Australian citizenship ceremonies to go ahead via video link during coronavirus crisis

Prime Minister Scott Morrison poses for photos with new citizens during an Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and Flag Raising event in Canberra, Jan 26, 2020 Source: AAP

People wanting to become Australian citizens will be able to take their oath of allegiance online during the coronavirus outbreak.

Australian citizenship ceremonies will be conducted online via video secure video link, with the prospect of up to 750 people conferred each day, acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge announced Monday.

The Department of Home Affairs has commenced trialling the one-on-one ceremonies for those already approved, with alternative arrangements to be made for those who can not access the internet.

“Australian citizenship is an immense privilege, and fundamental to our national identity,” Mr Tudge said in a statement.

There had been fears that tens of thousands of migrants waiting to become citizens were going to face an indefinite wait for the process to be finalised, after ceremonies across the country were cancelled because of social distancing measures brought on by the coronavirus.

After an application for citizenship is approved, migrants are required under the Australian Citizenship Act to make a pledge of commitment to Australia before a presiding officer, which normally occurs at a ceremony organised by their local council.

Current restrictions on public gatherings forced these to be put on hold.

“The Morrison Government recognises the importance of Australian citizenship for migrants and for the wider Australia community,” Mr Tudge said.

The Federal Government said there are currently 85,000 people awaiting a ceremony and those already scheduled for a citizenship event will be notified.

The Chambers family, who arrived in Perth from Wales ten years ago, are seen after becoming citizens during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony
The Chambers family, who arrived in Perth from Wales ten years ago, are seen after becoming citizens during an Australia Day citizenship ceremony

While future applications are still being accepted, the Federal Government has put a halt on interviews and testing.

More resources will be deployed to work through the backlog once social distancing measures ease.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments.

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