Moree welcomed 13 new Australian citizens at a citizenship ceremony at Moree Plains Shire Council on Thursday.
The new Australians hail from New Zealand, Thailand, Germany, Fiji and South Africa and include Sylvester, Colleen, Kellam and Jenovah Joseph from Fiji; Daniel, Rita, Dwayne and Julian Van der Craght from South Africa; Prasaneenart Harrison from Thailand; Guido Weissflog from Germany; Martin Jelinek from New Zealand, Khampun Dinongpet from Thailand, and Yvette Landman from South Africa.
Having been living in Australia permanently for nearly five years after first coming to Moree to work on a farm as a backpacker, Guido Weissflog was very proud to finally become a citizen on Thursday.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I came out here as a backpacker 10 years ago and just fell in love with the country and the people. Everyone is so friendly and it’s very easy to be in Australia.
“It just felt good right from the start and I just wanted to be part of society and have a say in the election process.”
Sylvester Joseph, his wife Colleen and two eldest children Kellam and Jenovah also took the oath to become Australian citizens, and now join their youngest son and brother Beau, who is already a resident, having been born in Australia. The family have been in Australia for 11 years.
“I became an Australian citizen so I could give my children and my family the opportunity that we otherwise wouldn’t have had as Fijian citizens,” Mr Joseph said.
One of the younger new Aussies, Dwayne Van der Craght said his family also chose to become Australian citizens for a better life.
“To have a better education and also to have freedom,” he said. “I feel excited and scared but really happy.”
Mayor Katrina Humphries swore in the new citizens which she said reinforces Moree Plains as a multicultural community that welcomes immigrants and refugees.
“I love the line in our National Anthem, ‘with boundless plains to share’,” she said.
“It captures the sentiment of our community; the black soil plains that provide so much opportunity to the friendly faces so willing to embrace diversity.”
Cr Humphries presented the conferee’s with a copy of council’s coffee table book In Plain View and a native tree as a symbol of new beginnings, new experiences and for a prosperous, happy and fruitful life in Australia.