Australian citizenship test
The Australian federal government introduced an Australian citizenship test on October 2007. Since then, citizenship applicants have had to pass this test in order to become citizen. A new version of the test was introduced on October 2009, with some significant changes, such as a harder pass mark (75%, as opposed to a previous 60%). So it appears that the Australian government is committed to the citizenship test. Why do we need a citizenship test?
Other countries around the world have introduced citizenship tests. In Europe, Germany, the UK or the Netherlands have all rolled out a citizenship test over the last 10 years.
In North America, both the United States and Canada have a citizenship test. The Canadian test is much harder, with a high failure rate. Governments around the world seem to consider the citizenship test as a very important part of becoming a citizen.
The citizenship test is a good idea. Becoming a citizen of Australia is a privilege, and should come with some understanding of Australia’s culture, history, and political system for example, as well as some understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
The Australian citizenship test is only in English. The reason is to assess the candidate’s level of English. Having a minimum knowledge of English is an important part of the integration process. A newcomer with decent English skills will widen his/her job or business options, will be able to understand official/legal information, and will be able to participate in a broader range of activities.
Naturally a newcomer can survive without speaking English, by living mostly within his/her community. But that is not what seems to be Australia’s view of a harmonious multicultural society. Multiculturalism has a special cultural status in Australia, with National Multicultural Festivals held across the country and Australia Multicultural Policy launched on February 2011. The goal is to affirm the importance of a culturally diverse and socially cohesive nation. Australia is considered as one of the most successful pluralist countries where the government is encouraging communities to increase their level of cultural, economic and social integration. The citizenship test is a step in that direction, assessing whether newcomers have a good understanding of Australia’s identity and values, and a good understanding of what it means to be an Australian citizen.
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