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Citizenship interview and test

Transcript of Episode 3 - Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights and liberties

At the citizenship ceremony, you pledge that you will share Australia’s democratic beliefs and respect its rights and liberties. When you become an Australian citizen, you will have additional responsibilities and privileges.

In this section, there is information about:

  • our democratic beliefs
  • our freedoms
  • our equalities
  • the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship, and
  • participating in Australian society.

Our democratic beliefs - parliamentary democracy

Australia’s system of government is a parliamentary democracy.

Australian citizens vote for people to represent them in parliament.

The representatives in parliament must answer to the people, through elections, for the decisions they make.

The Rule of Law

All Australians are equal under the law. The Rule of Law means that no person, group or religious rule is above the law. Everyone must obey Australia’s laws.

Living peacefully

Australians are proud to live in a peaceful country with a stable system of government.

Australians believe that change should occur through discussion, peaceful persuasion, and the democratic process. We reject violence as a way to change a person’s mind or the law.

Respect for all individuals regardless of background

All Australians are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect, regardless of their:

  • race
  • country of origin
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • marital status
  • age
  • disability
  • heritage
  • culture
  • politics
  • wealth, or
  • religion.

Our Freedoms

Freedom of speech and Freedom of expression

Freedom of speech means people can say and write what they think and discuss their ideas with others.  For example, people can criticise the government, protest peacefully against government decisions and campaign to change laws, so long as at all times they are still obeying Australian laws.

Freedom of expression means people can express their views through art, film, music and literature. At all times, the laws of Australia must be obeyed and we must respect other people’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Freedom of association

Freedom of association is the right to form and join associations to pursue common goals. For example, in Australia people are free to join any legal organisation, such as a political party, trade union, religious, cultural or social group.

People can also decide not to join, and cannot be forced into doing so. At all times, the laws of Australia must be obeyed.

Freedom of religion

Australia’s government is secular. This means that Australia has no official national religion.

At all times, even while engaging in religious practices, the laws of Australia must be obeyed. Where there is a conflict between an Australian law and a religious practice, Australian law prevails.

People in Australia are free to follow any religion they choose. They may also choose not to follow a religion.

Our Equalities

There are a number of laws in Australia that ensure a person is not treated differently to others because of their gender, race, disability or age.

Gender Equality

Men and women have equal rights in Australia. It is against the law to discriminate against a person because of their gender.

Equality of opportunity and a 'fair go'

Australians value equal opportunity in our society; what is often called a ‘fair go’.

This means that what someone achieves in life should be a result of their talents, work and effort.

Responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship

When you become an Australian citizen, you will have additional responsibilities and privileges.

Responsibilities of Australian citizenship - Obey the law

All Australian citizens and other people in Australia must obey the laws of Australia.

Voting in federal and state or territory elections, and in a referendum

Voting is an important responsibility, right and privilege for all Australian citizens aged 18 years or over.

This includes voting in federal and state or territory elections, and in a referendum, which is a vote to change the Australian Constitution.

By doing this, Australian citizens have a say in how Australia is governed and contribute to its future. Voting is compulsory in federal and state or territory elections.

Defend Australia should the need arise

While service in the Australian Defence Force is voluntary, it is a responsibility for Australian citizens to defend Australia should the need arise.

Serve on a jury if called to do so

A jury consists of a group of ordinary Australian citizens aged 18 years or over.

They listen to the evidence in some court cases and decide if a person is guilty or not.

Australian citizens who are on the electoral roll can be called to serve on a jury.

Privileges of Australian citizenship

Apply for work in the Australian Public Service and the Australian Defence Force

A privilege of Australian citizenship is to apply for a job in the Australian Public Service and work for the Australian Government, for example in Services Australia or the Australian Taxation Office.

Australian citizens are also able to apply for a job in the Australian Defence Force.

Seek election to parliament

Australian citizens who are aged 18 years or over, and who are not dual citizens, can seek election to parliament at the federal, state or territory level.

Apply for an Australian passport and re-enter Australia freely

Australian citizens have the right and privilege to:

  • live freely in Australia
  • apply for an Australian passport, and
  • return to Australia without the need for a visa, following travel overseas.

Ask for Consular assistance from an Australian official while overseas

While overseas, Australian citizens can ask for help from an Australian government official in times of need. Australian officials can:

  • provide help in emergencies such as civil unrest and natural disasters
  • issue an emergency passport, and
  • give advice and support.

Apply for children born overseas to become Australian citizens by descent

Australian citizens can apply for their child born overseas to become an Australian citizen by descent.

Participating in Australian society

Australia encourages all citizens to actively participate in society. Active citizens take on the responsibility and privilege of shaping Australia’s future. This can include, for example:

  • joining neighbourhood and local community organisations
  • volunteering to do social and community work
  • joining an arts or cultural organisation, and
  • actively participating in political life.

By working and paying tax, Australian citizens contribute to society. Paying tax is required by law. Governments use taxes to provide important services such as healthcare and education.