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The Australian federal parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is presently conducting an inquiry into the conduct of the 2010 election. We strongly encourage all overseas-based Australian citizens to use this opportunity to tell Canberra about their experiences with expat voting, enrolment and disenfranchisement while abroad. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 16 February 2011. Submissions can be emailed directly off our site, where we also have ideas for your submission. Or you can compose an email independently and send it yourself to email@example.com. Guidelines on preparing a submission can be found on the Parliament House website.
Browse the Overseas Voting section of our site for further information on the issues and the work the SCG has been doing on the expat disenfranchisement issue since 2000.
Many Now Applying for Australian Citizenship under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007
The operative provisions of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 entered into force on 1 July 2007. Since then thousands in the Australian diaspora have been taking advantage of this legislation and making applications for Australian citizenship. The SCG has already assisted hundreds of people, and we are here to help you too.
Make sure you use the correct and most up-to-date application form, as explained below. There are separate forms for resumption, descent and conferral applications and the forms are updated and replaced from time to time. Citizenship application fees in various currencies are set out here.
Before applying for Australian citizenship under any category, you should CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY. There are a number of special scenarios that are NOT covered by the new Act. Check if you fall into one of these special scenarios. If you are still unsure, please write to the SCG. We do not want people who are not eligible to make applications for citizenship which are then refused.
Have you already applied for Australian citizenship since July 2007? We'd be glad to hear from you about your experiences. Was your encounter with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship a positive one? Were there any hitches with your application? How long did it take to be processed and decided? Are you still waiting and wondering? The SCG is monitoring processing times and administrative issues for Australian citizenship applications globally and welcomes your feedback. In several cases we have stepped in to act for applicants before the Department where matters have been less than satisfactory.
Has the SCG been of service to you? Please consider making a donation to show your appreciation. We are an entirely volunteer run organisation with no paid staff. Your donation will help us offset various outlays for postage, copying, stationery, web-hosting fees, telephone costs, etc. You can send a cheque in US$, or donate online using your credit card or PayPal account from anywhere in the world. You may give online in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US dollars using a Visa or Mastercard from any country. Donations by cheque drawn on a UK GBP account are also possible. For further donation methods, contact us. If you donate more than US$75 or equivalent, we'll send you a free copy of our book of Australian expat stories. Make sure you tell us your address if you make a larger donation, so that you don't miss out on your free gift. Thank you!
If you are a former Australian citizen and lost your Australian citizenship when you acquired another citizenship before 4 April 2002, or if you formally renounced your Australian citizenship, use Form 132 "Application to resume Australian citizenship". This is a pdf-fillable version of the form, so you can fill it out onscreen before you print it out to sign and lodge. You are applying under Section 29(3) of the 2007 Act.
NOTE ON VALIDITY OF FORM 132: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) updates and replaces all citizenship forms at periodic intervals. If you print out Form 132 today but then wait several days, weeks or months before filing your completed form, the version you have may have gone out of date. If you attempt to file an out of date form, your application will be delayed because you will be asked to redo it using the latest edition of the form. The bottom right hand corner of the form shows its edition. For example, "07/08" means the 1 July 2008 edition. Just before you file, make sure that you go online to the Government's Citizenship website forms page and check that you have the most up to date edition of the form. Forms are generally updated on the first of a month, but not always, and not every month by any means.
Note: if you are a former Australian citizen born outside Australia with an Australian citizen parent at the time of your birth you can use either the descent or the resumption route. We advise descent because descent applications are processed and decided at overseas posts relatively quickly whereas resumption applications go to DIAC's Dandenong office from the post of lodgement for decision and can take around 3 months. If time is not an issue, however, resumption will be slightly cheaper.
You should also carefully read the resumption page on the Australian Government's citizenship website. And the supporting documentation you will need is set out on that site too.
Resumption applications presently carry a filing fee of AU$70. Fees are adjusted on 1 January and 1 July every year. To check the current fee in AU$, click here. For fees in the main overseas currencies, click here.
NB: If you are in the United States and therefore filing with the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, the resumption fee is presently fixed at US$70. On Form 132, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in "US$ 70" instead.
If you are in the UK or Ireland, and are filing through the Australian High Commission in London, the resumption fee is presently fixed at GBP 45. On Form 132, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in "GBP 45" instead.
