Big turnout as over 50 new Australians take the oath in Strathfield

Justin Herald, Strathfield’s ambassador, offered this example of what it means to be Australian at Strathfield Council’s Australia Day celebrations this morning:

“Being an Australian is about driving a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer; and then driving home with an Indian curry or Turkish kebab, enjoying dinner sitting on Swedish furniture and watching American television.”

A large crowd laughed and applauded, watching as some of Australia’s newest citizens took the oath and received their certificates.

The annual Australia Day Celebrations were a grand affair – but tinged with just a little regret.

Save Our Strathfield campaigners posed with Mayor Sang Ok, and questioned whether he would be the municipality’s last, given the state government’s recent report recommending amalgamation with Bruwood and Canada Bay.

The ceremony was attended by Federal Member for Reid Craig Laundy, State Member for Strathfield Jodi McKay and Councillors Raj Datta, Stephanie Kokkolis and Daniel Bott.

Cr Ok’s opening speech resonated with many guests as he shared his personal story of becoming an Australian citizen over 15 years ago.

“Australia Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the rich culture of Australia. We live in a country that promotes fairness, a great example of this is Strathfield where more than 50 percent of residents have migrant heritage. I am delighted to welcome all new citizens,” he said.

 

Strathfield’s new Citizen of the Year Ivana Morris was honoured for her volunteer work on children’s welfare and with The Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Strathfield South School student Jaffer Naeem was chosen as Strathfield’s Young Citizen of the Year for his work in the Council’s youth advisory committee and educating senior citizens to use technology.

The ceremony started with a aboriginal dance performance by Koomurri group, where a dancer swirled on the beats of didgeridoo, followed by flag hoisting by Enfield scouts.

“You all have your own individual stories and today your stories become part of our Australian story. I want you to pass on your stories to your children, the battles of your ancestors, the struggles that you all went through, the story that sits behind your family and your decision to become Australian citizen.

“We are the most successful country for multiculturalism in the world, because we are young and free. One day your children will be responsible to pass on your story to their children. I encourage you to get involved in the community, because the more you put in to your local community the more you will get back,” said Mr Laundy.

Emotions ran high during the citizenship ceremony with over 50 residents taking oath as new Australian citizens.

Each of them had a unique story to share, like Aleksander Arsenijevic from Serbia who became an Australian citizen after 8 years. “I met my wife Stevka, an Australian of Serbian descent in Serbia. Her family has been here for 33 years now and its a great moment for me,” he told the Scene.

Omar Yassine was elated to see wife Fatme Rajab become an Australian citizen.

“Why don’t you tell your story, its a great example of a multicultural Australia,” said Mr Yassine to his wife Fatme.

“I am very excited and happy to be an Australian today. I have lived here for 9 years, I was born in Kuwait and I used to teach Arabic in Lebanon. I have travelled a lot but Australia is home now, it’s a great feeling,” said Fatme. 

For India-born IT professional Shanmugariya Ramalingam, it was a joyous occasion as she took the oath with her ten year old son Shakthiram.

“It’s a proud moment for both of us to become Australian citizens on Australia Day. Today is also India’s Republic Day, so this makes it more special. My son is very young so he’s growing up amidst an Australian culture and friends, but for me its different as I have brought my values to this country, I am looking forward to new learnings and beginnings in Australia.”

More families joined the celebrations after the ceremony over sausage sizzle, face painting and interactive games to entertain the kids. A mini reptile display featuring a baby salt water crocodile, tortoise, iguanas and lizards amongst others proved to be big hit amongst the kids.

Strathfield resident Peter David Freedman joins the Australia Day Honours today as Member (AM)in the General Division for significant service to business, manufacturing and export in the professional audio sector, and through philanthropic support for cultural events.


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