Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony welcomes 100 new Australians
Our City's Australia Day celebrations began early with our Morning Ceremony which included a Flag Raising Ceremony, followed by our Citizenship Ceremony. Guests were welcomed by a Welcome to Country before we warmly welcomed 100 new citizens from 41 countries.
This year also marked 70 years since Australian citizenship was introduced into law, creating for the first time a legal status of being uniquely Australian. To mark the occasion all new citizens were given a special limited edition coin printed by Perth Mint. The coins commemorate the 70th anniversary of Australian citizenship. Australia’s national flower, the golden wattle, is featured on the coin and delicately coloured card.
The proceedings also include a presentation of the Australia Day WA Citizen of the Year Awards, acknowledging those individuals and organisations that make a notable contribution during the year, and/or those who have given outstanding service over a number of years.
The Ted Maslen Award is also presented to the student resident who achieves the highest score of all year 12 students within the City of South Perth.
The Morning Ceremony was a moment to pause and reflect on what it means to be Australian.
We were fortunate to have the Honourable Kim Beazley Governor of Western Australia attend our ceremony and address us.
Below is my 2019 Australia Day address which I thought I'd share with you. My focus was on community and the importance of social connectedness.
2019 Australia Day address
I wish to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we are gathering – the 'Whatjuk' people of the Noongar Nation and pay my respects to elders both past and present, and specifically to thank James Kearing Senior for his welcome to country.
I would also like thank the brilliant New Era Baha’i Choir whose presence is memorable each year with their stunning outfits and moving performances.
It is a privilege to be here today. The land we are gathered upon has a very long and rich history. The South Perth area is the country of the Beeloo Noongar people, or river people. Noongar people who used this area were known as Gareen and their place was Gareenup.
To the west of where we are today was an important camping and fishing area, situated between the present day Richardson Park and Mill Point - this area was referred to as Booryulup or the place of the Booryul or magic people. The area stretched for approximately one and a half kilometres of foreshore and 150 metres into the bushland to the east of Melville Water. Today this foreshore reserve is called Milyu which is an Aboriginal word for the samphire plant, a native succulent.
Summer in the City of South Perth is a special time, and the magnificent Sir James Mitchell Park where we are celebrating today’s Citizenship and Awards Ceremony is very special too - welcome everyone. In particular I extend a warm welcome to those about to become Australia’s newest citizens.
This citizenship ceremony is being conducted today, the 26th day of January 2019, as is prescribed by the Australian Citizenship Act and under the authority of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.
In my capacity as the Mayor of the City of South Perth, I have been delegated as a person before whom the Australian Citizenship Pledge of Commitment as a Citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia shall be made.
Making the Australian Citizenship Pledge is the final step in you becoming an Australian citizen. Today you make a remarkable promise. May you always cherish it.
Our City is home to approximately 44,000 people, with over one third of the community born overseas in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, China, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore and Iran just to name a few. This rich tapestry of cultures contributes to making our City so special and as Mayor I am particularly proud of our diversity.
Australia Day is a chance to recognise our history and celebrate contemporary Australia. It’s a day when we embrace the opportunities available as a multicultural, diverse and democratic nation and we recognise our remarkable people who make our nation special and unique, from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - who have been here for more than 65,000 years - to those who have lived here for generations, to those who have come from all corners of the globe to call our country home.
It’s also a day to remind ourselves of those things we can be thankful for. I am personally thankful for my family, my neighbours and the community of which I am part of here in the City of South Perth, the street and suburb I live in.
Being part of a safe, inclusive, and connected community where people respect each other and we feel united through the relationships we have developed and continue to nurture is central to our wellbeing.
This concept of community, compassion and social cohesion is one that the Australian social researcher and writer Hugh Mackay explores in his book, Australia Reimagined: Towards a more compassionate, less anxious society.
He believes, “the better world you dream of starts in your street…, in the sense that how we choose to live will help to determine the kind of neighbourhood ours will become.
Mackay says: We all know how to be neighbours when disaster strikes – a bushfire, a flood, a cyclone or some more personal crisis in our street. What a tragedy it would be if we became the sort of people who needed a catastrophe to galvanise us into being good neighbours.
So a call to become more compassionate is partly, perhaps mainly, a plea to do all the simple things that good neighbours routinely do: smile and say hello when you pass someone in a local street, or wait with them at a bus stop.
Be especially alert to the well-being of anyone in your street, or your apartment block, who you know is at risk of social isolation particularly the frail elderly. Keep in touch with them; be ready to offer practical support – even if it’s only the gift of listening.
Engage with local groups – book clubs, community choirs, community gardens, events at your local library, sporting and service clubs, neighbourhood associations, faith communities – anything that will put you in touch with what’s going on in your local area, and make you more aware of people potentially in need of your help. Organise occasional street parties or picnics in the local park. If you really need an excuse, invite the neighbours in for a drink to celebrate Australia Day.
The City of South Perth as a local government, along with urban planners, architects and designers pay attention to creating the spaces and places that foster local community interaction – parks, piazza, gardens, walking tracks, libraries, playgrounds, child-care centres, cafes – any community hubs that encourage personal interaction.
Each of us needs to recognise that we are not only members of a family, or of friendship circles, or of workplace communities; we are also neighbours, and that’s an important and distinctive dimension of our role as citizens. Social virtue demands that we treat everyone kindly and respectfully – especially those we disagree with about politics or religion, or anything else.
Social interaction builds social cohesion; social cohesion builds social capital; social capital builds strong societies. And compassion is like the high-octane fuel that drives the machinery of social cohesion.
On Australia Day, we like to acknowledge and celebrate Aussie heroes. Let me suggest that, this year, we also acknowledge the unsung heroism of all those people who are already helping to create a culture of compassion; people who are quietly devoting themselves to the wellbeing of others, especially those in their neighbourhood most at risk of social isolation.
As Mahatma Gandhi put it: ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’
Today we all unite as Australians to celebrate this land we call “home.” Here we enjoy great freedom – whether it be freedom of speech, freedom of religion or freedom of the press. These are liberties we must remind ourselves not to take for granted.
Today we have before us 100 grantees from 41 countries who have chosen to be part of a great tradition in accepting citizenship of Australia.
Shortly, our new citizens will stand before us, and pledge their commitment to our country, our people, our democratic beliefs, our laws, our rights and our liberties.
To our new citizens – we welcome you; we offer you a share in Australia’s bright future; and we thank you for choosing to call Australia home.
May Australia Day be a special day for each and every one of you here today, a day to remember for years to come.
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