Booking for an Australian Citizenship Test nowadays is a headache. I tried to book my wife for a test last week but the gentleman at the other end told me that there was no slot available and I have to call this week. Today (01 June 2009), I called the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) hotline 131880 and the lady at the other end told me the same thing – there is no slot available and she told me to call another day. I asked her “what day” and she answered she does not know. I told her if she does not know the specific date to call her that it means I have to call the Department everyday? “If you have to”, she answered. Of course, I have to. How can I have an appointment for my wife’s test if I will not call? And if you do call everyday, there is no guarantee that you can get a booking or if it is ever available. This means that you have to pay the telephone company whenever you call DIAC for something that you or them are not sure of. It is a “hit or miss” scenario where the only winner is the telephone company. To make the matter worst, DIAC can never tell you when and how any slot will be ever available.
I do not really know the real reason why the DIAC is doing this. They can’t tell when you can make the booking. They won’t take your name for future booking. So what’s the use of reading the book “Becoming an Australian citizenship” when you would not know when you are going to take the test? Should you read it everyday? How can you prepare for the test?
If the lack of computers or staff is the problem, why can’t DIAC give a “paper-based test?” This is more economocal because a lot of people can take the test with minimum staff. To minimise telephone cost, can aspiring test taker just leave their details and availability on DIAC’s website? It is like booking for a flight where one can see the available dates and locations of the test and if situation arises, one can easily cancel and rebook. Something has to be done!