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I’m part of the Newcastle community, says proud new citizen

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Daniel Elia admits he “feels like he’s becoming part of the community”.

The City of Newcastle (CN) project manager was among 200 new Australian citizens welcomed at council’s first official ceremony for 2023 at the Civic Theatre on Wednesday.

The function, hosted by Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, featured traditional performances and a Welcome to Country by the Deadly Callaghan Yidaki Group.

It also celebrated Newcastle’s rich multicultural community, with 53 birth countries represented, from Brazil to Norway to Vietnam.

The 2022 Newcastle Citizenship Ceremony at Civic Hall. Photo: Peter Lorimer

Mr Elia, his wife Mabel and their 11-year-old daughter Danibel made the pledge of commitment this week, after son John, 18, was granted an expedited online ceremony as a student at the height of COVID-19 restrictions in October 2021.

The Ecuadorian-born Elermore Vale resident and his Filipino-born spouse met working at an engineering firm in Dubai, where they married in 2002.

Sixteen years later, they began their journey to Australia, initially settling in Sydney before relocating to Newcastle.

Some of the projects Mr Elia has worked on include erosion protection works in various locations at Stockton Beach and renovations at Blackbutt Reserve, while – in 2023 – he is involved in upgrades to City Hall and Civic Theatre, the very building he received his citizenship in.

He said he was proud to call Newcastle “home”.

“I’m thrilled to become an Australian citizen,” Mr Elia explained.

“But, I like Newcastle because it’s so accessible.

“Wherever you want to go, you can get there in 15 minutes.

“There’s no traffic and it’s peaceful.

“I am fully integrated with the residents here, living in peace and harmony with everyone.

“It’s a nice, safe place that embraces people from all over the world with fairness and equality.

“Even in the office, I can speak to people in French, Spanish; it’s so diverse.” 

In a historic moment, the citizenship ceremony took place on 25 January following changes by the federal government to allow councils to stage the mandated annual service “on or around” 26 January.

Cr Nelmes backed CN’s stance to change the traditional date.

“The community had called for the ceremony to be moved to a more culturally inclusive time,” she said.

“This is one of the most special days in many new citizens’ lives, remembered for years to come.

“City of Newcastle prides itself on social and cultural inclusivity and is pleased to embrace and facilitate this change for the community.”

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