Liverpool welcomes new citizens in return of live ceremonies

An Iraqi refugee mother and daughter, and a Lebanese nurse who arrived as a skilled migrant are among more than 900 new Australian citizens made welcome in Liverpool this year.

After disruption caused by COVID-19, Liverpool City Council welcomed another 48 new citizens on Saturday 22 August to clear the waiting list.

The group had their citizenships conferred at the Whitlam Leisure Centre with strict hygiene and social-distancing measures in place.

Liverpool City Council halted in-person citizenship ceremonies in March due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Liverpool City Council conducted16 ceremonies conferring citizenship on 1585 people. This year, 21 ceremonies were planned, however only two were conducted before the COVID crisis intervened.

“I am so pleased to be able to welcome so many people to our Liverpool family as fully-fledged Australian citizens,” Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said.

“We were expecting to enjoy many of these ceremonies this year, but we have not been able to.

“But over the past two months we have finally been able to clear our waiting list by holding pared down events with limited numbers and full COVID-safe hygiene and social distancing measures in place.”

The last pre-COVID in-person citizenship ceremony held by Council was on 28 January. Eight ceremonies have been held since the in-person events recommenced on 28 July, with 449 people becoming citizens.

For Iraqi refugee Zaman Roomi and her nine-year-old daughter Randa Saleem, the day was a joyful one.

The pair arrived in Australia almost eight years ago, when Randa was just a babe in arms, after six months in a refugee camp in Jordan. Her younger daughter Sandra Saleem, 5, was born here.

Ms Roomi’s brothers and father have since also made the journey to safety in Australia.

“I am so happy, because I love this country and in my country we didn’t have a chance to live. My family is here, my daughters are here and we have a life. We have everything, thank God for this country,” Ms Roomi said.

Meanwhile, nurse educator Daniel Tissot was also celebrating the occasion.

Mr Tissot – an acute care nurse turned nurse educator – arrived in Australia in 2015 as part of the skilled migration program.

“Australia is always showing the world they are accommodating for people who come with skills and vision and who want to achieve something. And it is a beautiful country with amazing people.

“Pledging my loyalty today to the country, to the people, to beautiful Australia is beyond words. I almost had tears in my eyes when the Mayor actually asked us to say the pledge,” Mr Tissot said.

The Department of Home Affairs has recommenced citizenship interviews and further ceremonies will be held once the department resumes approving applications.

However, it is unknown when that might be. It is expected that future numbers of new citizens will fall due to border closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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