ACT News


Tony Abbott congratulates new citizens on banks of Lake Burley Griffin

A British television star, a young family from Zimbabwe, and a Dutch scientist with dreams of becoming Australian of the Year were among 25 people who became Australian citizens on Monday.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott led the Australia Day citizenship ceremony on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin and congratulated the new Australians before posing for pictures, handshakes, and a morning tea on the lawns.

"We rejoice in a nation which has brought together people from the four corners of the earth, joining the first Australians to become one people," he said.

Almost 1600 people from more than 150 different countries became citizens on Australia Day with those in Canberra coming from Italy, Bolivia, Latvia, Nepal, Netherlands, China, Peru, and Britain,  among other nations.

Chido Taruvinga, who arrived in Australia in June 2009 from Zimbabwe, said she was nervous during the ceremony but was delighted to share the occasion with her children, Tanya Shayanano and Shaun Deeranyika.

"The excitement of meeting the Prime Minister in front of all these people was almost too much for me," she said.


"I love the country here – it's so big and there are so many things to do. I'm an outgoing person and I love the people here, so I wanted to become a citizen."

Another young family taking part in the ceremony arrived from India in 2000, and have since established a life in Canberra with their young daughter.

Esther Devaprasanna, a registered nurse at Calvary Hospital, and her husband Devaputra, a driving instructor, thanked Canberrans for their support in settling in Australia.

Their eight-year-old daughter Ruth had watched the Australia Day citizenship ceremony on television for the last five years, and routinely asked her parents whether she could take part and stand next to the Prime Minister.  

"It was my wife's dream to come to Australia when she was young and somehow she made it here, so her dream has come true along with my daughters at the same time," she said. 

"This was a very special day for us as it is also Republic Day in India, so to [come] from India and become an Australian citizen on this day really meant a lot to us.

"It's a wonderful honour and a great pleasure to be here on this auspicious day and I'd like to thank everyone for this day."

Mr Devaprasanna said he failed his first driving lesson in Australia despite having 20 years experience driving in India and the Middle East, and he was determined to help other immigrants learn to drive safely.

Minister of Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the ceremony was an opportunity for new and existing citizens to reflect on the benefits and obligations of citizenship.

"I congratulate those taking the final step in their journey to become Australian citizens, marking their commitment and loyalty to this country," he said. 

The ceremony was attended by chairman of the National Australia Day Council Ben Roberts Smith VC MG, Vice Chief of Defence Ray Gibbs, and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.