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Australian Citizenship Laws: The Past and Present

Becoming an Australian citizen signifies an obligation to Australia and its people. It represents a feeling of belonging since you can play a part in all facets of Australian life. In the year 1948, Nationality & Citizenship Act clearly brought out the status of Australian Citizenship. The act received the Royal Assent on December 21, 1948 and was effective from January 26, 1949. Just 80 years back the court would rule, any person who didn’t come from an Australian origin, to be an alien. Before the year 1949, Australia & United Kingdom used to have a common nationality code along with the other Commonwealth countries.

On January 26, 1949 a separate Australian Citizenship came into picture with the advent of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. Under this Act, the Australian citizens continued to be British subjects; additionally the non-Australian British subjects had a separate standing in law from those people who were not British subjects. However these disparities have now mostly disappeared. Aboriginals also became Australian citizens under the 1948 Act in the same manner as other Australians. This applied in a similar way to Torres Strait Islanders and the inhabitants of the Territory of Papua (which was a part of Australia at that time).

If a child (who is not already an Australian citizen) is born in Australia and is residing in Australia, he/she will automatically be granted Australian citizenship on his/her 10th birthday, in case the child is not already granted with an Australian citizenship by that time. In some circumstances, children born within Australian territory, whose parents are stateless and not entitled to any other country's citizenship, might become listed as Australian citizens.

You can become an Australian citizen in one of three following potential ways

  • 1. By birth: In Australia you involuntarily turn into an Australian citizen if you are born here and if one or both of your parents is an Australian citizen.
  • 2. By descent: In case you are born overseas to Australian citizens you are normally granted Australian citizenship. There are several rules that may apply to persons in this group.
  • 3. By grant: If you are a not originally a citizen of Australia you may apply to become an Australian citizen. In this case you have to meet a number of requirements laid by the Australian government.

A citizen is an element of a state, an enfranchised resident of a nation; a person, naturalised or native, who has the right to vote for public offices, and is entitled to have security in the application of personal rights. Every year, 17 September is celebrated as Australian Citizenship Day. The day is a chance for every Australian to be proud of their citizenship and sense on what it signifies to be Australian. This is also a time to identify and assess the contributions citizens craft within the local communities.

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