18 May 2009

Hazara refugees tackling Australian citizenship head-on

Hazara refugees emigrating to Australia have proven their commitment to the Australian community by putting in all their effort into passing the Australian citizenship test.

Hazara refugees have been emigrating to Australia for many years now, in order to escape persecution in Afghanistan and start a new, fulfilling and peaceful life in Australia.  After settling themselves in the Australian lifestyle – which would be a far cry from the harsh environment they would be used to in the mountains of central Afghanistan – Hazara refugees have proven their drive to become an Australian and become the most determined group of refugees to get their Australian citizenship, reports The National.

According to the newspaper, Hazaras living in Australia have lower rates of employment than other asylum seekers because they are busily studying the Australian way of life and the English language, so that they may have their Australian citizenship awarded. 

"We can see among Hazaras two intentions," said an Australian citizenship course tutor Ali Yunespour, a refugee Hazara who emigrated to Australia in 2005.

"The first reason is because everyone is in a process of transition when they move from one country to another, they want to make themselves ready for the life they want to start in Australia.

"The second reason is that a lot of these people have relatives overseas that they also have to support."

The pathway to Australian citizenship has recently been made harder for people emigrating to Australia, so that people are forced to understand the Australian community before they are accepted as a citizen.  In 2007, an Australian citizenship test was introduced, which hopeful citizens would need to pass by 60 per cent in order to gain their citizenship.  The test is open for re-sitting as many times as needed, and involves questions regarding sport, lifestyle, government, and basic Australian values.

"I think the test is not only hard but for most of them it seems impossible because the English language has hard technical concepts," said Mr Yunespour.

Parvin Hosseini, a Hazara refugee attending Mr Yunespour's class said that while the life in Australia is like living a totally world to what she is used to, she is determined to pass the citizenship test and become an acknowledged part of Australian society.

"The hardest thing for me is the language here. I can’t read or speak English.  There are cultural differences between the two countries, but having escaped the war I still prefer it here than Afghanistan because it is more safe and secure.

"Hazara people are an honest group. We want to learn a lot and to control our own lives."

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

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