By Alex Dalziel
On June 5, the City of Melbourne welcomed 275 new Australians in what was the largest citizenship ceremony in the municipality’s history.
The “super ceremony” at Melbourne Town Hall welcomed new citizens from from six continents all over the globe. Groups of around 20 citizens were sworn in by Lord Mayor Sally Capp on a red carpet at the same time, such was the scale of the event.
New citizens were then presented with a certificate by the Lord Mayor, as well as an Australian flag and an indigenous plant from council’s Aboriginal City portfolio chair Cr Nic Frances Gilley.
According to council, of the 275 new citizens, 104 live in the CBD, 49 in Southbank and 39 in Docklands.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the ceremony was a celebration of the city’s diverse multicultural community.
“We are proud that these new citizens from 54 nations have decided to call Melbourne home,” Cr Capp said. “Melbourne’s vibrant culture has been shaped over generations by migrants who left their native countries for new beginnings.
“They are making a commitment to our nation, bringing the best of themselves and their heritage to create a fresh future here in Melbourne.”
One CBD local who became a citizen on the day was Richard Bestel de Lezongard from South Africa.
Richard first immigrated to Australia about 10 years ago with his parents when he was 19 and has lived between South Africa and Australia ever since. He told CBD News that the June 5 ceremony was a fantastic occasion.
“My parents both had their ceremonies before me and I don’t think it was nearly as grand. There is something special about doing it with a bunch of other people alongside you,” Richard said.
“There’s a sense of really having all of the rights of someone who comes from this country. It is the final step in feeling at home in Australia.”
In 2019, the City of Melbourne has welcomed hundreds of new citizens, having already hosted six citizenship ceremonies this year to keep up with demand. Citizenship applications have continued to rise from 60 per month in 2016 to an average of 90 – 100 per month this year.
More than 7650 Melbourne residents have become Australian citizens since September 2006, with China being the biggest contributor with 1403 citizens followed by India with 1026.
“The City of Melbourne is one of the fastest growing cities in the developed world and we look forward to the contribution these new citizens will make to our great city,” the Lord Mayor said.
“As Lord Mayor it’s a privilege to preside over citizenship ceremonies and to be a part of such a special moment in the lives of our new residents.”
“I’m often asked what the greatest strength of our city is and it is that we speak 260 languages and practice 135 faiths, but we are one Melbourne.”