New citizen Fai McDonald.
New citizen Fai McDonald. CHRIS ISON CI

Citizens accept Australian welcome

HER golden outfit was pure Thai, but appropriately she topped it off with a blue Aussie hat.

It was the ideal attire in fact for the searing heat of Mount Morgan on the day Daosawan McDonald, known to her friends as Fai, became an Australian citizen.

“I’m very proud today,” said the Yeppoon Coffee Club chef after taking the oath of allegiance along with 72 others in a moving ceremony in a packed School of Arts.

“I couldn’t sleep last night and I was shaking when I collected my certificate. It’s a great moment, becoming an Australian.”

Fai has lived in Australia for nine years, five of them in Yeppoon.

“When I first came here I did not intend to make it my home, but it’s a great country. I like the opportunities and I love the friendliness of the people. I have a great family and I’m married to an Australian so that makes it even more special.”

The new group of Australians was welcomed by the region’s leading politicians. Federal MP Kirsten Livermore read a message of welcome and there were speeches by state members Robert Schwarten and Paul Hoolihan.

Mr Schwarten said two words summed up for him what it meant to be an Australian: freedom and tolerance.

Mayor Brad Carter performed the citizenship ceremony, presenting certificates of citizenship, sometimes to polite applause, sometimes to wild cheering.

Among the family groups taking the oath was Bolarin Oyegoke, originally from Nigeria, who cut a striking figure in his African robe.

The Queensland University of Technology research scientist moved to Rockhampton from Brisbane to work with Ergon Energy and loves the lifestyle.

“Today was really amazing. This is my dream to be an Australian and I will stay here now for the rest of my life.”

After the ceremony, which included rousing renditions of I am Australian and We Still Call Australian Home by Sharee Canning accompanied by the Capricornia Silver Band, new citizens mingled with old in the queue for snags and fried onions at the barbecue.

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