Newcastle’s newest citizens take the pledge

07 Sep 2022

City of Newcastle welcomed more than 220 new Australian citizens from 51 countries today in what was the city’s largest face-to-face Citizenship Ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the Democratic Republic of Congo to Azerbaijan and the Ukraine, Newcastle’s newest citizens, their families and friends joined with dignitaries to make the pledge of commitment to Australia at the iconic Civic Theatre.

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Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Newcastle is a diverse and inclusive community that embraced new citizens from all cultures and religious backgrounds.

“Newcastle has a long and proud history as a progressive, welcoming city in which 14 per cent of residents were born overseas and 134 different languages other than English are spoken at home,” Cr Nelmes said.

“It is an honour to welcome our city’s largest cohort of new citizens face-to-face since before the start of the pandemic and wish them well on their journey to a bright new beginning.

“City of Newcastle has gained more than 160 new Australian citizens this year, and today’s cohort takes that tally to more than 380. Our new citizens are now able to enrol to vote in elections, exercising their democratic rights, apply for an Australian passport and seek broader employment opportunities.”

Among those taking the pledge today was Olha Hoshko from the Ukraine, who settled in Stockton in 2016 after meeting her Novocastrian-born husband and has since gone on to receive her Certificate III in Childcare.

“This is a happy yet sad time for me as I lost my mother in the Ukraine last year and my family are unable to travel due to the war to be here to celebrate with me today,” Mrs Hoshko said.

“I love Newcastle. I’ve visited Sydney and Melbourne and only wanted to move to Newcastle as it’s a smaller city and reminds me of home, Lviv, in western Ukraine.

“I’ve also recently started working for the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) on a helpline called Witness to War as a Ukrainian bi-cultural support worker.”

Today’s ceremony featured a traditional didgeridoo performance by the Deadly Callaghan Yidaki Group, as well as musical items by The Grainery Church.

Proud Newcastle Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheryl Smith continued the tradition of her father, the late Uncle Bill Smith, in delivering a Welcome to Country that acknowledged the lifestyles, cultures and spiritual beliefs of the traditional custodians of the land.

City of Newcastle’s next citizenship ceremony will be held in January 2023 at the Civic Theatre.