The citizenship test will be updated to include new questions on Australian values and there will be changes to the Adult Migrant English Program.
In a speech delivered at the National Press Club in Canberra, the Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge has indicated changes to Australia’s citizenship test to include new questions on Australian values in a bid to help “protect our social cohesion” into the future.
The minister or the department is yet to outline further details.
“Australian citizenship is both a privilege and a responsibility, and it should be granted to those who support our values, respect our laws, and want to contribute to Australia’s future,” Mr Tudge said.
“We should ensure that those who come here and those who want to settle here clearly understand – and are willing to commit to – the shared common values that unite us all as Australians” Mr Tudge added.
But some people believe, it is going to be like old wine in new bottles.
“It takes a whole lot of courage to tackle issues of concern when it comes to Australia’s social cohesion and to protect it from erosion. Modern day name-calling is employed. The underlying attitude is – how can you find fault with anyone?” questions D. Kumar who says he has seen it all, many times earlier.
“While the attempted updates will serve a lip-service or ‘theoretical’ purpose, it is high time Australia look at the issue of and policies relating to its much hyped and ‘bought’ and ‘sold’ at elections – multiculturalism. Those who seriously tried in the past – have been relegated to the pages of history in Australian politics”, he added.
It has also been flagged that the Australian Values Statement, which is signed by temporary and permanent migrants and citizenship applicants, would also be updated.
“There are practical difficulties which neither the bureaucrats in their high-rise fully air-conditioned offices factor in, nor their subordinates on the ground see it serious enough to report it for future action when it comes to policy making.For instance, the very people who sign on the Australian Values Statement policy document including a ‘fair play’ and ‘equality of opportunity’ for, can be seen only minutes later jumping the queue for the most insignificant of things, because that’s what they have been doing all their lives”, Kumar concluded.
A practical program / approach to encourage people to adopt the ‘fairness and equality’ (and other values) of Australian society needs to be developed.
The minister also outlined potential changes to the billion-dollar Adult Migrant English Program.
The program is funded to provide migrants with 510 hours of free language tuition but people on average complete on 300 hours.
“Only 21 per cent leave with a functional level of English,” Mr Tudge said.
According to Mr Tudge the level of foreign interference in Australia was at an unprecedented high.
“Every sector of our community is a potential target, including parliamentarians, their staff, and all levels of government, the media, opinion makers, business leaders and the university community,” he said.
The minister said he was particularly concerned about the reach in multicultural communities.
“Members of our diverse communities have been both victims of interference and used as vectors to engage in foreign interference,” he said.
“Despite now being proud Australians, some communities are still seen by their former home countries as ‘their diaspora’ – to be harassed or exploited to further the national cause.
This comes in at a time when the Prime Minister has already indicated legislating to have the veto power to stop any state or territory doing any deals – which are considered to be not in Australia’s interest.
As far potential Aussies, preparing for the Citizenship Test will definitely be more involving.