If you are in Canada, and filng through the Australian High Commission in Ottawa, the resumption fee is presently fixed at CDN$75. On Form 132, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write "CDN$75" instead.
For the up-to-date relevant fee in foreign currencies for filing at other overseas posts, consult the Department's currency converter, which also explains what forms of payment are accepted at each post. Fees valid unti 30 June 2011 for those filing in Australia, London, Washington, Ottawa and Eurozone countries are set out here.
Resumption applicants only need to provide police clearances for countries outside Australia they have lived in going back 10 years. This change is as a result of successful lobbying by the SCG. The Department first tried to impose a requirement that police clearances were needed back to the age of 16, but then agreed (by letter dated 23 July 2007) that applicants for resumption applying offshore need only go back 10 years. We also queried conflicting information on police clearance requirements with DIAC by e-mail of 14 July 2008. We received a response by e-mail from Canberra on 28 July 2008. If you have spent a total cumulative period of 12 months or more outside Australia in the last 10 years, then you need police clearances from all countries (except Australia) where you have spent 3 months or more.
If you are having trouble obtaining an FBI criminal history record check in the US because your fingerprints are worn or faded, please contact the SCG. This issue is arising for a number of elderly female applicants. Read an e-mail we received from DIAC on 27 August 2008 explaining how statutory declarations will be acceptable if the FBI rejects your application for a police check due to faded fingerprints.
Also: Applicants who are resident overseas can provide overseas marriage certificates as evidence of name change. If this is not in English, however, it must be translated into English by an acceptable certified translator.
IF YOU ARE AN AUSTRALIAN-BORN WW2 WAR BRIDE IN THE US AND your date of US naturalization was before 26 January 1949, AND on your date of US naturalization you were married (not widowed or divorced) please contact us. It is likely that you have been an Australian citizen ever since 26 January 1949 and therefore do not need to resume now. But each case must be individually checked.
IF YOU ARE IN MALTA note that the Australian High Commission in Malta will NOT accept citizenship applications. Maltese applicants should click here for further information.
If you were born outside Australia on or after 26 January 1949, and had an Australian citizen parent at the date of your birth, use Form 118 "Application for Australian citizenship by descent". You are applying under Section 16(2) of the 2007 Act.
NOTE ON VALIDITY OF FORM 118: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) updates and replaces all citizenship forms at periodic intervals. If you print out Form 118 today but then wait several days, weeks or months before filing your completed form, the version you have may have gone out of date. If you attempt to file an out of date form, your application will be delayed because you will be asked to redo it using the latest edition of the form. The bottom right hand corner of the form shows its edition. For example, "07/08" means the 1 July 2008 edition. You must use the most recent version of Form 118. Just before you file, make sure that you go online to the Government's Citizenship website forms page and check that you have the most up to date edition of the form. Forms are generally updated on the first of a month, but not always, and not every month by any means.
(Note: if you are a former Australian citizen born outside Australia with an Australian citizen parent at the time of your birth you can use either the descent or the resumption route. We advise descent because descent applications are processed and decided at overseas posts in about 3 weeks whereas resumption applications go to Canberra and can take around 3 months. If time is not an issue, however, resumption will be cheaper.)
If you were born outside Australia before 26 January 1949, and you had an Australian-born parent who became an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949, use Form 118 "Application for Australian citizenship by descent". If you require assistance filling out the form, please e-mail the SCG. You are applying under Section 16(3) of the 2007 Act.
All descent applicants should also carefully read the explanatory material on the Australian Government's Citizenship website. The supporting documentation required for descent applications is set out here.
Descent applicants only need to provide police clearances for countries outside Australia they have lived in going back 10 years. This change is as a result of successful lobbying by the SCG. The Department first tried to impose a requirement that police clearances were needed back to the age of 16, but then agreed (by letter dated 23 July 2007) that applicants for descent applying offshore need only go back 10 years. We also queried conflicting information on police clearance requirements with DIAC by e-mail of 14 July 2008. We received a response by e-mail from Canberra on 28 July 2008. If you have spent a total cumulative period of 12 months or more outside Australia in the last 10 years, then you need police clearances from all countries (except Australia) where you have spent 3 months or more.
