17 September 2008

Gina Giraffe: the new mascot for Australian citizenship education

A brand new citizenship education kit for school children was released today by the Australian government. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) made the announcement that Gina Giraffe would be educating children nationwide to coincide with Australian Citizenship Day 2008 (17 September).

Gina Giraffe will feature in fictional stories that will teach young school children on an Australian visa about the path to citizenship and the role of citizens in Australian society.  Gina Giraffe will be accompanied by Tilly Bilby, Pledge Platypus and Benjiro Bear.

3,000 secondary schools and 8,000 primary schools will receive the new kit, which will include puzzles, games, quizzes and online tasks. 

"Children will follow Gina as she prepares to be a citizen, learns about Australia, takes the pledge, enrols to vote and applies for a passport," said DIAC Secretary Andrew Metcalfe. 

"Everybody is welcome to participate in an affirmation ceremony and celebrate Australian citizenship – it is not just for Australian citizens.  Citizenship Day is an opportunity for all Australians to think about what it means to be Australian and celebrate our democratic values, equality and respect for each other," he added.

There are many ways non-Australians can attain Australian citizenship.  Australian immigrants who have been lawfully resident in Australia for four years before applying and have spent 12 months as a permanent resident can apply for citizenship (provided they have spent no longer than 12 months outside of Australia during this time and no more than three months offshore in the 12 months before applying).  People born to Australian citizens or in Papua can apply for citizenship, as well as New Zealand citizens.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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