Discussion Paper to Stir Debate on Defining Citizenship
20 August 2015 at 10:36 am
The Scanlon Foundation has released a discussion paper exploring the changing concept of citizenship and its role in maintaining and fostering social cohesion in Australia.
As part of its annual national Mapping Social Cohesion research, the Scanlon Foundation said its new Citizenship Discussion Paper explores how Australia’s economic, political and personal relationships are rapidly shifting.
It said the key issues impacting these changes include globalisation and the evolving understanding of what it means to be a “good citizen”.
CEO of the Scanlon Foundation, Anthea Hancocks, said she hoped the paper would be a catalyst for public discussion about the importance of citizenship, and its link to factors affecting social cohesion, including belonging, worth, social justice, participation, and acceptance and rejection.
“Research suggests that being a formal citizen has a positive effect on an individual’s sense of identity in Australia,” Hancocks said.
“But citizenship is more than a formal legal status, and this discussion paper reflects on the notion of citizenship in the genuine, rather than the technical sense – including one’s duties, obligations and functions as a member of society.
“We hope that this discussion paper provides a basis for further thought and debate that may help to shape productive initiatives that contribute to maintaining and protecting social cohesion in Australia.”
The paper also explores how relationships – economic, social, political and personal – are being transformed through the ubiquitous nature of social media and online connectivity, and questions the influence of multiple citizenships on the rise of the global citizen.
“Citizenship, as practised in all its forms within Australia, should be about inclusion. But as our society evolves along with geopolitical and economic changes, technological advances and the human responses to those developments, the ways in which Australia and Australians promote, perceive and exercise citizenship will demand, and deserve, constant, candid re-evaluation,” Hancocks said.
Executive Director of The Australian Multicultural Foundation, Dr Hass Dellal AO, said understanding the factors that underpin social cohesion – including the important role of citizenship – is crucial to maintaining a functional society and positive future outlook.
“Being a loyal Australian and a global citizen are not mutually exclusive concepts, and in fact, developing deeper ties to the rest of the world may actually go a long way in ensuring our nation’s future security and prosperity,” Dr Dellal said.
“With a growing population, and the increased threat of those wanting to divide us, understanding the changing role of citizenship and the rights and responsibilities that come with it is more important than ever,” he said.
Download the discussion paper HERE