For most people the last step to becoming an Australian Citizen is to make the Australian Citizenship Pledge at an Australian Citizenship Ceremony. These ceremonies provide an important opportunity to officially welcome new citizens as full members of the Australian community and have become an integral part of Australia Day celebrations. Since the first Australian Citizenship Ceremony in 1949, more than four million people have chosen to become Australian citizens.
- Citizenship ceremonies have both personal and legal dimensions. Citizenship brings with it significant rights and responsibilities, including the right to vote, stand for public office, and travel on an Australian passport.
- Before the ceremony begins each candidate should receive an Australian Citizenship Pledge card, displaying the words of the pledge of commitment as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia.
- In keeping with other Commonwealth official occasions, the following national symbols must be present in a citizenship ceremony.
- Commonwealth Coat of Arms and portrait of the Queen
- The Australian National Flag
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags may be displayed
- Australian National Anthem must be played at the end of the ceremony.
- When the minister attends a ceremony, he/she must be invited to speak immediately after the opening address, before any other official speeches.
- It is not a legal requirement that:
- Australian citizenship certificates be presented to candidates attending a ceremony, or
- Australian citizenship certificates be presented by the presiding officer or other authorising officers.
However, both of these are common practice.
- The department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) encourages incorporating Indigenous elements into a citizenship ceremony. If a local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is not in attendance to perform a welcome to country the presiding officer or other appropriate person should publicly acknowledge the traditional owners of the land where the ceremony is taking place.
It is important to note when using the Citizenship and Affirmation Ceremonies Tool that all Citizenship Ceremonies are administered by the DIBP. There are clear protocols which must be followed in relation to Citizenship ceremonies. You can find more information here: http://www.citizenship.gov.au/_pdf/australian-citizenship-ceremonies-code.pdf