24 November 2008

New focus for Australian Citizenship Test confirmed by govt

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The Rudd Government has confirmed the Australian Citizenship Test would have a new focus following a review by a committee.

The Minster for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the Pledge of Commitment would become the new focus for prospective Australian citizens who have made the move to Australia.

The questions will concentrate on the responsibilities pledged by new citizens in the citizenship ceremony, rather than general questions about Australian culture, history and everyday life.

"The Australian Citizenship Test Review Committee made the valid point that an understanding of our civic responsibilities and what it means to be a citizen is of fundamental importance to all citizens, whether we are Australian by birth or by choice," Senator Evans said in a statement.

Commissioned experts will rewrite and divide the citizenship resource book into testable and non-testable sections, with general information regarding Australian culture and history provided as a supplement in the non-testable section.

Further, the Government decided to raise the pass mark by 15 per cent to 75 per cent, and remove mandatory questions.

The Government has refused, however, the committee's recommendation to provide the test in a language other than English.  They also did not accept the recommendation of publishing the test questions or the concept of earned citizenship, as this would ultimately create classes of citizenship.

"Raising the pass mark will ensure we have A-grade citizens who understand our democratic beliefs and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship," the Minister said.  "Citizenship is of fundamental importance to us all and is a critical factor in nation-building in our culturally diverse society."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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