Becoming an Australian Citizen
I had the great pleasure of attending an Australian Citizenship ceremony in Canberra recently – and I have to tell you, the atmosphere was something else.
There were about 100 people from 26 different countries pledging their allegiance to Australia with smiles on their faces and pride in the eyes. Everyone was smartly dressed with children in gorgeous outfits and on their best behaviour, there was a real sense of awe palpable in the room. The crowd of guests were made up of friends and family of the recipients, all with welcoming happy smiles on their faces. Everyone was feeling happy!
The chorus of the song by The Seekers – I am, you are, we are Australian – came to mind as I sat in the crowd.
We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice
“I am, you are, we are Australian”
I felt honoured to witness this celebration.
From the Aboriginal performers, Duncan and his daughter, who not only entertained the crowd but also educated and linked directly to the ceremony; to the delightful look on everyone’s faces when their name was called out and they received their certificate to huge applause; to the rousing rendition of the National Anthem at the conclusion; and the presence of the Queen (even if she was on a pull up banner and looking a tad younger than in real life).
Interestingly, the Albert Hall was the same location as the first ever Australian Citizenship ceremony in Canberra in 1949 – prior to that date, everyone was considered a British citizen.
The status of Australian nationality or Australian citizenship was created by the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 (in 1973 renamed the Australian Citizenship Act 1948), which came into force on 26 January 1949. The process of acquiring citizenship by application is referred to as “naturalisation”.
The Pledge of Commitment to Australia
The words of the Pledge of Commitment to Australia are as follows – there are two choices, either using the words ‘under God’ or not. I don’t think I was ever aware of the wording before.
From this time forward, under God,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.
The process to become an Australian citizen is quite lengthy, frustrating and costly but all who took the pledge were thrilled to have been through the process – and why wouldn’t they be happy? It’s a great country!
Yes there are negatives but that’s the case in every country in the world – and this post isn’t about being negative. Just the opposite in fact!
What did I learn?
I learnt a few things. The fact that Australian citizenship was only recognised in 1949 and that in Canberra, 1 in 4 people have been born overseas. Looking around the room we agreed there would have been some very interesting stories to tell. Maybe some relief too, now everyone was through the process and finally considered citizens of Australia.
I also learnt that back in 1970, when my mother became an Australian citizen, it was a very different affair – she received her certificate in the mail with a simple letter of congratulations. Definitely no big welcoming ceremony for her. I feel sorry for her being cheated on such a happy experience.
I would recommend everyone to attend such a ceremony every now and again – if only to stop us from becoming jaded in this crazy world for a short time.
After the ceremony I found myself congratulating perfect strangers and wishing them well. I smiled a lot. Everyone did!
I left the ceremony feeling proud of Australia. Very proud.
Especially as it was my son-in-law who became an Australian citizen after moving here from England in 2012 and marrying our daughter in 2015.
Lamingtons and Vegemite sandwiches
The refreshments afterwards included lamingtons and Vegemite sandwiches – how appropriate is that?
So what are you proud of? I wrote a post recently about being THANKFUL and now I’m Proud as well. Not bad for a week’s work!
Let me know what you’re proud of.
Feel free to leave me a comment below. I always love hearing from you and try to answer all your comments 🙂
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