Tag: The World/Australia

The new Australian citizenship test: can you really test ‘values’ via multiple choice?

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Alan Tudge shows the guide about Australian Values at a media conference. Photo- SAT

By Alex Relly, Prof. University of Adelaide.

The Morrison government has announced plans to revamp the Australian citizenship test. From November 15, there will be new test questions on “Australian values”.

What does this new, “clear focus” on values involve? And what is the best way to assess values?

How do you become a citizen?
According to the 2007 Australian Citizenship Act, you can become an Australian citizen “by conferral” if you,

have been a resident for four years, with at least one as a permanent resident
have a basic knowledge of English
have adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship
are likely to reside in Australia or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia, and
are of good character.
Since 2007, the English language and “knowledge of Australia” requirements have been established via a “citizenship test”. According to the Department of Home Affairs, applicants between 18 and 59 need to sit the test.

The test is multiple-choice, with 20 questions in English. An applicant must get 15 correct to pass.

It is based on a booklet that includes information on “Australia and its people”, “Australian democratic beliefs, rights and liberties” and a crash course on government and the law. The updated booklet now includes a section on “Australian values”.

How is the test changing?

Last week, acting Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Alan Tudge announced an increased focus on “values”.

Tudge says this will require potential citizens to understand Australian values like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law.

We are asking those who apply for citizenship to understand our values more deeply before they make the ultimate commitment to our nation.

The increased focus requires applicants to get all five test questions on values correct. Applicants also still need to score at least 75% overall.

Why have a test?

Those in favor of a citizenship test argue the burden of having to pass the test gives citizenship greater gravitas. It promotes citizenship as a “privilege” and not a right one acquires through the long-term residence.

But the idea that citizenship should be difficult to achieve is a recent phenomenon in Australia.

In the 1980s and 90s, the federal government ran campaigns to encourage permanent residents to become citizens, so they could fully participate in Australia’s civil and political life. In 1984, the Australian Citizenship Amendment Act reduced the English language requirement for citizenship from “adequate” to “basic”, while applicants over 50 years were exempted from the language requirement.

In 1994, a parliamentary inquiry also recommended the widespread promotion of citizenship.

However, in the 21st century, amid concerns over international terrorism, there has been an emphasis on citizenship as a privilege. In 2015, the Abbott government commissioned Liberal MPs Philip Ruddock and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells to lead a national consultation on citizenship. As their report states,

Overall there remains a strong view in the community that Australian citizenship is a concept worth valuing and certainly worth protecting. While we strongly encourage migrants to become citizens, it is not something that should be earned too easily or given away cheaply.

Can you test values?

Tudge’s press release says the new test will have “more meaningful questions that require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values”.

The booklet provides six pages of information on our values, which includes statements such as, “Australians value ‘mateship’. We help each other in times of need”. And, “in Australia, the lawful actions of the police should be supported.” It also notes, “it is important to learn to speak English.”

This is an example of a practice question on values:

Which of these statements best demonstrates Australian values about freedom of expression?

a) everyone can peacefully express their opinions within the law

b) people with different views from me need to keep quiet

c) only approved topics can be discussed.

There are significant reasons to doubt the usefulness of these questions as part of the criteria for citizenship.

Firstly, identifying the correct answer does not necessarily say anything about a person’s actual values. Most people can spot examples of freedom and equality, regardless of whether they are committed to them.

Secondly, if people get an answer wrong, it is likely to say more about their English comprehension than their values.

Having said this, there is a role for civics education for citizens and prospective citizens alike. Discussing and comparing values and identifying where they differ across nations and cultures is valuable for the formation of a coherent political community. It is the reduction of these complex questions to a multiple-choice test that is the problem.

Permanent residents already have Australian values

When it comes to the values of citizenship applicants, the government should take comfort in the fact that they have already lived and contributed to the community for at least four years.

In 2014, the government also tightened the “character test” for permanent residents, making their deportation mandatory if they have been sentenced to imprisonment for a year or more.

Since last year, it has also had legislation before parliament to make it even easier to fail the character test over certain “designated offenses”, including sexual assault and aggravated burglary.

So, there are safeguards in place.

Applicants for citizenship are already entitled to live in Australia permanently. They demonstrate their commitment to Australian values through participation in work and community activities, sending their children to school, and obeying the law.

These are more effective ways to demonstrate Australian values than through correctly answering multiple-choice questions.

The changes to the citizenship test are a public relations exercise, consistent with the Coalition government’s use of citizenship as a mechanism of exclusion.

Perhaps it is not surprising these changes have been announced at a time of great uncertainty, when external threats loom large, both across and beyond our borders.

