Brighter future for aspiring citizens

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 26-Oct-2017

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THE Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services groups has voiced its approval of the rejection of the proposed citizenship bill in the senate last Wednesday.

The bill, as it stood, would have increased the waiting times for permanent residents before they could apply for citizenship from one year to four years, and force new applicants to complete a university-level English language test.

“We congratulate every Senator who stood up against this discriminatory proposal,” LCMS chairperson Abhishek Awasthi, said. 

“Here in Bendigo, these changes would have had an enormously detrimental effect, particularly for our Karen community. 

“The Karen community have come here as refugees and many have not had the opportunity to go to school before arriving. They are a hardworking community who have settled well into life in Bendigo, but to expect people to gain university level English before becoming citizens is unfair and unnecessary.” 

Mr Awasthi said citizenship is an important bond between all Australians.

“It is important for people of refugee backgrounds who may have no citizenship rights in their country of origin,” he said

“Citizenship is something that we should all be able to attain and take pride in.”

Multicultural Services executive officer, Kate McInnes said migrants across Bendigo had been celebrating the outcome. 

“Multicultural community members who are yet to become citizens are relieved and delighted by the news. It will make a real difference to many people who call Bendigo home,” she said. 

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