Hammoud and Minister for Home Affairs (Citizenship) [2018] AATA 4752 (11 December 2018)

If you have committed domestic violence offence, you are presumed to not be a person of good character. This will mean that you cannot become an Australian citizen. The ‘good character’ provisions of Australian Citizenship requirements is quite broadly defined and even if you have a history of traffic offences, you may not be able to meet that high threshold.

What are the character requirements for a Citizenship Application?

Section 21 of the Citizenship Act provides that a person can apply to become an Australian citizen. One of the legal requirements is that the Minister must be satisfied they are of ‘good character’ at the time of the Minister’s decision on the application.

Unlike the Migration Act, there is no character test defined within the Act and there is no further guidance as to what constitutes good character. Nevertheless, the Citizenship Policy and Australian Citizenship Instructions provides some guidance as to what may constitute ‘good character’.

The leading case as to what is considered when looking at a person’s character is found in Irving v Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs [1996] FCA 663. ‘Good Character’ should be understood in its ordinary sense and is not limited to considering the following:

  • Enduring moral qualities; and

  • Standing, fame or repute within the community.

This definition is rather broad because it looks at how the person has demonstrated themselves over a very long period of time and whether they overall behaviour can be seen as ‘good character’.

Some other factors which clearly demonstrate a person is not of good factor is found within policy as:

  • Does not respect and abide by the law in Australia;

  • Harms others through their own conduct;

  • Has not shown remorse;

  • Continues to disregard the law etc.

This is not an exhaustive list. This opens up to the possibility of not being able to obtain Australian citizenship if a person was found to have contravened a range of laws even if they are not ‘serious’ within the spectrum of crimes. This could include a long history of traffic offences.

What happened in Hammoud[1]?

In Hammoud, he was convicted in 2014 of Common Assault and was given a 12 months bond.

The general circumstances of that offence involved domestic violence including abusive language and physical harm.

With reference to another case, Ahori and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2017] AATA 601, it was confirmed that there was a presumption that a person convicted of a domestic violence offence would not be a person of good character.

Although this was a once-off offence committed over 5 years ago and this was considered by Tribunal to be quite a long time ago, and Hammoud had not been convicted of any other offences, he was still seen as a person without good character.

This decision was recently affirmed by the Tribunal.  

So what does this mean?

There is a rather high threshold for ‘good character’ in order to become an Australian citizen.

If you have any sort of criminal history including trivial offences or traffic offences, you should consult an experienced immigration lawyer to see whether this would affect your current Citizenship or future application for Australian citizenship.

At Agape Henry Crux,, our lawyers are well trained to handle highly complex matters so book one of our lawyers to seek professional advice now by calling 02-72002700 or email us to book in a time at info@ahclawyers.com .

[1] Hammoud and Minister for Home Affairs (Citizenship) [2018] AATA 4752 (11 December 2018)