Descent applications carry a filing fee of AU$120. If two siblings file together, the second descent application is reduced to AU$95. Fees are adjusted on 1 January and 1 July every year. To check the current fee in AU$, click here. Fees in local currency for those filing in London, Washington, Ottawa and Eurozone countries are set out here.
If you are in the US and applying through the Australian Embassy in DC, the descent application fee is presently fixed at US$125. On Form 118, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in "US$ 125" instead. If a second sibling lodges a descent application at the same time, the second enjoys a reduction and only pays US$ 100.
If you are in the UK or Ireland or Continental Europe and applying through the Australian High Commission in London, the descent application fee is presently fixed at GBP 80. On Form 118, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in "GBP 80" instead. If a second sibling lodges a descent application at the same time, the second enjoys a reduction and only pays GBP 60.
If you are in Canada, and applying through the Australian High Commission in Ottawa, the descent application fee is presently fixed at CDN$125. On Form 118, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in "CDN$125" instead. If a second sibling lodges a descent application at the same time, the second enjoys a reduction and only pays CDN $100.
For the relevant fee in foreign currencies for filing at other overseas posts, consult the Department's currency converter, which also explains what forms of payment are accepted at each post.
If you were born outside Australia to a parent who lost their Australian citizenship under Section 17 of the 1948 Act BEFORE you were born, you will be applying for Australian citizenship by conferral under Section 21(6) of the 2007 Act. Use Form 1290 - Application for Australian Citizenship by Conferral - other situations.
NOTE ON VALIDITY OF FORM 1290: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) updates and replaces all citizenship forms at periodic intervals. If you print out Form 1290 today but then wait several days, weeks or months before filing your completed form, the version you have may have gone out of date. If you attempt to file an out of date form, your application will be delayed because you will be asked to redo it using the latest edition of the form. The bottom right hand corner of the form shows its edition. For example, "07/08" means the July 2008 edition. Just before you file, make sure that you go online to the Government's Citizenship website forms page and check that you have the most up to date edition of the form. Forms are generally updated on the first of a month, but not always and not every month by any means. Form 124 is now defunct and can no longer be used.
All conferral applicants should carefully read the relevant information on the Australian Government's citizenship website. The supporting documentation you will need is set out here.
Conferral applications (for those who do not have to sit the Australian Citizenship Test) presently carry a filing fee of AUD$130. Fees are adjusted on 1 January and 1 July every year. To check the current fee, click here. Fees in local currency for those filing in London, Washington, Ottawa and Eurozone countries are set out here.
If you are in the US and applying through the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, the fee for conferral applications is presently fixed at US$135. On Form 1290, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in "US$ 135" instead.
If you are in the UK or Ireland, and applying through the Australian High Commission in London, the fee for conferral applications is presently fixed at GBP 85. On Form 1290, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in "GBP 85" instead.
If you are in Canada, and applying through the Australian High Commission in Ottawa, the fee for conferral applications is presently fixed at CDN$135. On Form 1290, at the end, cross out the words "Australian Dollars" and "AUD" and write in CDN$135" instead.
For the relevant fee in foreign currencies for filing at other overseas posts, consult the Department's currency converter, which also explains what forms of payment are accepted at each post.
If you require assistance filling out Form 1290, please e-mail the SCG.
If you are resident in the UK, you should consult three SCG guidance documents to help you prepare your Australian citizenship application: our FAQs and answers document, our InfoSheet on how to obtain police clearances in the UK and Ireland, and our document on how to obtain birth, death and marriage certificates from Australia. NOTE: From 1 July 2009, a UK Subject Access Reply is NO LONGER ACCEPTED as proof of good character from applicants who live in the UK or have lived in the UK. Instead, only ACRO UK police statements will do.
If you are in the UK or Ireland and require assistance with your citizenship application, email our SCG London volunteer Eric Brown, or telephone him on +44 20 8467 5574. You can also call the Australian High Commission London Contact Centre on 09065 508 900, at a cost of GBP 1/min from BT land lines or send an electronic query.
If you are resident in the US, or have been resident in the US at any time since you were 16, the first thing you should do without delay now is order your Criminal History Record Check from the FBI. These are presently taking some weeks to arrive once ordered. You will also need a Clearance Letter from each place of residence in which you have lived in the US in the last 12 months. Read our specially prepared Information Sheet on obtaining police clearances in the United States for full guidance. You should also consult our FAQs and answers document for those resident in the United States. Australian-born war brides in the US and their children should consult these special pages on our site.
