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Khodadad’s all smiles after Newcastle citizenship ceremony

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You couldn’t wipe the smile off Khodadad Karimi’s face today – after seven long years, he finally became an Australian citizen. 

Originally from Afghanistan, Mr Karimi came to Australia to find a safer place to live and start a family. 

He now lives in Wallsend with his wife and four sons. 

“I left Afghanistan in 1995 when the Taliban took it over,” he said. 

“It wasn’t safe and I travelled to many different countries to find a place to be safe and start a new life.”

After living in Indonesia and New Zealand, Mr Karimi decided Australia was the place to be.

He arrived here at the end of 2011 and was held in a detention centre until mid-2012 before moving to Mudgee. 

He moved to Newcastle four years ago and the rest is history – he was beaming today when speaking about his new home. 

“It is a beautiful country and it’s safe and full of lovely people,” he said. 

“I am so excited and very proud to be an Australian citizen and live in Australia.

“I know there are a lot of people in Afghanistan who would like to be here, it’s a beautiful country.”

Mr Karimi was just one of more than 100 people who took the citizenship pledge during a ceremony this afternoon. 

Hailing from all corners of the globe, including Germany, Brazil, South Africa and Afghanistan, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says the new Novocastrians are going to add to the city’s rich multicultural tapestry. 

“So [today] we’re welcoming 130 new citizens from 34 different countries,” she said.

“We’ve only been able to hold one face-to-face ceremony in the past two years, so it’s a really exciting day for us to be back in the Civic Theatre welcoming new citizens to Australia.”

Cr Nelmes added citizenship ceremonies were one of the best things about her role. 

“There’s many different facets to being the Lord Mayor of the city,” she explained.

“And, I have to say, one of the most enjoyable days and the days I feel the most privileged to be in this role is when I get to confer Australian citizenship. 

“It is a true honour to be part of families and people’s lives and their journey to living and residing and working and studying in Australia.

“Some of our new citizens could have lived here for 60 years and just sort of got around to it.

“Others have been refugees who have fled terrible circumstances – injustice, inequality, their human rights have been abused – so when they can come and live safely and peacefully in a country like Australia and a wonderful city like Newcastle and be fully-embraced in the community is a beautiful moment for them and it’s wonderful to be able to share that.”

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