Newcastle welcomes 150 new citizens online in City first

01 Sep 2021

City of Newcastle today welcomed close to 150 new citizens from 39 countries online in a COVID first for the City.

Following advice from the Department of Home Affairs permitting group ceremonies to be held virtually, and due to statewide stay-at-home orders, City of Newcastle pivoted its plans for a face-to-face citizenship ceremony to allow our newest citizens to take the pledge online.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen presided over two ceremonies each via Zoom, meeting people from all cultural backgrounds and walks of life.

Among them was Newcastle resident Dana Fischetti who moved here eight years ago from the United States of America with her husband John as a career and lifestyle choice.

Professor Fischetti, an esteemed Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Newcastle, received his Australian citizenship online last year, and on Wednesday Mrs Fischetti joined him as a proud dual citizen.

The pair have been separated from their children, Justin and Katie, and their extended family and friends in North Carolina since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020. Their granddaughter Eva, now two years old, wasn’t yet walking or talking.

“It’s incredibly hard being separated from family during the pandemic; pre-COVID we’d see them three or four times a year, so this is the longest time we’ve spent apart and FaceTime isn’t the same for those important milestones,” Mrs Fischetti said.

“That said, we’re extremely grateful for the opportunity to become Australian citizens. We cherish our Australian friends and the opportunities this amazing country has provided for us. We love our life in Newcastle and have witnessed so much positive change in the city since we moved here in 2013. We’re also proud to be part of such a culturally diverse community.

“At some point in the future, we look forward to being able to co-live in the US and Australia, so that we can spend more time with our family but also enjoy this place we have come to call home.”

Lord Mayor Cr Nelmes congratulated the City’s newest citizens on what was one of the most memorable occasions for many.

“Whilst COVID-19 restrictions prevented us from celebrating in person, through the wonder of technology I am proud to have connected with so many smiling faces today and to have taken the time to welcome and celebrate each and every one of them; our community is all the richer for it.”