FLAG DAY: Sheila Galea who became an Australian citizen, Nicolas Galea, Paolo Galea, Greg Galea (Sheila’s husband) and Franco Galea, at the citizenship ceremony.
FLAG DAY: Sheila Galea who became an Australian citizen, Nicolas Galea, Paolo Galea, Greg Galea (Sheila’s husband) and Franco Galea, at the citizenship ceremony. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

New Aussies bring us diversity

A FORMAL ceremony followed by a morning tea with lamingtons is how 18 Lismore residents became Australian citizens yesterday.

They came from 12 nationalities and each had a different story to tell; from a young Congolese boy born in a Kenyan refugee camp to New Zealanders whose adjustment to Aussie culture would have been somewhat less challenging.

Mayor Jenny Dowell gave a brief history of Lismore while the new citizens arrived for the ceremony which included a formal pledge of commitment, the singing of the national anthem and the presentation of certificates.

"We don't often think of Lismore of somewhere that is culturally diverse, but there is a huge range of different nations represented here today. They've all got their own stories and have embraced the rights and responsibilities that go with citizenship and I admire them all for doing so," she said.

Cr Dowell said becoming a citizen did not mean that people had to leave their own customs and cultures behind, but that they made Australia a richer place by sharing that culture and history with us.

Sheila Galea has the most Australian-sounding name, but it was actually her birth name from the Philippines.

She moved to Australia in 2009 with her three boys after meeting and marrying her second husband, Greg. They now run farms supplying half a million chooks to Sunnybrand.

The boys were automatically citizens once Greg adopted them and they hassled her when she travelled on a Philippines passport.

"I think if you live here you should become a citizen," she said.

"I think you should be part of the community."

Where they came from

The 18 new citizens confirmed in Lismore came from:

New Zealand, Cambodia, France, Brazil, Britain, Philippines, Iran, Thailand, India, Switzerland, PNG and Sudan.



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