Citizenship preparatory class comes to Casey

A group shot of the student and the coordinators from SMRC. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 406240_01

By Violet Li

Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre (SMRC) launched its Citizenship Preparation Classes in Casey on Monday 20 May at the Connected Libraries in Bunjil Place.

The program aims to help students understand Australian laws and ways of living in Australia and connect with the Australian culture.

The classes are also tailored to each student’s pace and cover all aspects of the application as well as the testable citizenship content. Students can get a free membership of the library and access all the resources available.

The organization has run the classes over the last number of years in the Greater Dandenong and has seen a significant increase in demand in Casey.

Chief executive officer Rakesh Sharma recognised the challenges many newly arrived migrants face in understanding the citizenship application process and the positive impact these classes have.

“It allows new citizens to fully engage in all aspects of life here, from political to personal, strengthening the fabric of our community,” he said.

“Obtaining Australian citizenship is far more than just a legal formality – it’s a pivotal step towards securing one’s future and ensuring long-term stability.

“Citizenship opens doors to employment opportunities, housing, essential rights and protections that safeguard individuals and families.

“It provides a profound sense of belonging toward the nation’s ideals, values, and principles. It signifies a shared bond among citizens and a collective responsibility towards the common good.”

Deputy chairperson Wicki Wickiramasingham said it gave him great pleasure to extend the classes for citizenship preparation.

“I know the difficulties,” he said.

“Many migrants came and approached me. They failed the exam three times, then they can’t sit for the exam. They will have to apply and reapply again, and they need about $500 to pay for the application fees.”

Holt MP Cassandra Fernando attended the launching ceremony and supported the program.

She shared her family’s story of passing the citizenship tests more than a decade ago.

“As a young girl and a boy for my brother, we had to teach my parents about civics,” she said.

“It was very hard for them because the older you get, the more a lot don’t retain.

“I’ll never forget that we got the book, and we went through the book about 1000 times before we did practice tests.

“We were equipped when we went because at that time it was a lot of money, and we couldn’t afford to go two or three times.”

Students spoke out about their difficulties after the ceremony, which mainly revolved around English learning.

“When I read this book, I know all of them in my language. But I can’t translate. This is the problem,” one student said.

Ms Fernando acknowledged that sometimes the test was complicated to confuse the participants.

“That’s something that we’re looking into as a Labor Government, to try to simplify just a little bit so everyone can understand,” she said

To enroll in the class, you can send a request to, or call the reception of SMRC at 03 9767 1900.