65th Anniversary of Australian Citizenship

65th anniversary of Australian citizenship logo

2014 is the 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship.

On 26 January 1949 the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect creating the new status of Australian citizen. Prior to this, most people living in Australia were known as British subjects. This important piece of legislation meant that for the first time we could truly call ourselves Australians.

The first Australian citizenship ceremony took place at Albert Hall in Canberra on 3 February 1949. Seven men, one representing each state of Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, became citizens at this ceremony. The men were from Greece, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Spain, Czechoslovakia, France and Norway.

First new Australian citizens following the inaugural naturalisation ceremony in 1949.

First new Australian citizens following the inaugural naturalisation ceremony in 1949.

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

Since the first citizenship ceremony 65 years ago, 4.6 million people have chosen to become Australian citizens.

In 2012-13 more than 3200 citizenship ceremonies took place across the nation with approximately 123 000 people becoming Australian citizens. The top five countries of previous citizenship were the United Kingdom, India, Philippines, China and South Africa.

Australia has been built by the combined contributions of Indigenous Australians and generations of migrants and their descendants. While we come from a diverse range of backgrounds, we share a common future as Australians.

How you can get involved

Celebrate the 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship in 2014 on social media with #AusPledge.

  • Add a message, photo or video to the anniversary e-card
  • Share your Australian citizenship story, photos and videos with us on social media using #AusPledge.
  • Learn more about the history of Australia citizenship and see photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from the past 65 years.
  • Keep up-to-date with citizenship events and ceremonies across the country.
  • Watch our miniseries The Pledge on YouTube as we follow the stories of new Australian citizens.

Share your citizenship story

The Pledge – Miguel Maestre

The Pledge – Promo

History of Australian citizenship

Date Event
1914 United Kingdom National and Status of Aliens Act was adopted by British Commonwealth countries (with the exception of Ireland), providing a common code under which all British subjects had a common status throughout the British Commonwealth.
1946 Canada departed from the common code and enacted the Canadian Citizenship Act.
1947 Following consultations between Governments of British Commonwealth countries, the UK convened a conference of nationality experts. The key decision was that each Commonwealth country would have its own citizenship law defining its citizens and also declare those citizens to be British subjects.
1948 Australia passed legislation, the Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948.
1949 The Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on Australia Day, 26 January 1949.
1949 The first Australian citizenship ceremony was held on 3 February 1949 at Albert Hall, Canberra.

Did you know…

Notable Australian citizenship conferees of the past include:

  • ground-breaking medical specialists Professor Fiona Wood and Professor Fred Hollows
  • authors Bryce Courtney and John M. Coetzee
  • ballet dancer and author Li Cunxin
  • performers Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham.

Last modified Monday 15 September 2014