For Joanne Dam, becoming an Australian citizen over Zoom was a relief because she was able to have friends and family from The Netherlands join the call.
Only months earlier, when Joanne’s husband became an Australian citizen, not even all her children were able to attend – with only two guest spots available, just she and her daughter could go along.
“My husband did it in person with only two guests allowed, so our boys missed out,” Ms Dam told Region Media. “And because our children were children, they did not have any ceremony [when they became citizens], so that was a bit sad.
“I was able to invite family and friends in The Netherlands and also friends here as well as having my children and my husband behind me.
“I actually loved it, I thought it was better because of all the people that could attend.”
Ms Dam’s conferral was part of Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council’s first online citizenship ceremonies due to the stay at home orders imposed on the region.
Five ceremonies were held on 9 September, bestowing citizenship to 45 new Australians.
Ms Dam, a teacher, said she had always felt part of the community since the family moved here six years ago but as the last person in the family to become an official Australian, this extra step completed their Australian transition.
“It was a happy day because we live here, and we want to be a part of the community with everything,” she said.
“I am happy that I still had the opportunity to become a citizen instead of having to wait another six months.”
Another conferee, Ali Embran, also received his citizenship over Zoom.
Mr Embran, who is originally from Afghanistan but moved to Australia after living in Italy, said becoming a citizen was the final part of making Australia home.
“In Australia, I feel like I am home, and that is something I have been missing for many years,” he said.
“For me, this is a country of opportunities and fairness. I notice the respect different people from different countries have for each other here.”
Mayor Tim Overall said the council was proud to provide an opportunity for people to become Australians and continue such an important tradition.
“Citizenship ceremonies are a very special occasion in any person’s life, and it is an honour that we can welcome these new Australians to our community,” he said.