THE significance of January 26 has caused division in recent weeks, but a call for unity came from Tamworth’s top citizens.
The morning was marked with a two-pronged celebration welcoming the city’s newest citizens, as well as acknowledging the top achievers for the year.
Ten new citizens were welcomed from afar as Botswana, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
News on Wheels stalwart Suzanne Turner was named Tamworth’s citizen of the year with Georgia Taggart recognised as the city eminent youngster, while Oliver Keft-Gill was the winner of the Mitchell Brady Encouragement Award.
Len Waters welcomed the community and “friends from across the seas” to “the strong lands of the Kamilaroi” and said it had been “our culture to bring in strangers and to give them shelter and to give them home, but also give them love and respect”.
Tamworth dentist Naledi Mosarwa, originally from Botswana, took the oath of citizenship and said it meant a lot to become an Australian on January 26.
“I came here in 2009 and migrated from Dublin, Ireland,” Dr Mosarwa said.
“I just loved it and decided to stay here.
“It means a lot, it’s just a free country with beautiful people.”
The dentist said Australia shared similarities with her native Botswana, including temperature and temperament.
“We’ve got quite a lot in common,” she said.
“There’s no wars and people are lovely there.”
The battle for young citizen of the year was fought between budding filmmaker Geordie Brown and 2017 NAIDOC Week Aboriginal Achievement Award winner Georgia Taggart.
The pair registered a list of accomplishments before adulthood which would satisfy most across a lifetime.
Ms Taggart took the title and called for more unity.
“Through school and in the community and my generation today, there’s not that kind of unity,” she said.
“You have to be with the trend otherwise you’re kind of a nobody and I don’t like to see that.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re from a different country, culture, religious beliefs, we’re one.
While it was a close fight for the young citizen title, Ms Taggart has a taste for a tussle and is gunning for a career with the defence force.
“We live in a beautiful nation with so many opportunities,” she said.
“I’ve been brought up in a very good home and I’ve had a good education and just being able to have that opportunity, that’s why I want to join the defence force.
“It’s very patriotic, but you know, it’s home, and it will always be home and to have that kind of freedom and opportunity, I want to fight for that.”
The town’s top title went to 2017 volunteer of the year Suzanne Turner, who was recognised for her work with News on Wheels and a raft of other volunteering efforts
Mrs Turner said her parents set a standard of giving back which she still tried to maintain.
“I think, in this life, there are givers and takers,” she said.
“My mother was very keen on returning things to her community as well.
“I think it’s her example and I was a nurse for 45 years and to be in that sort of profession you’ve got to be a giver, not a taker.”
She said January 26 was day to celebrate the country’s uniqueness and people should look for the blessings.
“We need to be together,” she said.
“We’ve just got to be thankful that we’re such a peaceful country and that we’ve never had a civil war.
“That’s the problem with society, they don’t open the blind in the morning and look for their blessings, they’re everywhere.”
She said News on Wheels was important for combating “separation” for the elderly in the community.
“When you get older you have lots of separations,” she said.
“From your spouse, from your children, from your pets, from your home and you don’t need to be separated from your community as well.
“So News on Wheels tries to keep them in touch with their community, as much as anything.”