Children 'should take citizenship pledge'


The government's social inclusion minister says that schoolchildren should pledge their loyalty to Australia regularly at school.

Social Inclusion minister Tanya Plibersek says all children should take a citizenship pledge at school along the lines of that in US schools.

'American kids pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and all that it represents; so should Australian children know and understand our nation's citizenship pledge,' she said while addressing the conservative Sydney Institute think tank.

In a speech on the heritage of inclusion in Australia, Ms Plibersek says the pledge is already taken by new citizens, and hearing it makes her 'tear up'.

The pledge in full:

“From this time forward
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.”

'Every Australian should know the pledge. Every Australian child should learn it by heart and say it regularly at school', Ms Plibersek said.

'To see and hear new Australians become citizens is a wonderful thing – for these people are making a public commitment to Australia and accepting the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.'

Minister Plibersek said everyone in Australia must have the ability to fully participate in Australian society.

'The objective of social inclusion is that everyone in our community should have the opportunity to both reach their potential and participate fully in the social and economic life of the nation.'

Modern Australian patriotism 'should be inclusive, not exclusive.'

She said patriotism is about more 'than simply painting our faces green and gold at sporting events, tattooing the Australian flag on our shoulder or wearing a Wallabies tracksuit.'

In the past, 'some on the left..came to see patriotism and pride in our achievements as jingoistic and a bit naff', she said.

'As Southern Cross tattoos and car stickers became cool with one section of Australian society, another part of our community came to see this expression of patriotism as exclusive, boorish and aggressive. '

'All Australians should understand their rights and responsibilities as a citizen of our great nation', Ms Plibersek said.

SBS has approached both the Liberal and Green parties for comment.