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Tribunal: Member L Bygrave

The AAT affirmed a decision of a delegate of the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship. Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs (the Minister) refusing to grant the applicant Australian citizenship.

The applicant, an Iraqi citizen, had resided in Australia for six years on a permanent humanitarian visa. She started suffering issues with her mental health after arriving in Australia.

At the hearing her daughter told the Tribunal that, in about 2015, her mother started to cry constantly and could not explain why. The applicant’s daughter is her carer and she relies on others to help her with most things. She does not speak any English.

To be eligible for citizenship a person must sit the citizenship test, which assesses whether they can demonstrate English language skills, and an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. A person can be exempt from sitting and passing the citizenship test if they have a permanent or enduring physical or mental incapacity.

Policy guidelines on citizenship describe, for example, a person who is suffering long term depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or where a person has suffered a stroke.

The applicant’s psychiatrist described her symptoms as suggestive of a psychotic episode with a background of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Tribunal accepted her psychiatrist’s report that the applicant had not been able to learn English and did not know how to navigate streets or do her shopping.

However, the Tribunal, determined the evidence provided by the applicant from her psychiatrist was of limited relevance. This was because his reports did not provide a cognitive or psychological explanation for any diagnosis and did not refer to her mental capacity at the date she applied for citizenship. Finally, there was no evidence the applicant saw her psychiatrist regularly—only seeing him twice between 2016 and 2020.

Read the full decision