Submission on Citizenship Act amendments: gendered impacts of strengthened English language proficiency test on migrant women

Researchers from the Population, Migration and Social Inclusion Focus Program and the Border Crossing Observatory have made a submission to the Australian Government on the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act under the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017. Part of the proposed amendments call for increased competency in English proficiency language tests. We have targeted our submission to focus on these particular amendments and the gendered impact they will have on asylum seeking, refugee and immigrant women from non-English speaking or ESL backgrounds living in the Australian community.

 We have provided evidence and recommendations to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee from our research projects regarding gender, caring and familial responsibilities as well as age considerations for women on a pathway towards citizenship, all of which we believe hinder access to English language and education opportunities for migrant women in Australia.

We have made the following two recommendations to the Committee:

  1. Do not increase the competency of the English language proficiency test under the proposed amendments to The Australian Citizenship Act as it will have a particularly negative impact on asylum seeking, refugee and non-English speaking or ESL immigrant women in the Australian community.
  2. If competency of the English language proficiency test is increased, then appropriate support services should accompany this. These should be targeted to key groups, such as mothers, recognising the significant and specific barriers they face in accessing education.

You can view our submission here and it will soon be available on the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee’s website.