Almost 100 new Aussies have flown the flag for cultural diversity at a citizenship ceremony in Lake Macquarie to coincide with Harmony Week.
A total of 98 people from 28 countries took the Citizenship Pledge at Rathmines Theatre on Friday morning, with friends and family watching on.
People from all walks of life and all corners of the globe were among the participants, with many dressed in their home nation’s traditional outfits for the ceremony.
From Iran to Ireland, and from New Zealand to Nepal, each had a different story to tell about how they ended up Down Under, but they all shared one thing in common: they’re happy to call Australia home.
Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser, who presided over the ceremony, welcomed the new citizens.
“Harmony Week is all about celebrating diversity in Australia, and what better way than to embrace new citizens and the culture, history and traditions they bring with them,” she said.
“I love hearing the stories of how people ended up here in beautiful Lake Macquarie, and appreciate the fact they have chosen this is their place to settle.
Kofoworola and Olusegun Ogunyomi moved to Australia from Nigeria five years ago, and have since welcomed three beautiful children.
“We wanted a change and decided to choose Australia,” Ms Ogunyomi said.
“It has been a land of opportunity for us. It’s is freedom, peace and diversity of culture – so many things.”
Dressed in traditional Scottish kilt and sporran, Aaron Shaw celebrated becoming an Australian citizen more than 20 years after moving here.
“I was a souvenir – a trophy of my wife’s travels around Europe,” he joked.
“Becoming a citizen allows me to take my place alongside everyone else. I’ve been working the whole time I’ve been here and I’d like to have a say in where my taxes go. I want to have a say about what happens to this country.”
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles said that more than half of all Australians were either born overseas, or had at least one parent born abroad.
“We have different backgrounds and life experiences, but we all believe in our shared values based on freedom, respect, fairness and equality of opportunity,” he said.