On 17 September, each year, Australian Citizenship Day is celebrated. This year the day is even more significant as we’ll be celebrating its 20th anniversary!
The Australian Government established the day in 2001 to give all Australians a specific day to celebrate their Australian citizenship. The date was chosen based on the anniversary of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 being renamed to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 in 1973 and was the first time the term “Australian citizen” had been used in any legislation.
Australia is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world and each year on 17 September, Australia welcomes many new citizens in local communities across the country. Australian Citizenship Day is often celebrated by local councils holding special citizenship and affirmation ceremonies and schools, organisations and community groups organising special celebration events and activities.
Australian citizenship is a common bond that unites all Australians, and Australian Citizenship Day provides an important opportunity to reflect on the meaning and importance of Australian citizenship (whether by birth or active choice), the responsibilities and privileges citizens have and what unites Australians together as citizens.
As I was writing this, I realised that I really don’t spend enough time appreciating my Australian citizenship. Perhaps it’s because I am an Australian citizen by birth and haven’t known any different in my life, but when reading about the journeys of many others who have made an active choice to become an Australian citizen, and their reasons why, it made me realise what a privilege my Australian citizenship is.
In this moment, as I sit here with my newfound appreciation for my Australian citizenship, a few things that I strongly value and that really resonate with me are:
- as a practising lawyer, the commitment to the rule of law and the paramountcy of laws being created through a parliamentary democracy;
- the importance of equality of opportunities for everyone regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, race or national or ethnic origin;
- the celebration and respect of one another giving us a common bond as Australians which helps give us all a sense of belonging to our nation and being part of a bigger picture.
If you haven’t done so lately, I’d encourage you to, (and particularly on 17 September, the 20th anniversary of Australian Citizenship Day), reflect on what you value most about Australian citizenship and share those thoughts with your friends, family and colleagues, so collectively we can remind ourselves of what it means to be a proud Australian citizen.
Article by: Courtenay Zajicek, Committee Member, ACC Australia Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Special Interest Group
ACC Australia is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive in-house profession and has created the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) Special Interest Group. If you are interested in participating in the special interest group or contributing ideas, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.