New Aussies a proud and happy bunch

Gabriel Majok Madit received his citizenship certificate along with eight members of his family who all escaped the horrors of Sudans civil war and found sanctuary in Lismore. Gabriel said that after spending 12 years of his life in a refugee camp, being in Australia was like being on a honeymoon. I feel incredibly welcomed and really proud to say I am Australian.

Jubilation is one word to describe the atmosphere at Lismore City Council on Tuesday, where 18 people became Australian citizens in a special ceremony conducted by mayor Merv King.

With the Howard Governments proposed compulsory citizenship test on the horizon, these new Australians were lucky to have missed out on some gruelling questions about Australian history and values, but no exam was needed to measure the happiness on their faces.

Rekha Saini, who arrived in Australia from India five years ago after falling in love with a North Coast man, said the best thing about Australia was the feeling of safety.

The laws are great and no-one can hurt us here, said Rekha, unlike in India where you can be bashed or even murdered and there is very little protection.

Rekhas 15-year-old daughter, Parina, was grinning from ear to ear at becoming an Australian.

I absolutely love Australia, said Parina, who is in year 10 at Trinity Catholic College. I used to watch movies and shows like Getaway and it looked so beautiful. The only think I miss about India is the rest of my family and were going back to visit them soon. I do feel different now that I have my Australian citizenship certificate. I feel very, very happy.

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