On 26 January 2019, we mark 70 years since Australian citizenship was introduced into law, creating for the first time a legal status of being uniquely Australian.
The Department of Home Affairs is celebrating the diverse stories of our citizens, the values that we share and the history we create together.
Prashant—helping the ACT stay healthy
As a medical scientist, Prashant is helping to enhance the health and wellbeing of the ACT community.
Receiving his citizenship in 2018, he is one of Australia’s newest citizens, but has been a positive influence in his community since he arrived in Australia in 2010.
Prashant believes Australian citizenship is a two-way commitment, saying he is ready to take on the responsibility of becoming an Australian citizen.
Edna—caring for the elderly in her community
Edna has always loved helping people. Since coming to Australia from the Philippines in 2011, Edna has worked as a carer at an aged care facility. She says she wants to give back to those who have fought to protect Australia and the rights and freedoms we enjoy.
Edna chose to become a citizen because of the great opportunities Australia offers, and is committed to serving the Australian community in return.
In her spare time she is a member of her church choir, singing songs in both English and Tagalog. She says she loves being part of the church community because it is welcoming to everyone.
History of Australian citizenship
The first Australian citizenship ceremony was held on 3 February 1949, with seven men—representing each Australian state and territory, like the Commonwealth Star on our flag— swearing their allegiance to this great nation. They hailed from Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and Yugoslavia. Despite their varied backgrounds, they were united by their commitment to Australian values—equality of opportunity, mutual respect and tolerance, freedom of speech and religion, and commitment to democracy and Australian law.
Other important milestones in the history of Australian citizenship include:
- 1959—First spike of people becoming Australian citizens, increasing from less than 5000 in 1954 to more than 49,000.
Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 is renamed the
Citizenship Act 1948-69 and includes reduced residency requirements.
Citizenship Act 1948-69 is renamed the
Australian Citizenship Act 1973 and preferential treatment for British subjects is removed. The same residency, good character, and language requirements applied equally to everyone.
- 1984—Australia repeal laws that made our citizens subjects of the United Kingdom.
- 1989—The 'Year of Citizenship' with more than 130,000 people becoming Australian citizens.
- 1999—The affirmation was introduced to citizenship ceremonies, allowing all citizens to publically share their pride at becoming Australian and their commitment to our values.
- 2001—Australian Citizenship Day was introduced. 17 September was chosen as the date, representing the anniversary (in 1973) of the renaming of the Citizenship Act to the Australian Citizenship Act.
- 2002—Dual citizenship provisions adopted allowing new migrants to have their heritage reflected officially.
- 2007—A short, multiple-choice test was introduced, encouraging prospective new citizens to obtain the knowledge they would need to successfully integrate into Australian society, before taking the final step at a citizenship ceremony.
Have you recently become an Australian citizen or know someone who has? Share your citizenship story with us! Include
#AusCitz70 in your social posts and we’ll feature your photos in the feed below.
Congratulations to our newest citizens!