IN THE typical Australian way, the 500-strong crowd at Lismore’s official Australia Day ceremony scrambled for the words as they mumbled their way through the second verse of the national anthem.
Yet there was a round of thunderous applause when it came to welcoming the area’s newest 20 Australians from 11 countries, ranging from Sudan and Jordan to Switzerland and Germany.
Lismore MP Thomas George, himself the son of Lebanese parents, and mayor Jenny Dowell welcomed the new citizens, including the Thokluel family of 10 from Sudan, who lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for 12 years while waiting to be accepted by Australia.
“We got citizenship because it took us a long time to get here and we want to stay. It is a good place,” father Phillip Thokluel said. “Lismore is also a good place and the people are very friendly.”
One of the many people who strive to make Lismore such a liveable area is Deirdre Paillas, who was yesterday named Citizen of the Year for starting up three choirs.
Other award winners include Si Minniecon, who was named the inaugural Aboriginal Citizen of the Year, and Lucy Barker, named Young Citizen. Lismore Base Hospital Auxiliary was named Community Services Group of the Year, with Alf Smith given the Community Services award. Northern United rec- eived the Sports Team award, with Jim Armstrong named Sportsperson of the Year and Jaiden Walker Junior Sportsperson.