Australia welcomes new citizens at football match

Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium was the unique location where 101 new Australians were awarded their citizenship certificates in front of thousands of cheering football fans just before kick-off between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC on Saturday night.

The special event, co-hosted by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, formed part of Melbourne Victory’s annual U-NITE initiative to celebrate cultural diversity and provide pathways for young people from different ethnic backgrounds to take part in organised football training and competition.

The U-NITE initiative has been running for over five years and during that time has assisted the development of hundreds of young football players from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, southern Europe and Indigenous communities.

Among those who became Australian citizens was Martyn Maloney from the UK. Mr Maloney took part in the ceremony along with his two young sons and wife and said his family was thrilled to receive their citizenship and join a guard of honour for the team entry at the special event.

“I brought the family to Australia four years ago to work in the hospitality industry, then we fell in love with the livability of Melbourne, with such easy access to work, beaches and cafes,” he said..

Saturday’s conferees join the more than 4.5 million others who have chosen to become Australian citizens since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949.

This year is the 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship, which was established by the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 that came into force on 26th January 1949.

In order to be eligible to apply for citizenship an applicant must have had four years lawful residence in Australia. This period must include 12 months as a permanent resident immediately before making an application for Australian citizenship. They must have had no more than 12 months absence from Australia in total in the four years prior to application, including not more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately prior to application.

Article published 15th December 2014