More than 65 people from 22 nations around the world have been welcomed as Australian Citizens at a ceremony in Lake Macquarie.
In 2017, Erns and Aninke Hattingh decided to move from South Africa to Australia to start a family – here they would raise their two children Klara, now aged 3 and Jano, five-months-old.
Today, they became Australian citizens.
“We’re really excited, it’s been a long journey – this is something that we’ve been working toward and praying for,” Mr Hattingh said.
“We came to Australia to give our children a better future and opportunities.”
“We want to contribute to Australia and society.”
The citizenship ceremony at Rathmines Theatre included new Australians hailing from Belarus, Canada, Chile, China, Iran, Nepal, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Lake Macquarie has welcomed more than 1700 new citizens since 2016, including 362 over six citizenship ceremonies this year.
Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser, who presided over the ceremony at Rathmines Theatre, said seeing people from so many backgrounds and cultures take the Citizenship Pledge was always an honour.
“Welcoming people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe to Lake Macquarie enriches our community and makes us who we are today,” she said.
“Some have lived here most of their lives. Others are much more recent arrivals, and each has a unique story about why and how they came here.
“But they all bring skills, passions and life experiences that add to the fabric of our community.”