Source- The Conversation, 23 September 2020 (Under Creative Commons Licence)

Daniel Andrews launches “Standing Together” (休戚与共) campaign with Chinese communities to combat challenges arising from the Coronavirus outbreak

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Photo: SAT file

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE,20 February: Iconic Victorian landmarks will be lit up in red and gold and a trade delegation sent to China as part of the Andrews
Labor Government’s show of solidarity with Chinese communities.

Premier Daniel Andrews today launched the 休戚与共 campaign (“Stronger Together”) to combat some of the challenges arising from the COVID-19 outbreak and to urge Victorians to come together in support.

Premier Daniel Andrews says, “We have a long history of standing by our Chinese communities – and that’s what we need to be doing right now.”
We are with you during this challenging time – today, and every day, we are stronger together.”

As part of the push, some of Victoria’s most important buildings – including the Arts Centre, the NGV, the Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Town Hall and Flinders Street Station – will be lit up in red and gold as a symbol of solidarity with Chinese Victorians on Friday.

A number of economic roundtables will bring Chinese community leaders together to share ideas on how to revitalize local businesses and boost trade, with the outbreak already having a significant impact on the hospitality, tourism and international education sectors.

The Labor Government intends to lead a delegation of 100 Victorian businesses to China to further strengthen trade relations.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Richard Wynne says, “As Victorians, we know the only way to respond is with compassion and consideration for each other. To every member of our Chinese community – please know, we stand with you.”

At home, the Government will also host a dinner for the Chinese community – including diplomatic, business and student leaders – paying tribute to the contributions our Chinese communities make to our state every day.

Minister for Jobs, Innovation, and Trade Martin Pakula, “Our partnership with China has helped make our state stronger and more successful.”
“While our trade, tourism and education engagement is crucial, what matters more are the people to people relationships, and at this difficult time, it’s the people of China we are thinking of.”

A media release says that the stories of the contribution of the Chinese communities will be featured across a number of Government digital platforms, sharing with more Victorians the profound role our Chinese communities have played in shaping our state and our nation.

27,419 to become Australian citizens on A-Day 2020

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 25 January 2020: More than 27,000 people will mark this Australia Day by becoming Australian citizens – the
largest-ever number to make the pledge on 26 January.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs Alan
Tudge congratulated the tens of thousands who are scheduled to attend 454 ceremonies around the nation.

“Australia Day is an opportunity to celebrate our success as a multicultural nation and
reflect on what it means to be an Australia,” Mr. Tudge said.

“Citizenship is a chance for new migrants to make a pledge to uphold our laws and values
and contribute to our cohesive, open and inclusive society.

“A citizenship ceremony is an important event in every new citizens’ life and being able to
attend one on Australia Day adds extra significance.”

Australia Day is the most popular day for people to attend a citizenship ceremony, with
100,000 people becoming Australian citizens on our national day in the past six years.
In September 2019, the Morrison Government amended the Australian Citizenship
Ceremonies Code to require councils to hold a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day.

Every council required to hold a ceremony is doing so and almost 140 councils who would
be exempt under the code have chosen to hold a ceremony anyway.
“This is the first time we are requiring councils to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia
Day,” Mr. Tudge said.

“We want them to do the right thing as it is the most popular day for new migrants to
become an Aussie. This is the day that all of us can celebrate, whether born here or only
just becoming a citizen.”

The Government reached out to all councils affected by the recent bushfires, but all have
indicated they are going ahead with their ceremonies in recognition of their importance to
new citizens and the wider community.

More than 106,000 people have been welcomed as new Australian citizens in the last six
months.

Between 1 July and 31 December 2019, 106,704 people were conferred with Australian
citizenship, up from 48,983 in the same period in 2018, says a media release.

All citizenship applications are processed against a range of strengthened integrity
measures, introduced by the Government in 2015.

As bushfires ravage Australia, activists target Australian missions & Siemens globally to highlight climate emergency

Climate-2 final
Photo- Supplied.

By SAT News Desk

January 16th, 2020 – As Australia suffers devastating bushfires, Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate activists in over 35 countries are holding solidarity actions with Extinction Rebellion Australia’s Bushfire Rebellion outside Australian embassies and consulates for the second week in a row. Countries, including Nigeria, Zambia, Netherlands, Argentina, Uganda and Spain. Extinction Rebellion India, meanwhile, has been warned by local police not to protest.

The borderless, nonviolent rebellion comes in response to the Australian government’s climate inaction and exacerbation of the climate crisis which has led to the catastrophic bushfire crisis.

The catastrophic mega blaze has already led to what scientists are describing as an ecosystem and species apocalypse in Australia. Some estimates state that up to 700 animal species have had their populations decimated – with many species likely to be pushed to extinction including the Long-footed potaroo, the Greater glider, the Kangaroo Island dunnart, and the Black-tailed dusky antechinus, being obliterated from the face of the Earth.

