Citizenship ceremony leads change and celebrates diversity

25 Jan 2023

City of Newcastle today welcomed 200 new Australian citizens at its first citizenship ceremony for 2023 at the Civic Theatre.

In a historic first, the ceremony was held on 25 January following changes by the Federal Government to allow Councils to hold the mandated annual ceremony “on or around” 26 January.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the community had called for the ceremony to be moved to a more culturally inclusive date.

“This is one of the most special days in many new citizens’ lives, remembered for years to come,” Cr Nelmes said.

“City of Newcastle prides itself on social and cultural inclusivity and is pleased to embrace and facilitate this change for the community.”

The ceremony featured traditional performances and an Acknowledgement of Country by the Deadly Callaghan Yidaki Group and celebrated Newcastle’s rich multicultural community, with 53 birth countries represented, from Brazil to Norway to Vietnam.

Among the new citizens to make the pledge of commitment were City of Newcastle Project Manager, Daniel Elia, his wife Mabel and their 11-year-old daughter, Danibel.

The Elermore Vale family of four are now all proudly Australian citizens, after their 18-year-old son, John, was granted an expedited online ceremony as a student at the height of COVID-19 restrictions in October 2021.

Ecuadorian-born Daniel and Filipino-born Mabel met working at an engineering firm in Dubai, where they married in 2002. Sixteen years later, they began their journey to Australia, first settling in Sydney for two years before relocating to Newcastle.

Some of the projects Mr Elia has worked on include erosion protection works in various locations at Stockton Beach and renovations at Blackbutt Reserve, while this year he is involved in upgrades to City Hall and Civic Theatre, the very building he received his citizenship in.

Mr Elia said he was proud to call Newcastle home and was thrilled to become an Australian citizen.

“I like Newcastle because it’s so accessible, wherever you want to go you can get there in 15 minutes. There’s no traffic and it’s peaceful," he said.

“It feels like I’m becoming part of the community and I’m fully integrated with the people here, living in peace and harmony with everyone. It’s a nice, safe place that embraces people from all over the world with fairness and equality. Even in the office I can speak to people in French, Spanish; it’s so diverse.”

Family-friendly entertainment options on 26 January, include the Beach 5s Rugby Festival at Nobbys Beach and the iconic Newcastle Harbour Swim.

Beach Rugby 5s is an exciting and fast-paced mixture of rugby union and rugby league. CN has worked collaboratively with Hickey Sports Management to develop the inclusive program for the event, which will be held at Nobbys Beach on Thursday 26, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January.

A special "Legends Match" will kick off at 1pm on 26 January.

Nobbys Beach offers an idyllic vantage point for spectators to soak up all the excitement of the Australia Day long weekend tournament.

CN is also supporting the 2023 Australia Day Newcastle Harbour Swim, which is the only legal swim across our amazing working harbour.