If you are in the United States and need assistance with your citizenship application, call the DIAC North American citizenship information number open 9-5 Eastern time, business days: 1 905-280-1437.
If you live or have lived in Canada, read the SCG InfoSheet for Canada on obtaining Canadian Police Clearances.
There are some special scenarios that are presently under examination and may not be covered by the new Citizenship Act. Please check that you do not fall into one of these special categories before applying for Australian citizenship.
If you are a person who was born in Australia but naturalised abroad before 26 January 1949, or if your parent is such a person, please contact the SCG for further advice. See the letter that the SCG wrote to the Minister on this particular scenario on 11 June 2007. Our legal assessment in that letter was confirmed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship by e-mail dated 10 July 2007. This means that Australian-born WWII war brides who took US citizenship before 26 January 1949 and who on their date of US naturalization were married (not divorced or widowed) became Australian citizens on 26 January 1949. It is likely that they have been Australian citizens ever since (i.e. dual citizens), so they do not need to resume now. As a result it is likely that their US-born children can therefore now apply for Australian citizenship by descent. If this is your scenario, please contact us. Each case must be individually examined.
Similarly, if you were born outside Australia before 26 January 1949 and your Australian-born parent passed away before that date, please contact us.
Further, if you were born outside Australia to a parent who was not born in Australia but who spent time in Australia as a child or adult, or if you are a person who was not born in Australia but migrated there as a child and grew up there, we would like to hear from you.
If you were born outside Australia to a person who formally renounced their Australian citizenship under Section 18 of the 1948 Act before you were born, you are not covered by Section 21(6) of the 2007 Act. Click here for more information.
If you were born outside Australia to a person who lost their Australian citizenship under Section 23 of the 1948 Act while a minor before you were born, you are also not covered by Section 21(6) of the 2007 Act. Click here for more information.
How Many People Overseas Now Qualify for Australian Citizenship?
The SCG estimates that in the order of 100,000 individuals in the Australia diaspora are newly eligible to apply for Australian citizenship from 1 July 2007. That does not include migrants presently living in Australia who qualify for naturalization. Read our media release of that date here. Share in some of our diaspora citizenship stories!
Changes Bittersweet for Sandra in Malta
Citizenship Odyssey Ends for Matthew
Vietnam War Bride to Resume Australian Citizenship
Clive to become Australian at Last
Egyptian Aussies to Reclaim Citizenship
Smith Family to Become Australians
Cellist in Canada to Resume Citizenship
Read the article published on 26 June 2007 on Guardian Abroad about the citizenship changes by Joanne Christie.
What's in the new Australian Citizenship Act 2007?
The Good News
The 2007 Act incorporates almost all of the changes lobbied for by the SCG over the last seven years on behalf of Australian expats.
Key changes for those in the Australian community overseas concern a simplified route to the resumption of citizenship lost on the acquisition of another citizenship under the old Section 17, or renounced under Section 18 of the 1948 Act. Now that the 2007 Act is in force, the key requirement for resumption will be that the person be of good character. Further, certain people born overseas to Australian citizen parents who do not presently qualify to be Australian citizens by descent will be given access to Australian citizenship. Many Australian war brides who married US servicemen during and just after World War II and their US-born children will be positively affected by these forthcoming changes.
The Bad News
Section 18 Offspring: The SCG remains disappointed that the Government decided to exclude from the Australian family in the 2007 Act children born overseas to individuals after their renunciation of citizenship under Section 18 of the 1948 Act. In particular, this affects approx. 3000 Maltese-born children of some 2000 Australian-born people in Malta. For further details see our dedicated pages on this special subject.
Despite a great deal of work by the SCG and others from the time the bill was tabled in November 2005, particularly in the context of the Senate Inquiry on the bill (see our Primary Submission), the 2007 Act as passed excludes Section 18 children. The government-controlled Senate Committee made no recommendation for their inclusion in its inquiry report. Although the Opposition did introduce an ALP amendment in both the House and the Senate to include Section 18 offspring, because the Government controls both Houses, the amendment did not succeed.
