'Citizenship changes deeply unfair, jeopardise Australia’s reputation' - DCA

Memmbers of the public hold flags at an Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and Flag Raising event in Canberra Source: AAP

Diversity Council Australia has told a Senate Inquiry examining the proposed Citizenship Bill that the changes will see Australia lose a great deal of talent.

Changes to Australia’s citizenship legislation would not be conducive for business, the Diversity Council of Australia has told a Senate Inquiry.

The Government, in its proposed citizenship legislation, has introduced a number of changes, including increasing the waiting period for permanent residents for citizenship and a mandatory English language test requiring applicants to demonstrate competent proficiency.

DCA - a not-for-profit workplace diversity and inclusion advisor to business, argues that if the Government went ahead with a number of proposed changes, Australia would not have access to the talent it currently has.

DCA says it’s particularly concerned about a proposed English language test in the Citizenship Bill.   

“Employees working at our member organisation shared stories from their family’s migration experience with us. Australia would have missed out on a great deal of talent if the proposed language test was introduced previously,” DCA CEO Lisa Annese said. “We don’t want to take that risk with future generations.”

Diamond Kular- a smash repair business owner in Melbourne, agrees with the Diversity Council.

“We are already struggling to retain good workers here. If they don’t even have the security of calling themselves Australians, it is only going to make things make difficult for them and in turn for us,” he told SBS Punjabi.

The government is proposing to increase the waiting period for permanent residents from current one year to four years before they become eligible for citizenship.

Citizenship aspirants will also be required to achieve a band-6 score on the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) test to prove they have competent English proficiency.

The proposed legislation- Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017, was sent to a Senate Inquiry last month after Labor decided to vote against the bill.

The DCA in its submission to a Senate Inquiry said increasing the waiting period for permanent residents from current one year to four years may be a deterrent for skilled migrants and it may lead them to leave Australia.

“The retrospective nature of these proposed changes is deeply unfair and jeopardises Australia’s reputation as a destination of choice for global talent,” the DCA said in its submission.

Arguing against a proposed stand-alone English test, it said investment in English language programs for migrants and refugees, as well as workplace programs to support inclusion, would be more conducive to achieving English proficiency for all Australians.

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