“It would seem the only people willing to dismiss the scientific correlation between the bushfire crisis and the climate crisis are those massaged by the fossil fuel industry in the Australian government and those who believe the propaganda of fossil fuel-interested media,” said Extinction Rebellion Sydney spokesperson Larissa Payne.

While we are on the verge of triggering a climatic point of no return, German company Siemens agreed to participate in the development of the world’s largest coal mine. Siemens will supply the signage technology for the railway line of the Carmichael coal mine in Galilee Basin, Australia, quite literally signaling the way to the destruction of life on the Planet.

“Instead of demonstrating climate leadership and turning its back on one of the many culprits, it chooses to of quite literally fuel fires around the world, despite warnings from several environmental groups, ongoing protests, and over 60 companies pulling out of the project. Siemens undoubtedly places profit over the planet,” explains XR Germany spokesperson Annemarie Botski.

Meanwhile, companies from around the world display similar callousness for life on Earth, even as the island continent’s species go extinct, “In the same line, the Adani business group has obtained approvals for extracting coal from the Carmichael coal mines in Australia. Fighting to saving our planet has rightly turned global because of the impact of forest fires in Brazil, floods in Indonesia or fires in Australia are already being felt all across our Earth. Such tragedies will only increase in intensity and in terms of numbers,” says Extinction Rebellion India’s Jeevesh Gupta.

“It is believed several animal and plant species have been rendered extinct in the past few weeks. An estimated over half a billion animals have died in this disaster. Much of the severity of conditions in the southern parts of Australia can be attributed to massive amounts of land clearing in the past century, leading to loss of rainfall, and no consultation or respect by governments of the original Australians’ intact knowledge of caring for and maintaining the land,” laments Australian First Nation spiritual leader Nick Tree.

The fires sweeping the country have also pumped out an estimated 400 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, further fueling climate change that has already intensified Australia’s devastating fires. This is equivalent to the total combined annual emissions of 116 low-emitting countries and nine times the amount of carbon produced during California’s record-setting 2018 fire season.

“The climate crisis cares nothing for borders. We need coordinated, international action to combat this mess. The Bushfire Rebellion is only the beginning. Two-thirds of Australians want the government to declare a climate emergency and mobilize at the World-war scale. We are living through the tipping point that the scientists have been warning us about – anything less than an emergency response condemns out children to an unlivable future,” concludes XR Australia spokesperson Jane Morton

Actions will be held on the 16th and 17th January as a continuation of actions on the 10th of January in the following countries:

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany – Berlin, Hamburg, Hungary, India, Indonesia – Bali, Italy, Japan, Nigeria,
Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand – Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Poland, Portugal,
Scotland, Spain – Asturias, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Murcia, South Africa, Sweden,
Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom – Bristol, London, Lambeth, United States – Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC. and Zambia.

Source of information & photos: Extinction Rebellion, Australia.

Ten volunteers from the ‘Officer Sikh Gurudwara’ honoured with the 2019 Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards

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Awardees and their families at the Government House. Photo: Supplied.

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 1 December: Ten volunteers from the Sikh temple in Officer are now proud Volunteer Champions. These Volunteer Champions from the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar (SGND)- the Officer Sikh Gurudwara, Officer are among the 57 recipients of the 2019 Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards who were honoured at Government House on 1 December 2019 for their unwavering passion, commitment and dedication to serve. The awards were presented by the Governor of Victoria, The Honourable Linda Dessau AC at the Government House.

While presenting the award, the group received a warm and commending mention which says, “Going beyond their mandate of ‘a place of worship’, the Officer Sikh temple has undertaken several social cohesion activities that have created bridges of trust between multi-cultural communities. This group has showcased how sharing and caring can win hearts”.

The recipients were Madhu Bhatia, Navpreet Dhanoa, Ramandeep Kang, Harjinder Kaur, Harjit (Ravneet) Kaur, Brijai Parikh, Randeep Saini, Avtar Singh, Manjinder Singh, and Ramneet Kaur Walia.

The ‘Officer Sikh Gurudwara’ has been active through its volunteers this year by providing free meals to BlazeAid volunteers, collecting donations for Bunyip bushfire relief and contributing hay to the Need for Feed movement, tree plantation, participating in different local and state functions, organising prayers for families affected by bushfires, Christchurch attacks and Sri Lankan church attacks, providing food donations to 4Cs and Baptist Church among others.

A media release from the Officer Sikh temple says, “To weave unconditional love in the very foundation of all the activities. Noteworthy is that SGND does not have any formal committee. It is run by a group of volunteers who work in diverse professions Most of these volunteers have young families and still manage to dedicate a significant amount of their after-work hours to help with every day running.”

The ‘Officer Sikh Gurudwara’ is situated at 33 Officer Road, Officer, Victoria 3809. And can be contacted at 0447028688 or info@sgnd.com.au. Website is – www.sgnd.com.au