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SEVEN South Gippslanders can now officially call Australia home after receiving their citizenship certificates at Leongatha’s Australia Day celebrations last Saturday.

The candidates all came to Australia from countries including England, Ireland, Russia and Sri Lanka.

During the ceremony held at McIndoe Park, South Gippsland Shire deputy mayor Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks picked a common factor in their personal stories; their choice to settle in the region, their love for the countryside, the coast, and the wonderful communities.

Someone who could relate to their appreciation for their new home was special guest and Australia Day Ambassador, Richard Rozen.

Born in Poland, Mr Rozen was only six when he hid with his parents in a cupboard for 13 months in complete darkness.

Mr Rozen said his father taught him his first year of schooling inside the cupboard, whispering letters and numbers into his ear and writing them on his hand with his finger.

“We had to be in silence because no one could know where we were,” he said.

“For me it was normal, I could stand, but my parents could only lie and sit. My father would tell me stories and teach me lessons,” he said.

With his father eventually captured by the Germans and never seen again, Mr Rozen was reunited with his mother after liberation, and they eventually made their way to Australia.

“It’s such a wonderful country. I’ve been really fortunate to be honoured in some ways, such as my Order of Australia, and I’m glad I’m able to give back to the community as much as I can, including being an ambassador today,” he said.

“Life is good. I think the crunch of it, is I’ve come from a rather underprivileged background.  I spent four and a half years in an orphanage after the war, so that is the part that is underprivileged,  and now life is great every day.”

Local achievers were also recognised at the ceremony, with the centenary of state secondary education reunion named Leongatha’s event of the year, with special mentions to the South Gippsland Golf Classic and the Leongatha Daffodil Festival, while Henriettas and South East Podiatry were named winners of the Australia Day windows competition.

Member for Gippsland South, Peter Ryan, also took the opportunity to thank emergency services for assisting with the Gippsland bushfires.

“Amongst the celebrations is an occasion to recognise the extraordinary contributions all of our volunteers make,” he said.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=6356

Posted by on Jan 30 2013. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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