ACT News

Australia Day 2016: 27 Canberrans become Australian citizens

While many of us arrived in the world screaming and squalling "conscripted as Australian citizens", citizenship ceremonies were about honouring the "volunteers", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

And although an Australian by birth, one-year-old Dang Nguyen demonstrated the crying while he waited for his family to make their citizenship pledges at Canberra's ceremony where 27 people from 13 countries took the plunge.

Thi Mai and Xuan Vu Nguyen with their children Dang,15 months, and Xuan Bach, 5.
Thi Mai and Xuan Vu Nguyen with their children Dang,15 months, and Xuan Bach, 5. Photo: Jamila Toderas

His older brother Xuan Bach, 5, was a lot happier to be there just a few days before he was set to start kinder at Palmerston District Primary School.

"He's been waiting for this day for a long time," dad Xuan Vu Nguyen said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presents the Nguyen family with their citizenship certificates
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presents the Nguyen family with their citizenship certificates  Photo: Jamila Toderas

"When his brother got his Australian passport, he wanted one too."

Xuan Bach has been reading since he was three and proudly read his pledge with his family.

Mr Nguyen first came to Australia from Vietnam in 1998 to study a bachelor of arts-telecommunications degree at the University of NSW in Sydney, thanks to an Australian Development Scholarship.

He went back to Vietnam in 2004 to help develop his home country where he met and married his wife Thi Mai and they had first son, Xuan Bach.

Matthew Jojo and Shyni Thomas, with their children Leya 13, and Antus Jojo, 10, at the Australia Day Citizenship ...
Matthew Jojo and Shyni Thomas, with their children Leya 13, and Antus Jojo, 10, at the Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony at Canberra. Photo: Jamila Toderas

But returning to Australia in in 2011 was an easy decision.

"I loved Australia, I was so grateful for the scholarship from the Australian government, it's my second home now," he said.

Chandalala Mambwe, Chilandu Mukuka, Chilandu Chilaika, and Lydian Band-Mukaka at the Citizenship Ceremony.
Chandalala Mambwe, Chilandu Mukuka, Chilandu Chilaika, and Lydian Band-Mukaka at the Citizenship Ceremony. Photo: Jamila Toderas

"My wife wanted to come here too, she knew about Australia from movies and TV programs."

The couple originally intended to stay in Sydney but moved to Canberra when both found jobs as software engineers with the Department of Human Services.

Mr Nguyen said he loves Canberra for its educational opportunities, health services and landscape.

Shyni Thomas came to Canberra with her husband Jojo Mathew and children Leya, 13 and Antus, 10, four years ago when she was offered a job as a nurse at Calvary Hospital and her husband become a theatre assistant at the National Capital Private Hospital.

The family always wanted to move from India to Australia, but had to do it the long way round.

"First we had to go to the UK for four years, but we felt it was very cold in the UK," Ms Thomas said.

"We were excited to come here because it's a beautiful country, the people are lovely and the diversity made us want to become Australian citizens."

The family have relatives in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth but don't see themselves leaving the ACT any time soon.

"Canberra is very quiet and peaceful and it's got the four seasons … it's wonderful," Mrs Thomas said.

Chilandu Mukuka and her daughters Chilandu Chilaika and Lydian Banda-Mukuka made their pledges after arriving in Australia six years ago from Zambia.

Dr Mukuka said the Australia Day ceremony was a privilege to be a part of.

And with all the formalities over for the day Lydian had the best response when asked on stage how the family would celebrate the day – "like Australians".