Posted on September 18 2019
National Citizenship Day is an opportunity for all Australians, whether citizens by birth or choice, to come together as a nation to honour what’s great about Australia and being Australian. This year the nation welcomed the largest number of new citizens approximately 8000 at 150 ceremonies across the country. The Australia Day Council of South Australia congratulates all our new citizens that were conferred at ceremonies held at Councils across our state on National Citizenship Day - Tuesday 16 September 2019. Our small team here at the Australia Day Council of South Australia was able to be present at a couple of these beautiful events.
Our newly appointed Australia Day Council of South Australia Ambassador Major General Vikram Madan OAM, VSM & Bar (Retd) was a guest speaker at The Rural City of Murray Bridge’s citizenship ceremony held at the Town Hall on National Citizenship Day. The Council were thrilled to confer 59 new citizens to their local community.
Major General Vikram Madan OAM, VSM & Bar (Retd) became an Australian citizen a few years ago his reflections of what this significant life step has meant to him resonated strongly to those present at the Murray Bridge ceremony that have walked and are walking a similar path. We thank Major General Madan for generously sharing these words -
“For me personally granting of Australian citizenship is one of the proudest moments of my life and I am sure you all feel the same today. I fully understand it is also a bit of an emotional roller coaster for everyone. Giving up the citizenship of the country of your birth or origin is not that simple and easy. You have strange mixed feelings and you are very much entitled to those feelings. Here I want to share my personal story.
I migrated to Australia, in fact straight to Adelaide, in early 2007 having married Veena who had lived here in Adelaide since 1992. She is here with me today to attend this beautiful citizenship ceremony. She is the reason and my inspiration for migration. I had served in the Indian Army’s elite Gurkha Regiment for 40 long years and took part in two wars and served the country of my birth with pride and distinction. I was also decorated twice by the President of India for services of distinguished order to the country. Major portion of my life was spent in that great country.
After the mandatory period of four years when I had to exercise my option for Australian citizenship I definitely went through my share of emotional upheaval. I now look back to these 13 years in Adelaide and 9 years as a citizen and say with pride what a wonderful decision that was. Every day in this amazing country has been full of personal satisfaction and joy.
Each one of us has an incredible story of our own or our family’s migration process. Even people who migrated over 200 years ago have a story. There have been many challenges and struggles but at the end of the day there is one nice, loud and clear refrain,” it is a land of opportunity and a fair go for all”. Your hard work, diligence and commitment for better life for yourself and your family will always bring happy results and the Government of the day will ensure your welfare in terms of health and social security. We have a vibrant democracy, freedom of expression and can practice our faith without fear and discrimination. What has impressed me the most is the willingness, honour and recognition of voluntary work. I have travelled around and can unequivocally say that Australia values the voluntary work more than any other country and we probably have more volunteers than anyone else per capita. I migrated here at a reasonably mature age but fortunately into a functional and happy home. Our children are well settled, my wife is in full time work and I can fully devote my time and energies to voluntary social and community work. It has been one big dream come true.
Ladies and gentlemen, by becoming an Australian citizen you are also choosing to be part of a multicultural society. A multicultural society is where all citizens are respected for who they are no matter where they were born, what language they speak, what religion they follow or what cultural traditions they value or practice. Multiculturalism has been recognised by many as one of Australia’s greatest social achievements since World War II. I am also happy that you have chosen South Australia as your new home. Not many would know that besides being amongst the ten most liveable cities in the world, we also lead the nation in acceptance of multiculturalism. 87 % of South Australians accept multiculturalism and majority out of them have a firm conviction that it has added economic and societal vibrancy to our State. At the same time may I ask you to try and not only preserve your cultural heritage, believes and traditions but pass them onto your next generation as also showcase them to our wider South Australian community.
My last message to you is that as you move on, there will be cultural wounding and awakening. There will be challenges and struggles of integration and settling down in a new country. But all I want to say to you is, yes it is an enormous change and a learning curve. There would be many personal reasons you made this decision to migrate. So believe in yourself and your abilities and take everything in your stride.
Finally, on a lighter note, travel around the world and know the value of your Australian passport. I wish you well and thank you for listening to this old soldier. Congratulations once again. Have a great day and celebrate.”
Major General Vikram Madan OAM, VSM & Bar (Retd),
Australia Day Ambassador
For more information about the Australia Day Ambassador program click here