So this issue remains to be dealt with in the years to come. However, now that the provisions of the 2007 Act are in force, Australian-born Maltese who renounced their Australian citizenship as teenagers are able to apply to resume their citizenship, and subsequently, would be able to migrate to Australia with any non-Australian spouses/partners and non-Australian dependent children after obtaining the necessary visas. After a certain period living in Australia, Australian citizenship by naturalisation (conferral) would be available to their children who are not included in the 2007 Act, via this somewhat more indirect route. Read an article that appeared in the Times of Malta on 4 March 2006 on this subject.
Australian Citizenship for Adults who were Adopted as Children by Australians Overseas: Over the years, the SCG has identified several families who adopted children under the laws of countries such as the UK and Canada in for example the 1960s. Although one or both adoptive parents was an Australian-born Australian citizen, these adopted people have never qualified to be Australian citizens, because they had no natural parent who was Australian at the time of their birth. The SCG raised this issue in mid 2004, but the problem is not addressed in the 2007 Act, despite the fact that during the Senate Inquiry into the Citizenship Bill we made a detailed Supplementary Submission just on this subject. We also raised the issue in the evidence we gave at the public hearing on 6 February 2006. However, the Senate Committee failed to grapple with this issue in its inquiry report of 27 February 2006. If you are the overseas-born and overseas-adopted son or daughter of an Australian citizen adoptive parent and you are also excluded from Australian citizenship, please contact us. We raised this matter again in our meeting with DIMA in Canberra on 27 April 2006. Although the Government tabled amendments (which were ultimately adopted in the 2007 Act) to introduce a new Subdivision into the Bill dealing with Australian citizenship for those adopted under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, the SCG believes that this will still not address the plight of many people adopted outside Australia by Australian expatriate parents if they miss out on Australian citizenship while they are minors.
Section 23 Offspring: Many adults have lost their Australian citizenship over the years in one way or another - perhaps because they voluntarily acquired another citizenship voluntarily before 4 April 2002 and lost under the now-repealed Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, or because they formally renounced using Section 18. In many instances, when the adult lost Australian citizenship, their minor children also lost automatically under Section 23. All these groups of people will qualify under the 2007 Act to resume their Australian citizenship. However, children born outside Australia to people who lost as children under Section 23 are excluded from 2007 Act. We estimate that there may be approx. 19,000 individuals around the world in this situation. We made a special Supplementary Submission on this point to the recent Senate Inquiry, and mentioned it in our oral evidence at the public hearing, but to no avail so far: the Senate Committee's inquiry report did not made any recommendations on the matter. If you are the son or daughter of someone who lost under Section 23 as a child, please get in touch. We also raised this matter again in our meeting with DIMA in Canberra on 27 April 2006. Unfortunately the Government did not remedy this point.
SCG Publishes Discussion Paper on What's Still Wrong with Australian Citizenship Law
In advance of Australian Citizenship Day on 17 September 2008, on 15 September the SCG published a discussion paper entitled What's Still Wrong with Australian Citizenship Law. We outline a number of scenarios of people in the diaspora who still fall between the cracks and miss out on Australian citizenship despite major legislative reforms in 2007. The SCG urges the current government to address these lacunae in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 with appropriate legislative amendments. Most of the cases illustrated appear to be excluded simply because when the 2007 Act was drafted no one envisaged their scenarios could arise. Read the SCG's media realse of 15 September 2008 here.
SCG Writes to Senator Evans, Minister for Citizenship, About Maltese Children
On 22 July 2008, the SCG wrote to Senator the Hon Christopher Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, concerning Australian citizenship for those born outside Australia after their Australian-born parent had formally renounced Australian citizenship. Read our letter here. It has also been sent to a number of MPs and Senators who previously spoke on this issue in Parliament at the time the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 was enacted. We received a response from DIAC dated 7 August 2008 indicating that the Department is preparing advice for the Minister to seek his views on whether the new government wishes to pursue legislative change on this issue. Read the Times of Malta story of 20 August 2008 here.
