When Department of Human Services graduate Oleksandr Dorohokuplia first arrived in Australia he lived in Alice Springs.
It was 2008 and while it didn’t look like the stereotypical images of Australia he’d seen in the past, he and his family were proud to call it home.
“South Africa is a beautiful country, and I’d lived there since 1995 but my parents were concerned for our safety,” Oleksandr said.
“Leaving was bittersweet but it meant my family and I were able to try and pursue a safer life.”
Oleksandr and his family made roots in Alice Springs where they established strong ties with the community.
They were one of the first to experience a new partnership between the Department of Human Services and the Department of Home Affairs, making it easier for people living in regional areas to take their Australian citizenship test.
This partnership allows people in regional Australia to take their test at their local service centre instead of travelling to capital cities or waiting for Immigration staff to visit their local area.
“My family and I were welcomed with open arms by the people of Alice Springs,” Oleksandr said.
“We even took our citizenship test at the Alice Springs service centre.
“I remember the process being very nerve-wracking, but the Centrelink staff were very professional and allowed for a smooth process, which put me at ease.”
The department offers citizenship testing at 33 service centres across Australia—from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Mackay in Queensland.
“Our citizenship was finally granted five years after we arrived in Alice Springs,” Oleksandr said.
“It’s difficult to express in words what a relief it was to be able to live here for rest of our lives.”
September 17 is Australian Citizenship Day, where we can reflect on stories like Oleksandr’s and celebrate Australia’s inclusivity.
Oleksandr now works in the department’s Language Services Unit, which handles translation services and interpreters for customers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The Language Services Unit is located in the Sydney suburb of Redfern, known for its diverse mix of ethnicities and cultures.
“I know firsthand how difficult it can be to move to a new country,” Oleksandr said.
“Working in this team goes a great way in making the work more fulfilling as I am able to relate to what the customers are going through.
“It’s fantastic and a real privilege to see the work the department does for some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
“I’m truly grateful to not only to be an Australian citizen, but to work in a role where I can give back to people just like myself.”·