Australian PrehistoryHistory - AustralianAustralian CultureAustralian IdentityCultural Comparisons Between Australia and other CountriesAustralian Citizenship


Testable Core

Australian People

Democratic Beliefs

Government and Law

After the test

Enjoying Australia Day traditions

Permanent Residency

Taking the Citizenship Pledge

Singing the National Anthem

Waving the Australian Flag

Learning Australian English



Section 8

Citizenship Test - Perceptions on Australia and its People

At citizenship ceremonies migrants need to pledge their loyalty towards Australian people. Logically then, it makes some sense for migrants to familiarise themselves with the people they are pledging loyalty towards. The citizenship test provides an opportunity to assess whether the migrants have familiarised themselves with those aspects of Australians that the department of Immigration and Border Protection believes are important. A study guide has been compiled to help migrants prepare for the test.

In the history section, firstly, migrants are expected to know that descendants of non-Europeans, collectively known as Aboriginal people, existed on mainland Australia for around 60,000 years. Secondly, they are expected to know that people descendant from the Torres Straight Islands, collectively known as Torres Straight Islanders, have a distinct cultural identity. Thirdly, they are expected to know that European settlement started as a penal colony and that a discovery of gold led to non-penal migration, including significant Asian migration. Fourthly, they are expected to know that the various colonies federated in 1901 and that after World War 2 lots of migrants started coming from countries other than Britain.

In the state and territories section, migrants are expected to know that Australia has six states and two territories. NSW is defined as the first state established by the British, Victoria as having buildings constructed using the aid of wealth created by the 1850s goldrush, Queensland as having environmental diversity, Western Australia as having lots of people living in Perth, South Australia has having a rugged coastline and Tasmania as having unspoilt wilderness. Finally, the Australian Capital Territory is defined as being located between Sydney and Melbourne while the Northern Territory is defined by having tropics in the north and red soil in the south.

The culture of the groups mentioned in the history section is reflected in the traditions and symbols section. Migrants are expected to know that the Aboriginal flag is red, yellow and black, the Australian flag has a union jack in the corner to symbolise British heritage, and the Torres Straight islander flag is green, blue, black and white. Opal is the national gemstone, wattle the national flower, and the Coat of Arms used to signal commonwealth ownership.  

The only traditions specifically mentioned are 1) Australia Day, which is defined as the anniversary of Australia’s penal settlement and an opportunity to celebrate all that is great about Australia and 2) Anzac Day, which is defined as a day to remember the sacrifice of Australians who died in war.

Overall, the expectations of migrants are very superficial and the recommended readings are arguably quite irrelevant for making sense of Australia and its people. Perhaps the superficiality reflects a desire not to make the test too challenging or too controversial. For the curious migrant; however, there are some perplexing question that would help making sense of the people they are expected to pledge loyalty towards.






Australia Today


Sport and Identity

Australian Economy and Market

Our Australian Story

What differentiates an Aborigine from a Torres Straight Islander?

The Convict Story


The Depression

Migration and the Snowy Mountains Scheme

Treatment of Aborigines