New citizens seek bright future in city

FOR Raj Chetty it was a longing to live somewhere secure.

For Verena Strathearn, it was the desire to be somewhere where she and her family didn’t have to worry about a burgeoning crime rate.

Their stories were just two of many told by those who received Australian citizenship at Warrnambool’s Australia Day ceremony on Saturday.

Mr Chetty, 33, a Fijian Indian, said he came to Australia because the future was not good for Fijian Indians in Fiji.

He said under the Fijian military government, Fijian Indians were being denied their rights and left the country because he wanted to live somewhere where he felt secure. 

He came to Australia after being offered a job as a mechanic at Warrnambool Toyota and has lived here for four years.  He said he liked Australia “very much”.

Mr Chetty’s partner, Ranjila, 30, also took out Australian citizenship on Saturday and the couple are expecting their first child.

For Mrs Strathearn and her family, taking out  citizenship was part of a series of “stepping stones” that began when her family decided to leave South Africa — its escalating crime rate not the least of their reasons.

The Strathearns  had relatives in Brisbane but their application to emigrate to Australia was initially rejected because it did not meet sufficient criteria.

So the family went to Canada for four years until Mrs Strathearn, a medical scientist, got a job sponsorship to work for Healthscope Pathology in Warrnambool.

The family has been settled in the city for four years and Mrs Strathearn, her husband Anthony and their children Robyn and Tristan all took out  Australian citizenship on Saturday.

Mr Strathearn said a desire to be more closely involved with the community was among the reasons that prompted the family to take the final step.

They were among 19 people from across the globe who took the oath of allegiance to Australia at Warrnambool’s Australia Day ceremony at the botanic gardens.

The crowd of 400 people was also entertained by Australia Day ambassador and television broadcaster George Donikian, who told the story of his parents’ emigration from Greece and his experience as “a good ethnic boy” growing up in Australia.

Donikian said he had to change his name to Donikan to get a job in broadcasting in 1974, only to change it back to Donikian when he joined Australia’s multicultural Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

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