Australia Day came early for 15 community members last Wednesday as they became permanent Australian residents in a citizenship ceremony at Mount Gambier City Hall.
Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin OAM presided over the ceremony and welcomed the crowd which included honoured citizens, their family and friends and local dignitaries.
In attendance was Minister for Primary Industries, Regional Development and Forestry Clare Scriven MLC, Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell, Mount Gambier Migrant Resource Centre manager Amanda Lindh and City of Mount Gambier chief executive officer Sarah Philpott, Councillor Josh Lynagh and Corporate and Regulatory Services general manager Jane Fetherstonhaugh.
Mayor Martin administered Australian Citizen Pledge 1 and 2 and presented certificates of Australian Citizenship to the 15 new citizens.
The Australian National Anthem was recited by Danni Reade and Minister Scriven spoke about her migrant parents and the pride they felt to become citizens.
Philippine migrant Gerald Santiago was one of the 15 people who received their official certificate of Australian Citizen from Mayor Martin as his work colleagues, sister, niece and nephew watched on in support.
Despite also having lived in Adelaide, Melbourne and Darwin since arriving in Australia in 2015, Mr Santiago said Mount Gambier was his favourite city to reside.
“It is busy but it is not too crazy, it is near Melbourne and Adelaide but not too near,” he said.
“I would say the people are really nice and I enjoy working in a great organisation.
“Sometimes as a migrant applying for a permanent residency is a struggle because of the everchanging rules.
“It was something that I have always wanted since I arrived in Australia, believing in the values of the people and also for what Australia stands for which is really multiculturalism and kindness, peace and those values that resonate for me as well.
“I am very excited not only for permanence but the fact that to get to choose something that I really wanted.
“I get to achieve it because of the many people that were backing me up with the whole journey and all the challenges that I encountered along the way.”