Harmony Day has been marked in Canberra today with a special Australian citizenship ceremony welcoming 135 people from 24 countries as Australia’s newest citizens.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton congratulated the new citizens as they pledged their loyalty and commitment to Australia.
“The ceremony provided an opportunity for new citizens to gather and stand united in our democratic beliefs and values and acknowledge the importance of what it means to become an Australian citizen,” Mr Dutton said.
“Today, Australia continues to weave a strong culture of acceptance and diversity into the fabric of the country by welcoming our new citizens.”
“Our diversity is our strength and what more fitting and symbolic way to celebrate the pride and joy that comes with being Aussie than on a day that fosters cross-cultural relationships and respect like Harmony Day.” Mr Dutton said.
Isabelle Chevreau who first visited Australia almost 17 years ago from France and now teaches Year One students at Canberra’s Telopea Park School, spoke of the special meaning the ceremony had for her.
“I fell in love with the country, the scenery, the outdoors, the people and the wildlife, despite a rough encounter with a big kangaroo in the Northern Territory,” Ms Chevreau said.
"Each time I come back from overseas landing in Sydney, it brings tears to my eyes. That is how I know I am home. I can't explain it. The same way I cry when I hear the Australian National Anthem.
“My dream would be one day to take my kids around the country on an extensive journey to discover their land, their culture, their heritage and realise how lucky they are to live here.”
Conferees attended from 24 countries including Bangladesh, France, Peru, South Africa and the United States. Senator Zed Seselja delivered a welcome message from Mr Dutton and presented the conferees with their Australian citizenship certificates.