SCG Proposes Establishment of New Australian Expatriate and Diaspora Office in Budget Submission
In January 2008 the SCG proposed to the Rudd Government that an Australian Expatriate and Diaspora Office (AEDO) be established within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra. In its submission to the Treasury dated 18 January 2008 in response to the Treasurer's call for community input on the 2008-09 Budget, the SCG suggested that the establishment of AEDO would be the first step towards the development and implementation of Australia's first ever Expatriate and Diaspora Policy. Unfortunately the idea was not taken up in the Budget announced in May 2008. We received this acknowledgement letter from the Treasury in late February.
Listen to SCG Co-founder Anne MacGregor talking about AEDO and expat disenfranchisement on SBS Radio's World View program on 24 January 2008 in podcast here or in MP3 or Real formats here. Read an article by Glenda Korporaal about the SCG in the Weekend Australian on 2-3 January 2008 here.
Howard Government Dismisses Ordinary Overseas Australians
in Response to Senate Expat Inquiry Recommendations
21 months after the Senate's Legal and Constitutional References Committee
put out 16 recommendations at the conclusion of the Inquiry into Australian
Expatriates, the Government tabled its response to those recommendations on
7 December 2006. Read
the Hansard here and the SCG's
media release here.
Everyone who took the time to make submissions
to the original Inquiry in early 2004 will be disappointed to see the
dismissive stance the Government has taken on key recommendations. The response
is a clear message that the Government is not concerned about the needs of
ordinary overseas Australians, most of whom are disenfranchised under Australian
electoral law. The Senate Committee's recommendation to amend electoral legislation
was dismissed wholesale.
One Million More - Census of Australians Abroad
Largest-ever Survey of Australian Expats
To coincide with the Australian Census on 8 August 2006, the Southern Cross Group partnered with Advance to conduct a separate, independent survey of those outside Australia which ran until 30 September 2006.
As of the closing date, 9,529 people had started the survey as individuals or as part of a family unit, representing 16,902 people, with 8,578 of those people completing the survey (a 90% completion rate).
The SCG thanks all those who took the time to participate. We know many people are keen to hear what the survey has revealed about the diaspora. We will soon be sharingsome of the conclusions on this website.
Australian Driving Licences Now Recognised in Belgium!
Good news for Aussies in Belgium! After almost a decade of negotiations, DFAT has finally managed to get the Belgian authorities to enter into an administrative arrangement (effective 1 September 2006) whereby Australians can swap their Australian licence for a Belgian licence on becoming resident in Belgium at their local town hall. See our media release of 13 September 2006, and the Australian Embassy in Belgium's website for more information.
First Results from a Recent Survey of Australians in the US
Kelly Parker, a PhD student from Adelaide University, working with Professor Graeme Hugo, has now released the first results from her recent survey of Australians in the US. More than 1500 people took part. Click here to read Kelly's findings.
Mary Broad - Was She Australia's First Expatriate?
Read Her Story!
The SCG is pleased to get behind the publication of a new historical novel recreating the true and fascinating tale of First Fleet convict Mary Bryant, nee Broad. This highly enjoyable book, entitled The Sarsaparilla Souvenir, was written by Australian expatriate author Jo Anne Rey. We believe Mary may qualify as Australia's very first expatriate by virtue of her daring (and successful) escape in 1791 from Botany Bay back to England!
The Sarsaparilla Souvenir by Jo Anne Rey is published by Xlibris
ISBN 1-4134-8077-2, 2005, 326 pages. Online orders from Xlibris.com, Amazon.co.uk, Blackwell.co.uk and Amazon.com in the US, and Collins Booksellers online in Australia, as well as a number of other online bookshops, or order using the above details from your local bookshop. Send an e-mail to Jo Anne to discuss her book by clicking here.
Expatriates Inquiry Report of 8 March 2005
After receiving an impressive 677 submissions from Australians in all corners of the globe, and public hearings over four days in 2004, the Australian Senate's Legal and Constitutional References Committee tabled its Report in the Inquiry into Australian Expatriates in Canberra on 8 March 2005. The 168-page Report can be accessed here. In its introduction, the Committee states:
In the same way that most expatriate Australians still embrace Australia as their home, we should embrace our expatriate community as part of the Australian nation, and recognise that our expatriates are an important part of Australian society.
The Senate Committee made 16 recommendations. They include the establishment of a dedicated government information and services website portal for overseas Australians, and the establishment of a special policy unit within DFAT to coordinate and consult on diaspora policies.
