The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) recommends that changes to Australian Citizenship contained in the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 should not be adopted. This bill, if passed, would amend the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 and the Migration Act 1958 to strengthen the requirements to become an Australian citizen.
NEDA is concerned that these amendments could see an increase in migration-related disability discrimination or compound such discrimination. This in itself flies against the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which declares that people with disability have a right to nationality on equal basis with others. Further concerns include that some applicants for citizenship may not be eligible to apply for a test or interview exemption as they would not meet the narrowed ‘impairment’ criteria found within the bill. NEDA suggests the government should improve the exemption process rather than tightening such avenues.
NEDA opine that discriminatory themes prevail in the requirement that applicants demonstrate a ‘competent’ level of English as this favours people with disability from English-speaking countries. NEDA state that competency in English should not be a determinant in assessing a person’s ability to contribute to Australian social, economic and political life. In addition the proposal to increase the general residency requirement before being eligible for citizenship will have detrimental impacts on some migrants or refugees with disability and their families.
TASC supports NEDA’s submission and particularly endorses the commentary around potential human rights violations.