Australia’s multiculturalism was on display today in celebration of Australian Citizenship Day with more than 1,770 people from 91 countries expected to become Australian citizens at 14 ceremonies held across the nation.
Celebrated annually on September 17, Australian Citizenship Day helps raise community awareness of the meaning and value of Australian citizenship.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton congratulated all the conferees as they pledged their loyalty and commitment to Australia.
“Citizenship Day is not only a day of celebration for new conferees, but also a day for all Australians to remind ourselves what it means to be an Australian citizen,” Mr Dutton said.
“In our contemporary society, our shared citizenship is the single common and unifying bond, whether we are Australian by birth or by pledge.
“Now more than ever it is important to reflect on the values, responsibilities and privileges we share through Australian citizenship.
“Conferees this week come from all walks of life and represent the diversity of our nation.”
More than 5,980 people from 133 countries had Australian citizenship conferred at 89 citizenship ceremonies over the past week in recognition of Australian Citizenship Day.
The top countries of origin for conferees include India, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China.
Among the conferees who received their citizenship was Dr Rodrigo Teixiera, a Brazillian-born paediatric plastic surgeon at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and his family.
“It's a two-way process where we are becoming Australian citizens and embracing Australian values but it's also very nice to have Australia embracing us, receiving us so well and making this so special,” Dr Teixeria said.
In Sydney Irene Molinari and her husband were also conferred with citizenship today. Mrs Molinari was born in Poland in 1936 before her family chose to immigrate to Australia in 1950.
“Over the years my husband and I created a future for ourselves, our four children and eight grandchildren. I am very happy and love Australia and all the opportunities I have been given,” Mrs Molinari said.
In Tasmania Chinese-born He Hu was also conferred this week. Miss He works as an arts producer and interpreter and translator for the Governor of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Premier among others.
“Through my work I am able to create a bridge not only between Australian and Chinese artists, but between Australian and Chinese citizens,” Miss He said.
“The best thing about living in Australia is the freedom I have here and the clean air and water. This is why I want to become a citizen.”
Among the conferees in the ACT were members of the Sirohi family: Rekha Dahiya, Anil Kumar and their son Ojasv Sirohi, all originally from India. Since their arrival in 2012, Mr Kumar has been awarded Canberra’s Young Professional Engineer 2015 and Ms Dahiya has worked with Calvary Hospital and is currently working in ACT Health’s Physiotherapy Department.
“Australia is a culturally diverse country that welcomes and offers opportunity to those who wish to settle here. It is essential for me to give back to the country that has accepted me and my family and provided a wonderful opportunity to live, work and grow here. That is why I decided to become an Australian citizen,” Mr Kumar said.
Zimbabwe-born professional cricket player Friday Kasteni and his wife, Rudo, who works as a business advisory accountant, are excited about starting their new life together as Australian citizens in Darwin.
“Since I arrived in Australia we got married, bought a house and became part of a great church community. We love the simplicity and diversity that this country offers,” Mrs Kasteni said.
All of these people have become citizens in ceremonies across the country in recent days.
Last week I had the privilege of presiding over a ceremony at the Royal Adelaide Show where 42 people from 15 countries took their pledge.
More than five million people have become citizens since Australian citizenship was introduced in 1949.