Importantly, the (at the time Opposition-controlled) Senate Committee also recommended in March 2005 that the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 be amended to ensure that children of people who lost their citizenship under the now repealed Section 17, as well as children of those who renounced their citizenship under Section 18, become eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by descent. Unfortunately, however, only Section 17 offspring, and not Section 18 offspring, were ultimately included in the Australian Citizenship Bill 2005 tabled on 9 November 2005. See above.
Perhaps most significantly, on the issue of voting rights, the March 2005 Report marks an important shift in thinking among Australia's federal parliamentarians concerning the entitlement of Australia's overseas citizens to be engaged in the electoral process. The Senate Committee recommended that the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 should be amended as set out below to assist expatriate Australians to maintain their electoral enrolment. While an amendment in these terms would not re-enfranchise all overseas Australians who presently cannot vote because they are no longer on the electoral roll, it would be an important step in our longer-term journey towards complete enfranchisement:
Australian citizens moving or living overseas should be entitled to register as an "Eligible Overseas Elector" if they left Australia in the previous three years, or have returned to Australia (for any length of time) in the past three years; and they intend to resume residence in Australia within six years of their departure; and
Australian citizens who have been living overseas for six years should be entitled to renew their enrolment as an eligible overseas elector if they have returned to Australia (for any length of time) within the last three years.
This recommendation was explicitly supported by Government senators who were in the minority on the Senate Committee at the time. The Committee also recommended that voting for overseas Australians should continue to be non-compulsory.
The enormous variety of input received for the Expatriates Inquiry from the global Australian community contributed to a wide-ranging, comprehensive and carefully thought out Inquiry Report, a document which could well have served as an initial blueprint for Australia in engaging with its overseas citizens going forward. However, despite all the hard work put in by the many Australian expatriates and the Senate Committee, the Government was disappointlingly dismissive of the inquiry in its response finally tabled on 7 December 2006.
Two Great Books about the Australian Diaspora!
We highly recommend two books as essential reading on the Australian Diaspora, which also make great presents for friends and family. Buy both books now and benefit from our special discount offer by saving US$ 5 on your order, or purchase just one of the books directly from this site.
Issue 6 of the journal Griffith Review has just been published (Nov 2004) by ABC Books and Griffith University, and is entitled "Our Global Face - Inside the Australian Diaspora". It features a piece on the Southern Cross Group and the challenges of running a virtual lobbying organisation, as well as various other writings, all centred around the Diaspora theme. Ordering information and further publication details here, or consider subscribing to Griffith Review at special rates.
A "must have" to understand the expat experience. The October 2003 book, "Australian Expats: stories from abroad", published by the Southern Cross Group and Global Exchange, contains 33 original non-fiction stories from Australian expats around the world, and a delightful foreword by Nikki Gemmell. Go to our online ordering page to get your copy. Read our media release of 14 October 2003 announcing publication here. Many stories which didn't fit in the book are published on this site.
STOP PRESS: In August 2004 "Australian Expats" was short-listed for the ASA Travel Writing Award at the Melbourne Writers' Festival.
Prefer Amazon? If you don't want to order using PayPal directly from our site, both new and slightly-damaged-in-transit copies of "Australian Expats" are also available from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk.
Help us Promote ExpatriateConnect!
We hope that wherever you are in the world, you'll get behind ExpatriateConnect, by signing yourself up to the network, and by promoting it to other expat Australians. ExpatriateConnect is for ALL overseas Australians, regardless of age, background, education, skills, experience or profession. We have made available a pdf poster and a brochure about ExpatriateConnect which may assist. These can be printed off our site and photocopied or e-mailed around to friends and colleagues. If you would like us to send you significant quantities of brochures or flyers to distribute to a local Australian expat group or at an event, etc, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our joint AIC/SCG media release of 2 June 2004 and our media release of 10 June 2004 are also useful background.
Changes to Australian Citizenship Policy Help Overseas-born Children
Over several years, the SCG lobbied the Australian Government for changes to citizenship rules so that a special group of children born overseas can obtain Australian citizenship. On 13 October 2003, Australia's then Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Gary Hardgrave MP, announced a policy change to provide an equitable solution to this dilemma under the 1948 citizenship Act. Children under 18 whose parents were no longer Australian citizens at the time of their birth (because they had lost their citizenship under the now repealed Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948) could subsequently apply for citizenship by grant. Read the Minister's media release of 14 October 2003 here.
