Sunday was a special day in Gunnedah Shire as we welcomed eight new Australian new citizens.

September 17 is Australian Citizenship Day, a day to be proud and thankful to call Australia home.

Joining us as new citizens were Ying-Hsuan Hsieh, Jean-Marc Kunda Mezieres, Tomasi Matakitoga, Maida Macarubbo Smyth, Divine Faith Alog, Bruce Jiminez Vinarta, Mary Jane Cruz Vinarta and Nicolas Andrei Silos Vinarta.

A huge welcome to these eight people who have chosen to call Gunnedah and Australia home.

This year, more than 19,000 people from across 140 countries were welcomed as new citizens on Australian Citizenship Day. The Gunnedah shire citizenship ceremony held at The Civic and ably catered by Red Cross was one of more than 420 ceremonies across the country.

Sadly, last week we lost one of our much loved citizens, Ron “Rocky” McLean. Ron was an award-winning journalist who poured his talent and dedication into the Namoi Valley Independent newspaper and, later, the Gunnedah Times.

He also wrote a number of books commemorating the people of Gunnedah shire.

My condolences to Ron’s family and many friends.

Ron McLean’s passing is a reminder of how important it is to celebrate the people who contribute so much to our community.

One way to do this is through the Gunnedah Australia Day Awards that recognise our outstanding citizens every year.

Nominations are now open in 13 categories, including Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, the Community Achievement Award, and the Cultural Achievement Award. Special guests at the January 25 dinner next year include Australian dancer, performer, TV personality and 2024 Australia Day Ambassador Todd McKenney as well as fun-loving Australian poet Murray Hartin.

If you know someone who really deserves a pat on the back for their quiet achievements, you can find out more at:

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