Melbourne welcomes new citizens in Australian-first online pilot

Seven Melburnians will today become the first new Australians to get their citizenship through a virtual citizenship ceremony hosted by a Local Council.

Acting Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said it is more important than ever to welcome new citizens to our community.

“Australian citizenship is an immense privilege and fundamental to our national identity,” Mr Tudge said.

“While the current health pandemic has meant we can’t hold ceremonies in the usual way, we still want to celebrate Australian citizenship and ensure as many people as possible are able to commit to Australia during this tough time.

“The Federal Government has been trialling online ceremonies for some weeks now, and we expect 90,000 people will receive their citizenship in this way over the next six months. I commend the City of Melbourne for helping with this trial so we can get councils back involved in these great events.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the City of Melbourne was proud to partner with the Australian Government as the first council in the country to pilot online citizenship ceremonies, which would be held at Melbourne Town Hall, and in homes around the city via Zoom.

“Securing citizenship is incredibly important to new Australians, who have made the choice to commit to our country and bring the best of themselves and their heritage to create a fresh future here in Melbourne,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It is always a privilege for councils to share this special celebration and before COVID-19 restrictions the City of Melbourne would typically confer citizenship on several hundred people in a very large and exciting Town Hall sitting every few months. I am pleased and relieved that we can now continue to deliver our ceremonies by using technology innovatively.

“Citizenship ceremonies allow new Australians to demonstrate their shared aspirations for our country and access to the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship. It’s a very emotional moment for all involved.”

The Lord Mayor said Melbourne’s diversity was a great strength and the COVID-19 pandemic showed how all aspects of our community have come together to help slow the spread of the virus.

“Melburnians share 200 different cultures, speak 230 languages and dialects and practice more than 120 faiths,” the Lord Mayor said.

“As we all adjust to the challenges posed by COVID-19, we have seen many examples of Australians from all walks of life at their best. From essential workers who continue to put others first, to neighbours looking out for each other, and the millions of Australians who are making sacrifices and staying home to keep their fellow community members safe.

The City of Melbourne has worked closely with the Australian Department of Home Affairs to ensure the pilot online citizenship ceremonies meet legal requirements.

The City of Melbourne usually holds six to eight citizenship ceremonies each year, with about 100 new citizens participating in each ceremony.

Between 1 July 2010 and 31 March 2020, the City of Melbourne welcomed 7156 new Australian citizens and it is the fastest growing municipality in Australia.

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