The Australian Government has announced an update to the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code, removing red tape to allow councils to hold Australia Day citizenship ceremonies on or around 26 January.
A number of councils have indicated they will move to no longer hold a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day due to higher operational costs involved in hosting ceremonies on a public holiday. Councils have also indicated they would benefit from scheduling ceremonies as part of a broader program of Australia Day community events.
The Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code sets out the requirements for conducting citizenship ceremonies in accordance with the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth). Prior to this update, councils were required to hold a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day; they will now be able to hold it on 26 January, or on the three days before and after – for 2023, councils will be allowed to hold Australia Day ceremonies in the period from Monday 23 to Sunday 29 January.
This is a pragmatic change in line with the Government’s commitment to efficient processing of citizenship applications and timely ceremonies for new citizens.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles said, “Australian citizenship is an important common bond for all Australians, whether by birth or by choice, and lies at the heart of a unified, cohesive and inclusive Australia. The Government’s priority is to ensure that, where people have made the choice to become Australia citizens, they are afforded that opportunity in their own communities, with friends and family, in a timely way.”
As of 9 December 2022 there were under 98,000 applications on-hand – the first time in more than five years that the number has been below 100,000.
More than 165,000 people have become new citizens in 2022. Of the 60,000 approved applicants currently waiting to attend a ceremony 92 per cent have, to date, been waiting less than six months to attend a citizenship ceremony.
“The Australian Government implores councils to have new citizens as their key focus, recognising that many community members want to complete their journey to Australian citizenship in connection with Australia Day,” Mr Giles said.