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Celebrating citizenship


History of citizenship

At the first Australian citizenship ceremony in 1949, seven men—like the Commonwealth Star on our flag, to represent each Australian state and territory—who hailed from Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and Yugoslavia swore their allegiance to this great nation.

Despite their varied backgrounds, they were united by their commitment to Australian values—equality of opportunity, mutual respect and tolerance, freedom of speech and religion, and commitment to democracy and Australian law.

Below is a timeline of important milestones in the history of Australian citizenship.




First spike of people becoming Australian citizens, increasing from less than 5,000 in 1954 to more than 49,000.




The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 is renamed the Citizenship Act 1948-69 and includes reduced residency requirements.




The Citizenship Act is renamed the Australian Citizenship Act and preferential treatment for British subjects is removed. The same residency, good character, and language requirements applied equally to everyone.




Australia repeal laws that made our citizens subjects of the United Kingdom.




The affirmation was introduced to citizenship ceremonies, allowing all citizens to publically share their pride at becoming Australian and their commitment to our values.




Australian Citizenship Day was introduced. 17 September was chosen as the date, representing the anniversary (in 1973) of the renaming of the Citizenship Act to the Australian Citizenship Act.




Dual citizenship provisions adopted allowing new migrants to have their heritage reflected officially.




A short, multiple-choice test was introduced, encouraging prospective new citizens to obtain the knowledge they would need to successfully integrate into Australian society, before taking the final step at a citizenship ceremony.