This time from a Lebanese migrant that has failed the test eight times:
Obtaining Australian citizenship has been a “dream” that Lebanese father-of-two Radwan Sharaf has held since arriving in 2009.
The 39-year-old works as a house painter and relies on his job to support his family…
But it has been his inability to read and write in English and Arabic which has placed a roadblock in his path to obtaining citizenship.
He has tried and failed the Australian citizenship exam on eight occasions, and his constant failures have placed added pressure and anxiety on him.
“I have taken the test eight times – eight. My English is non-existent…
To pass the exam, an applicant must answer 75 per cent of the 20 English questions correctly…
Mr Sharaf said the federal government needed to consider easing its regulations regarding the test, and perhaps running the exam in languages other than English..
“I ask the government to bring in an Arabic translator to translate the exam”…
A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Arabic24: “The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 requires applicants to have a basic knowledge of English. The citizenship test is not available in languages other than English”…
The spokesperson said the department “recognises that some people may experience difficulty in passing the test” and that there are a “range of measures in place” to assist…
Although admitting that the assisting procedures appear to be appropriate, Mr Sharaf said it does not take into account illiterate people who do not know how to read and write at all.
The Productivity Commission’s Migrant Intake into Australia report explicitly noted “the fundamental importance of strong English-language skills for an immigrant’s integration and wellbeing in Australia” and explicitly recommended “significant reforms within the current system” and “‘raising the bar’ by shifting to a universal points test while tightening entry requirements relating to age, skills and English-language proficiency”.
In principle, it makes perfect sense for prospective migrants and citizens to be required to speak and read English. It is Australia’s national language and being able to understand and effectively communicate in English is central to integrating into the broader community, gaining employment, as well as to fulfil the responsibilities of residency.
The importance of English-language proficiency is also reflected in the median pay of permanent migrants. According to the ABS, migrants with English-speaking backgrounds earn significantly more than those from non-English speaking backgrounds:
That said, mandating English language proficiency is a second order issue to lowering Australia’s turbo-charged immigration intake to more sensible and sustainable levels.
Latest posts by Leith van Onselen (see all)
- Weekend Reading: 15-16 February 2020 - February 15, 2020
- Another commentator calls for stamp duty/land tax switch - February 14, 2020
- Farm lobby slams Sydney Uni research showing less need for migrants - February 14, 2020