At least 4.5 million people have become Australian citizens since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen MP has said.
Prior to 1949, when legislation was introduced formally identifying people in Australia as Australians, most people in Australia were considered British subjects.
Mr. Bowen said hitting the 4.5 million mark was a significant milestone and an opportunity for all Australians to reflect on what it meant to be a citizen of this great country.
“Citizenship is the bond that holds our culturally diverse population together. This milestone also serves as a reminder of the role citizenship plays in building a strong and unified Australia,” Mr. Bowen said. “Australian citizenship is unique. It carries responsibilities and grants privileges. It represents commitment to our country, to our people and to the values we all share.”
In 2010-11, almost 100,000 people were conferred Australian citizenship, while Australia reached the milestone of four million people becoming citizens in 2007.
Mr. Bowen said the 4.5 million people to date who had chosen to become citizens came from more than 200 countries.
“The first seven people to become Australian citizens in 1949 came from Spain, Greece, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Norway, France, and Yugoslavia,” he said. “Since then, in the 1970s we saw a rise in citizenship for people from Italy, Greece and Lebanon, a steady stream of British-born citizens, and more recently people from China, New Zealand, India, Vietnam and South Africa becoming citizens. This milestone shows the importance of citizenship to all Australians, whether we have become citizens by birth or by choice.”