Sixtieth Anniversary of Australian Citizenship

Australian citizenship was introduced in 1949 following the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. Before this time most Australian residents were British subjects.

The first citizenship ceremony was at Albert Hall, Canberra, on 3 February 1949. Seven men from Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Spain and Yugoslavia became citizens – one to represent each state and the ACT.

In 1949, almost 2500 people from more than 35 countries became Australian citizens. Most were from Italy, Poland, Greece, Germany and Yugoslavia.

Key Facts:
  • More than four million people have become Australian citizens in the past 60 years.
  • More than 95 per cent of the nation's population are Australian citizens.
  • Australian citizenship is celebrated annually on Australian Citizenship Day, September 17.

Events and commemorations

The 60th anniversary will be launched at the Australia Day citizenship ceremony at Regatta Point in Canberra.

Commemorations throughout the year will include:
  • the opening of Citizenship Place, on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, on Australia Day.
    Citizenship Place will feature a timeline wall and engraving of the Australian citizenship affirmation. Citizenship Place will be a focus for future citizenship celebrations
  • a commemorative mintmark coin released by the Royal Australian Mint
  • a 60th anniversary of citizenship message from the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, for all conferees throughout the year
  • a 60th anniversary edition of citizenship school education resources, and
  • 60th anniversary-themed conferral ceremonies at landmark events including Citizenship Day.

Citizenship today

More than 120 000 people from more than 200 countries became Australian citizens in 2007-08:

New South Wales- 45 000
Victoria- 30 700
Queensland- 17 400
Western Australia- 17 000
South Australia- 6300
Australian Capital Territory- 2500
Tasmania- 900
Northern Territory- 600

Most were from the United Kingdom, India, China, New Zealand and South Africa.