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Media Release: 332,080 new citizens to vote on September 7

26 August 20130 comments

More than 332,000 new Australians will vote for the first time in next week’s the federal election.

These people, identified by the Australian Electoral Commission as overseas-born new enrolees since 2010, have come to Australia as migrants, refugees or asylum seekers.

For the first time they will be exercising their most basic democratic right as Australian citizens. For many it will be culmination of extraordinary journeys of escape from fear, violence or repression.

Settlement agency AMES has helped many of these new Australians in their passage to citizenship.

AMES Chief Executive Cath Scarth said that for many people who have come from countries embroiled in conflict or governed by repressive regimes, being able to vote in a fair and transparent election was “a dream come true”.

“Australians take for granted their right to decide who governs the country and the notion that elections are fair and free from corruption,” Ms Scarth said.

“However, for many new citizens of Australia – especially those who have fled corrupt or repressive regimes – the right to vote is something to cherish and protect,” she said.

“We find that one of the main reasons refugees and asylum seekers leave their home country is to find safety and security.

“But another reason is the chance to participate in a democratic civil society. For many new citizens, the right to vote is an affirmation of their refusal to accept life under brutal, corrupt or repressive governments,” Ms Scarth said.

The Australian Electoral Commission has produced material to help new citizens vote and has employed Cultural Engagement Officers to assist members of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities to cast their votes.

Information translated in 26 languages is available at the Australian Electoral Commission.

“Some new citizens may have difficulty in understanding how the election process works or how they cast their vote – this may be because of language or cultural barriers,” Ms Scarth said.

“The AEC resources will help newly arrived Australians access their democratic rights,” she said.

For images, interviews and more information please contact AMES Media Advisor, Laurie Nowell at or  9938 4031 or 0498 196 500.