Newcastle to host biggest citizenship ceremony in NSW

23 Jan 2018

Newcastle is set to host the largest citizenship ceremony anywhere in NSW on Australia Day, with 180 people from 32 nations to make the pledge to Australia at City Hall.

The ceremony will be the largest of its type in Newcastle's history.

"It's always a highlight of Australia Day to welcome new citizens and it is exciting to think of how many are included in this year's ceremony," Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes said.

"The diversity of people taking the pledge is a reminder of the rich cultural and social fabric that we as a city hold so dear. It's an honour to officially welcome them to Australia and to this great city they now call home."

The Friday 26 January ceremony will also include the presentation of the 2018 Australia Day Awards, comprising Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year and Community Group of the Year.

Ms Nelmes said the awards recognised outstanding achievements in, and contribution to, the community over the past 12 months.

"The aim is to recognise people from Newcastle who are working tirelessly and often thanklessly in their community."

Also on hand will be a team of NEW Crew Council volunteers, offering assistance, handing out Aussie treats and saying g'day to the new citizens.

Australia Day ambassador Peter Gibbs, founder of the IPROWD program helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people join the NSW Police Force, will also preside over the citizenship ceremony.

Mr Gibbs grew up in north-west NSW and is now based in Sydney, but spent some of his formative teen life in Newcastle.

"Newcastle gave me the confidence to take my next step in life," he said.

"The city offers so much opportunity and I am proud to now be involved in its citizenship ceremony. It demonstrates how Australia welcomes people who want to make a contribution to our community."

Catholic nun Sister Di Santleben was recognised as Citizen of the Year in 2017 for supporting refugee families. University of Newcastle student Phillip Johnson was named Young Citizen of the Year for student advocacy and women's group One to One was Community Group of the Year.

This year's ceremony starts at 9am Australia Day in City Hall's main concert hall.