NOTE: From 1 July 2007, this change has been formalised in law as Section 21(6) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, and extended to people of all ages who were born to Section 17 victims abroad. Click here for more information.
Your E-mails to the Southern Cross Group
Since our foundation, in January 2000, a tiny seed of an idea has taken hold and the Southern Cross Group has developed beyond the wildest dreams of its founders. Now in the seventh year of our activities, we now receive many e-mail questions every day from expats around the world. But all of our Committee are still volunteers, and providing everyone with a useful and timely response is becoming increasingly difficult. We want to hear from Australian expats, because we want to know what your concerns and experiences are. However, before you write in with a query of any nature, we would ask you first to carefully read the information on our website, and to look at relevant goverment web sites, in order to try to find what you are looking for. If you really can't find an answer after doing some online research yourself, then by all means get in touch and we'll do our best to help. We are an advocacy and support organisation for the Australian diaspora, so your e-mails are important to us - but in many cases the information people request from us is readily available on our site or the relevant government website.
Important: Register Your Presence Overseas with DFAT
Don't forget about the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's online registration service for Australians overseas. In the event of a disturbance or terrorist incident overseas, the fact that you are in this database may help Australian consular officials to locate you more quickly and to reassure your loved ones at home that you are safe. We also urge Australians who live overseas, when travelling away from their overseas residence as registered with DFAT, to always leave details of their itinerary etc with someone who is not travelling with them. Please also encourage your relatives and friends in Australia to register with DFAT when they are going on holidays overseas. You can also register with your nearest overseas mission directly.
Subscribe to DFAT's E-mail Travel Advice
If you are travelling frequently, this is one way to make sure you keep up to date with any travel warnings the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is issuing. Use the sign-up facility on the top right hand corner of the general DFAT Travel Advice Page.
Do You Have Lost Superannuation Money in Australia?
Did you work in Australia in one or more jobs before going overseas? Did you contribute to a superannuation fund? Superannuation was compulsory from 1992 and voluntary before that with most employers. Have you kept track of those moneys since you left Australia?
About one in three working Australians in Australia are believed to have lost track of their superannuation savings. 500,000 people have already inquired into the forgotten funds since a national unclaimed super recovery campaign was launched in late 2002. The Australian Preservation Fund has almost AUD$ 7 billion of lost super waiting to be claimed. See the FAQs page in the new Superannuation section of our website for details on how you can start your hunt for potential unclaimed super!
Where's the Money Coming From?
How do we fund the Southern Cross Group? Sometimes we ask ourselves the same question! The Group exists entirely due to volunteer efforts. Our financial overheads are mostly covered by members of our SCG Committee, and partly offset by donations from people who appreciate our work. You can assist by making a donation through PayPal online, giving amounts in either US dollars, Euro or GBP, using your own PayPal account or a Visa or Mastercard from any country. Or you can send us a cheque in US dollars drawn on a US bank. GBP cheques drawn on a UK bank are also acceptable. For other donation methods and options, contact us.
We also have a commission arrangement in place with Amazon. So next time you wish to purchase books or other goods from Amazon, please enter their site through the Amazon banners on our site. And tell your friends and relatives to do the same! And if your company is interested in paid advertising on our site or other sponsorship opportunities, please contact us.
Are You Applying for a Non-Australian Citizenship? Share Your Experiences!
Following the repeal of Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, many Australian expatriates are now in the process of applying for citizenship in the countries in which they reside. They will now no longer forfeit their Australian citizenship under Australian law on the acquisition of another citizenship. Some of you have already written in to tell us about receiving or applying for your new citizenships. Other people are writing in to ask us about the naturalisation process in the country they are in. If you are applying/have applied for a new citizenship, we'd be grateful if you could let us know your experiences, so that we can share this information with other overseas Australians in similar situations.
Check out our Site Archives!
We can't mention everything we have done or are presently doing on our homepage. But copies of all submissions we've made to Government, letters we've written, responses we've received, and many other useful materials from independent sources on the subject of the Australian diaspora are all contained in our website archives.