City of Newcastle embraced the return to face-to-face Australian Citizenship Ceremonies on Wednesday, welcoming 150 new citizens from 39 countries in a COVIDsafe ceremony at the Civic Theatre.
Originating from all corners of the globe, from the United Kingdom and the USA to India and Afghanistan, the City’s newest citizens were the first to make the pledge to Australia in person in Newcastle since the Department of Home Affairs moved to online ceremonies in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among them was Sahlee Cook, who swapped life in the Philippines for Newcastle's laidback lifestyle.
After meeting in the Philippines, Sahlee Cook married her now husband Adam, with the couple choosing to settle in his hometown of Newcastle to create a permanent home together.
“Aside from the beautiful beaches, lots of cafes to choose from and different variety of restaurants, what I like most is the people. The people here in Newcastle are nice, helpful, and pretty laid back,” Mrs Cook said.
“I am grateful and beyond happy to finally be an Australian citizen. Australia is such a beautiful and amazing country, so I am honoured to be part of this great nation and to live in Newcastle.”
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who presided over the citizenship ceremony alongside Master of Ceremonies, Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen, said she had been looking forward to warmly welcoming Australia’s newest citizens in-person once again.
“City of Newcastle has worked closely with the Department of Home Affairs to safely resume face-to-face ceremonies to allow conferees to come together and celebrate one of the most special days in their lives,” Cr Nelmes said.
"As Novocastrians, we are proud to be part of such a culturally diverse, inclusive community and we welcome people of all backgrounds.”
City of Newcastle’s next citizenship ceremony is planned for Wednesday 1 September 2021.