Being an Australian citizen is something that people of all different ages, genders, races and religious beliefs share in common.
To many, citizenship is much more than their name on a piece of paper. It represents belonging and identity in a nation they’re proud to call home.
After landing here from Ethiopia in August 1986, Gemechu, one of our Multicultural Service Officers, was instantly welcomed with a sense of security.
“It was 1AM in the morning…I was at the airport and really scared because in Ethiopia you could not go with a taxi driver during the night. They could take everything you have and run away” says Gemechu.
“This taxi driver started driving me at the back of the city, it was just forest and I thought oh my god, where is he going to take me? But later I learned that was the shortest road, and when we got there, he got out of the taxi, took out a torch and helped me with my bags.
“That was my first impression here, and it taught me how good Australia is. Meeting that taxi driver made me very, very happy, it gave me confidence living here in Australia.”
Cuc is another one of our Multicultural Service Officers who values her Australian citizenship as a symbol of freedom and acceptance.
“Even at a young age I was very concerned about my future and my safety in Vietnam because at that time during the War there was a lot of fighting. I wanted to speak out but I didn’t feel I was able to do that” Cuc says.
After fleeing Vietnam on a river boat, Cuc and her husband decided that Australia would be the best place to build their future.
“We didn’t have any money, we were in a refugee camp. So when we finally came to Australia in 1978, I sold my wedding ring to buy a red suitcase. Red so it wouldn’t get lost, and also to signify that we were lucky we made it.
“I love my job because I can give back to the country which was very kind to accept me, and I encourage young people including my children to do the same. I’m very proud to be an Australian with a Vietnamese background.”