Seventeen new citizens

WELLINGTON Shire officially welcomed 17 new citizens earlier this week, after they swore fealty to Australia at a ceremony in Sale.

People from India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Thailand, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Fiji, Germany, the Philippines, China and Pakistan celebrated with their close friends and family as they swore their allegiance to their new home, Australia, on Monday afternoon.

Each new citizen was presented with a native sapling as a symbol of their new lives as Australians.

Mayor Peter Cleary offered his congratulations to the newest citizens in Wellington Shire.

“You are about to undertake a new allegiance, a new responsibility,” Cr Cleary said.

“You are about to take on a new status here in Australia, and wherever you may travel in the world.

“It is a status of which you may be proud, the status of a nation which is independent and free.”

Kirstie Valdez, formerly of the Philippines, said her new citizen status was the beginning of a new chapter of her life.

“I’m so happy, I feel like I finally belong now,” Ms Valdez said.

“I hope I can make a good contribution to this country.”

Wellington Shire Council chief executive David Morcom echoed Cr Cleary’s sentiments, wishing the citizens all the best for their new lives in Australia.

The citizenship ceremony was also witnessed by grade six students from Sale Primary School, who were carrying out a module of the Rotary Junior Community Leadership Award.

The award states that students have to attend numerous community events, including volunteering and skill building. The students attended the ceremony in a bid to gain a better understanding of what it means to be an Australian citizen.