Children born in Australia to Kiwi parents who meet certain criteria will be given automatic Australian citizenship, under new changes announced by the federal government.
- The changes to automatic citizenship for children come into effect on July 1
- Anthony Albanese said he recognised many New Zealanders begin families in Australia
- New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the changes brought Australia into line with NZ
The new rules mean New Zealanders who are on the visa will be able to apply for citizenship without having to become a permanent resident first, as long as they have lived in Australia for at least four years.
Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also announced that, from July 1, 2023, children who are born in Australia to New Zealander parents who hold a Special Category visa and are permanent residents will automatically become Australian citizens.
“We know that many New Zealanders are here on a special category visa while raising families and working and building their lives in Australia,” he said.
“So I am very pleased to provide the benefits that citizenship provides.”
Mr Albanese described the relaxing of the citizenship rules as “common sense”, given Australians living across the Tasman are already afforded similar rights.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins echoed Mr Albanese, describing the move as being about fairness and making sure Kiwis in Australia had access to medical and other services that citizenship provided.
Mother of eight Toni Tino and her husband Rob moved to Australia more than a decade ago, seeking “a better life” for their children.
Three of her eight children were born in New Zealand but the others were born here.
Her Australian-born daughter Evannie, 11, was the only one of the family who had been granted Australian citizenship.
“Just that sense of belonging for her that she finally held that and felt a part of the country she’s lived in for all her life,” Ms Tino said.
“That was really incredible for her, we hope the other children feel the same one day soon.”
And while the changes to children’s citizenship rules come too late for her children, Ms Tino said after years of feeling like they were “permanently living here temporarily”, they now feel a sense of security and safety.
“I was so happy I had tears, I couldn’t believe it, it felt really surreal just to think that this was actually happening, it’s been such a long time coming,” she said.
The ability to become a citizen is even more important for Ms Tino’s four-year-old son Jariah, who lives with autism.
“Even though he was born here he was denied access to the NDIS based on the fact that he isn’t a citizen and we are not citizens,” she said.
“We can’t afford the sessions for speech therapy and occupational therapy he requires on a regular basis without the backing of the NDIS.
“So these changes mean he will be able to get citizenship and he’ll be able to get the help he needs and early intervention he requires to live a really good life hopefully.”
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