Almost three hundred local residents will celebrate an important milestone in their lives at Sunshine Coast Council’s citizenship ceremony which coincides with Cultural Diversity Day at Coolum State School on Wednesday, May 21 at 5pm.
World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is held annually on May 21 to engage with people about the importance of cultural diversity and harmony.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said he was honored to preside over the ceremony which will see 285 residents from 35 different countries, officially become the Coast’s newest Australian citizens.
“This special day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“We have residents from all over the world becoming citizens at Coolum in what is going to be our biggest ceremony so far this year.
“They all have stories that inspire and reaffirm my belief that we live in one of the best places in the world.”
The recipients all have a different story to tell but all have the same strong desire to become an Australian citizen.
For Thelmarie Neser originally from South Africa, her personal story started in January 2009 when facebook connected her with her first school love and eventually brought her to Australia.
When at school at the tender age of 12 Thelmarie met a 14 year old boy called Francois who stole her young heart and saw them as sweethearts until Francios started his first year at university.
As life often takes us on different paths Thelmarie and Francois eventually went on to marry different partners and have their own respective families.
Sadly for Thelmarie her marriage ended in divorce in 1997 and in 2009 her ex- husband announced an opportunity to immigrate to Australia with their children, leaving her in South Africa.
Thelmarie said they both made the brave decision that the future and safety of their children would be so much better in Australia and therefore her husband immigrated with the children.
“This decision left me behind, but knowing this was the best for our children gave me strength and I knew I would have the opportunity to visit beautiful Australia at least twice a year to see them,” Thelmarie said.
“On 14 January 2009 I was on facebook and looking up old friends when I noticed my first boyfriend Francois was living in Australia. We connected as friends and so the romance after 27 years started and continues today as husband and wife.
“On 21 May when I become a citizen of this beautiful country of Australia, I will be proud of being a part of a country where you can still leave money in an honesty box and take your purchase.
“Where you don’t stress when you accidently leave your front door unlocked, where you could go for a jog or a walk without looking over your shoulder all the time and where your children have opportunities.
“Where I can still afford to attempt further studies and where I can stand up and sing a National Anthem and be proud.”
Australian Citizenship Ceremonies on the Sunshine Coast are held bi-monthly in locations across the region. Visit council’s website for further information on Australian Citizenship Ceremonies.
Sunshine Coast Regional Council
14 May 2014