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Tribunal: Senior Member J  Kelly

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) reviewed a decision made by the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs (the Department) to reject a request for exemption to sit the Citizenship exam (21(3)(d) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007). 

The applicant claims to have permanent or enduring physical or mental incapacity which renders her incapable of understanding the Citizenship application process, the English language and acquire a sound knowledge of Australian practices.

The applicant submitted evidence from her psychiatrist, psychologist and general practitioner which supported her assertion that she is both physically and mentally incapacitated due to a long history of depression, anxiety and PTSD. In these submissions, the medical care staff provided detailed accounts of the hardships that Mrs. Amiri had endured both here and in Afghanistan and also the debilitating symptoms she suffers due to the loss of her husband and son. 

The Tribunal also heard evidence from a consultant clinical psychologist who provided two reports on the applicant’s mental capacity. These findings indicated that although the applicant does indeed suffer from the symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD, there cannot be a consensus with recommendations provided as by the applicant’s witnesses. 

The report stated that there was insufficient evidence to indicate any substantial functional or mental impairment adding that the result of the cognitive tests prescribed were ‘implausible’. It was further suggested that the applicant demonstrated ‘a lack of concerted effort’ when it came to learning the English language and gaining knowledge about Australian practices. 

The report concluded that it could not support the notion that the applicant was not capable of understanding the nature of the application and demonstrating an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

The Tribunal found that neither of the experts who provided evidence in support of Ms Amiri clearly explained the incapacity resulting from her conditions.  As such, the Tribunal found the applicant does not satisfy the requirement for exemption from the provisions in the Act.  The Tribunal decided to affirm original findings of the Department and to deny the exemptions sought.

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