New citizens welcomed

Victoria Cook joined by husband Marcus and daughter Evie at the citizenship ceremony.

Yarra Ranges Council welcomed many new Australian citizens at this year’s Australia Day citizenship ceremony.

Seville resident Victoria Cook became a citizen after having lived in the country since 2008. Her husband and daughter watched on as she was welcomed as an Australian citizen.

“It was fantastic,” she said. “They (council) did it really well considering the poor weather and Covid-19 regulations. It was very lovely and as special as it could be.”

Ms Cook shared that she was invited to take part in a virtual ceremony at the height of the pandemic last year, but decided to wait until the ceremony could be done in person. A wait that was worth it in the end when experiencing live music and waving the Australian flag alongside her daughter at Morrison Reserve in Mount Evelyn.

“It’s such a special occasion that I thought if I could wait and do it in person, I wanted to do that, and the fact that it was on Australia Day was lovely and made it that much nicer.”

She shared what she loves most about the area.

“I love the community spirit and the outdoors. Everyone is really welcoming and it’s just lovely. It reminds me of the English countryside area being surrounded by wineries and small local businesses.”

Another new citizen, Christopher Nugent, spent 80 years not knowing he wasn’t officially an Australian, after coming out when he was just nine-years-old.

“I didn’t know I wasn’t an Aussie, I came out in 1949 and assumed I was Australian. It was only a while back I discovered I wasn’t, and decided it was time to become one,” the Emerald resident said.

Born in the UK, Mr Nugent began his life in Australia in Cobar in New South Wales before making his way to Victoria when he joined the priesthood. After deciding the priesthood wasn’t for him, he became a teacher and later became a teacher’s advisor. He spent many years in Kallista.

“I was a very well-known teacher, known for my work all around Australia for my work in literacy education. Books that I published in 1969 are still selling, I wrote my first copywriter work back in 1965 and I’ve been working on English ever since,” he said.

He has worked out a way of reducing English phonic rules from 400 sounding-out rules to 60 rules without changing any spelling and has written “about half of the bible” using the new form and has learnt four languages.

“I’m known as the singer in Emerald. I go out in the footpath and since to tourists and locals, and I don’t accept any money because I’m not busking, it’s my way of blessing people,” he said.

Mr Nugent said “Australia is all he knows” and that he feels “delighted to be a dinky-di Aussie at last”.

“I got the certificate framed the same day as the ceremony and the frame now sits beside my old passport,” he said.