Publish Date: Aug 22, 2014
A new partnership is making it easier for people in some rural parts of Australia to take the citizenship test.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Human Services announced a new partnership on August 19.
The collaboration means that people living in certain rural areas will be able to sit the Australian Citizenship test at their local Medicare Service Centre or Centrelink.
Approximately 14,000 citizenship tests are taken in rural areas a year out of the some 125,000 citizenship tests taken annually. Weekly testing will now be conducted at 29 service centres throughout Australia. This will result in up to 280 more tests being taken a week.
Previously, if you did not live in a central area you would have to travel to a capital city to take the test or wait for staff from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to visit your region. This usually happened on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
The partnership between the two departments started out as a trial two years ago in seven sites. There are six Centrelink and Medicare service centres in New South Wales.
What does it mean to become an Australian citizen?
You will need to apply to become an Australian citizen. You must meet certain eligibility requirements to be granted citizenship. Examples of the requirements include your place of birth and time spent in Australia (for example, British and New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for a long time may be eligible) and whether your parents were Australian citizens.
As part of the citizenship ceremony you will need to affirm that you share in Australia's democratic beliefs, freedoms and equalities.
If you are granted Australian citizenship you will have new privileges and responsibilities. The privileges are benefits that you will be entitled to from the Australian government and responsibilities refer to what will now be required from you as a citizen.
Privileges include being able to: vote in elections and referendums, be elected into parliament, work in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) or the Australian public service, apply for an Australian passport and register your children as Australian citizens by descent if they were born overseas. You will also be given assistance overseas by an Australian official should you need it.
With privilege comes responsibility and you will need to make sure you vote as this is not optional in Australia. You must also complete jury duty if you are called upon, obey Australian laws and defend Australia if it is needed.
If you have immigrated to Australia and have questions about citizenships or your current rights you can talk to a migration lawyer.