New Aussies reveal their journeys to citizenship
YEARS of sheer determination to reunite his family have finally paid off for Francisco Agbada, who today witnessed his closest loved ones become Australian citizens in the Whitsundays.
After spending 17 years working for cruise ships in the Philippines, Mr Agbada was finally able to move to Australia in 2007, but he had to leave his family behind.
He worked as a chef after arriving on Hamilton Island, until he was finally able to bring his family over to join him in March 2014.
Today his partner Elsa along with children Lorenz, Levin, Franz and Gabrielle were all sworn in as Australian citizens during the Whitsunday Regional Council Australian Citizenship Day 2019 ceremony.
"Words cannot express the happiness I've felt since I brought my family here,” Mr Agbada said.
"There were years of sadness because I was so far from my family, but I was also so lucky because I got a job on Hamilton Island and they supported me and sponsored me.
"It's been years of sacrifice but today is a fantastic day to see my family become citizens. It's overwhelming.”
The region welcomed 35 new citizens at the ceremony and all have chosen the Whitsundays as their new home.
Mayor Andrew Willcox inducted the newest citizens from 12 countries including Jordan, New Zealand, France, Germany, Poland, Africa and India.
Celebrating her new citizenship on the same day as her birthday was six-year-old Ashley Tao who was inducted with her mum Vicky Liu, while proud dad Andy Tao and visiting grandma Emma Liu witnessed the milestone achievement.
Mr Tao, who now owns and operates the Cannonvale Brumby's Bakery with wife Vicky, said today was a proud day for his family who made the move from China to Brisbane in 2007.
"I studied full-time here and then my wife and I moved to Airlie Beach seven years ago when I became sponsored at Brumby's,” he said.
"Ashley was born in the Proserpine Hospital and we took over the Brumby's about nine months ago.
"It's hard work owning your own business, but we love it and we love living in Airlie Beach - it's a beautiful little town and everyone here is so friendly.”
Mr Willcox was all smiles when he welcomed the Whitsundays' newest group of proud Australians to the beach-side community.
"Our future depends on how we work together,” he said.
"I look forward to seeing you all build a life of happy memories in the Whitsundays and folks, you have truly chosen the best part of the world to love. Welcome aboard.”