Australian Citizen
  • Not an Australian Citizen
     

​​​​​​​The code structure

The code structure for the classification is:

  1. Australian Citizen
  2. Not an Australian Citizen
     

Supplementary codes

The following supplementary code is used to code inadequately described responses and non-responses:

0 Not stated/Inadequately described

Coding indexes

See standard input categories under Collection methods.

Scope of the variable

The variable Australian Citizenship applies to all persons.

Application of the variable to other classifications

The Australian Citizenship classification is not applicable to any other variable.

Coding procedures

Responses to the Australian Citizenship question are self coded to the classification.

Collection methods

​​​​​​​Question module

The standard question module for determining Australian Citizenship follows:

Q1. [Are you] [is the person] [is (name)] an Australian citizen?


The standard question is recommended for all household based surveys, whether self enumerated or interview based, and other statistical and administrative collections.

Standard input categories

The standard input categories for Australian Citizenship are the same as the standard classification and also includes the supplementary category, 'Not stated/Inadequately described':

  • Australian Citizen
  • Not an Australian Citizen
  • Not stated/Inadequately described

Output

The standard output categories for Australian Citizenship data are the same as the standard classification and may include the supplementary category, if applicable:

  • Australian Citizen
  • Not an Australian Citizen
  • Not stated/Inadequately described
     

It is recognised, however, that the output category names may be too long for some uses. Therefore, it is permissible to abbreviate the output category labels, where no confusion would arise, as follows:

  • Australian
  • Not Australian
  • Not stated

Measurement issues and related classification

Measurement issues

See subsection Operational definition in Underlying concepts.

Related classification

There are no related classifications.

Appendix - references

Show all

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011 Census Dictionary, Cat. no. 2901.0, ABS, Canberra, 2011.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Cat. no. 3401.0, ABS, Canberra.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity, Cat. no. 1289.0, ABS, Canberra, 1999.
  • The Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 1200.0.55.010.