Sydney’s Blacktown City Council has welcomed hundreds of Australia’s newest citizens, including an expectant mother from her hospital bed, at virtual ceremonies during the COVID-19 lockdown and set a record in the process.
Council swore in 451 new citizens across seven virtual ceremonies on one day recently – a record number of new citizens sworn in online in a single day anywhere in Australia.
Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM and Deputy Mayor, Julie Griffiths had the honour of officiating the proceedings alongside the Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland, who together welcomed new citizens from 39 different countries.
“Citizenship ceremonies are among the most memorable and special events I have the pleasure of being involved in with Blacktown City Council,” Mayor Bleasdale said.
“While our ceremonies look a little different due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are committed to helping our residents receive their citizenship in a new virtual format.
“It was a privilege to welcome each and every one of our new citizens from their homes across Blacktown City via a video wall.
“I congratulate them all on this momentous occasion and wish them all the very best in this new chapter in their lives.
Among the new citizens was expectant mother Cassandra Lynn Cabiling, who took the pledge from the maternity ward.
Ms Cabiling moved to Australia from the Philippines 10 years ago and had been determined to become a citizen.
“It was having my routine check-up and I asked if I could go home earlier for the zoom ceremony. They suggested it would be best if I stayed in hospital. Even though I was still in hospital I didn’t want to miss the meeting,” she said.
“It’s so exciting and I was so eager to finally become a citizen.”
Deputy Mayor, Julie Griffiths said the feeling of pride felt by the new citizens was uplifting during these difficult COVID times.
“We had many of them get dressed up with the kids at home. You can just see it on their faces, they’re loving the professional and personalised way we’re doing it with the flags and the lectern,” Deputy Mayor Griffiths said.
“The virtual layout we have provides the same feeling they would experience in person, and it’s really warm and welcoming for everyone.”