65th anniversary of Australian citizenship

65th anniversary of Australian citizenship logo

2014 marked the 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship.

On 26 January 1949 the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect creating the new status of Australian citizen. Prior to this, most people living in Australia were known as British subjects. This important piece of legislation meant that for the first time we could truly call ourselves Australians.

The first Australian citizenship ceremony took place at Albert Hall in Canberra on 3 February 1949. Seven men, one representing each state of Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, became citizens at this ceremony. The men were from Greece, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Spain, Czechoslovakia, France and Norway.


First new Australian citizens following the inaugural naturalisation ceremony in 1949. 

First new Australian citizens following the inaugural naturalisation ceremony in 1949.


During 1949, almost 2500 people from more than 35 countries became Australian citizens at ceremonies. Most were migrants from Italy, Poland, Greece, Germany and Yugoslavia.

Since the first citizenship ceremony 65 years ago, 4.6 million people have chosen to become Australian citizens.

In 2012-13 more than 3200 citizenship ceremonies took place across the nation with approximately 123 000 people becoming Australian citizens. The top five countries of previous citizenship were the United Kingdom, India, Philippines, China and South Africa.

Australia has been built by the combined contributions of Indigenous Australians and generations of migrants and their descendants. While we come from a diverse range of backgrounds, we share a common future as Australians.

How you got involved

The 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship was celebrated in 2014 on social media with #AusPledge.

  • Messages, photos and videos were added to an anniversary e-card
  • Australian citizenship stories, photos and videos were shared on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) using #AusPledge.
  • Watch our miniseries The Pledge on YouTube as we follow the stories of new Australian citizens.

Share your citizenship story


The Pledge – Miguel Maestre


The Pledge – Promo


History of Australian citizenship

1914 United Kingdom National and Status of Aliens Act was adopted by British Commonwealth countries (with the exception of Ireland), providing a common code under which all British subjects had a common status throughout the British Commonwealth.
1946Canada departed from the common code and enacted the Canadian Citizenship Act.
1947Following consultations between Governments of British Commonwealth countries, the UK convened a conference of nationality experts. The key decision was that each Commonwealth country would have its own citizenship law defining its citizens and also declare those citizens to be British subjects.
1948Australia passed legislation, the Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948.
1949The Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on Australia Day, 26 January 1949.
1949The first Australian citizenship ceremony was held on 3 February 1949 at Albert Hall, Canberra.

Did you know…

Notable Australian citizenship conferees of the past include:

  • ground-breaking medical specialists Professor Fiona Wood and Professor Fred Hollows
  • authors Bryce Courtney and John M. Coetzee
  • ballet dancer and author Li Cunxin
  • performers Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham
  • actress and voice artisit Miriam Margolyes
  • celebrity chef Miguel Maestre.