I have recently had the great honour of welcoming our newest Australian citizens, albeit in a COVID-reduced capacity.
While the NSW Health restrictions prevented us from celebrating in person this year - through the wonder of technology - I was so happy to have connected with so many smiling faces via video conferencing platform Zoom.
With the blessing of the Department of Home Affairs, it was the first time we as a council decided to conduct online ceremonies.
We had the first on October 7, with 11 adults and one child, before conducting a second later that day with eight adults.
We have now welcomed 99 people from 30 different countries.
Although I could only witness it through a screen, the joy radiating from the faces of the men, women and children who have made the decision to call our great region home - was heartwarming.
The sense of pride I have received from conducting these ceremonies, particularly after such a difficult year, has been very satisfying.
Many have waited a long time for this moment.
For them, it is so much more than just a citizenship certificate - it is a gateway to a new life and social prosperity.
We are so fortunate as Australians to enjoy such a wonderful way of life, and live in a country that offers such diplomatic and democratic freedoms.
I am so glad that our new citizens will now be able to enjoy these same great opportunities.
I wish all our new citizens the very best, and look forward to congratulating them in a post-COVID setting out in the community, soon.
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