IRENE Katumba sat proudly with her daughter at her first Australia Day in Goulburn’s Victoria Park on Saturday.
Awaiting the oath of citizenship, the Zimbabwean-born mother of four was calmly taking in the sights and sounds, shooing away flies and coping with the heat.
“It’s a very special day; this means quite a lot to me,” Mrs Katumba said.
“It gives me a feeling of belonging and now I can boast that I’m an Australian.” She was one of seven people to receive citizenship on Saturday, including two of her daughters Shamiso and Sharon who arrived after the ceremony.
Arriving from Zimbabwe four years ago, Mrs Katumba worked as a registered nurse in Alice Springs before moving to Goulburn last November with husband Sebastian to take up the same role at Warrigal Aged Care facility.
It was not the country’s political regime that made her migrate.
Rather, it was the chance to expand her work horizons and harness educational opportunities for her children.
The new citizens, who also hailed from Thailand, China and the UK, were just a piece of the diverse patchwork on offer at Australia Day celebrations in Victoria Park.
Over there by the tree was Goulburn’s self-dubbed Queen of the South, telling all who’d listen of the horse’s unacknowledged role in the city’s history. Later on, she was to recite poetry with another local character, Mike Shepherd from the Yurt Farm.
There were firies fresh from the recent outbreaks walking around with Australian flags in their hats, colourful Lieder Youth Theatre actors twirling ribbons and treading carefully on stilts, and another Goulburn favourite, Rosie Johnson, dressed to the nines in patriotic garb and making the odd quip during speeches.
Children with colourful wigs waving flags, Girl Guides, Scouts, Trinity Catholic College cadets, an army of volunteers and energetic stallholders added to the mix.
All the while outstanding musical entertainment by Corby Lee Hunt and Steve Ruddell sounded across the park.
• Citizen of the Year
IAN McMurdo couldn’t have wished for a better day to be named Goulburn’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year.
The humble president and founder of local cancer charity Can Assist was simply pleased the award would highlight the organisation’s work.
“This is a real surprise,” he told the crowd.
Four years ago Mr McMurdo had his own brush with oesophageal cancer. As an outpatient at a Sydney hospital he witnessed first hand the advantages of Can Assist accommodation for those receiving treatment.
Back in Goulburn, two and a half years ago he established a local Can Assist branch, to help families affected by cancer cope with household bills.
Since then 15 volunteers have joined and the branch has raised $55,000 through stalls, fashion parades and other fundraising initiatives.
They have helped 48 families.
“This feels fantastic,” Mr McMurdo said.
“But we get enough reward from the people we help.” Jakub Nabaglo received Goulburn’s Young Citizen of the Year (see story p2) while Ros Loftus and Dawn Giles were elated to accept the Community Event of the Year award for the Riversdale Garden Fair.
• Spirit of giving
ALL could relate to what Australia Day ambassador, Sky News reader and author Jacinta Tynan described as the “helper high.” That’s the feeling volunteers glean from giving.
“I think it’s imperative we all find a way to better our community,” she said.
“We can all lead a more fulfilled life because it’s not about what we can get, but what we can give.” Ms Tynan spoke passionately about Sister2Sister, a mentoring program for disadvantaged teenage girls, of which she is patron.
Some 250 girls beset by poverty, mental health problems and more, have undergone the program and all had turned their lives around, she told the crowd.
They included an Iranian refugee who didn’t speak the language when she arrived in Australia but had gone on to study medical science. She now works in the neuroscience faculty at the University of NSW. Then there was the 12-year-old under DOCS care who’s just been accepted into NIDA to study acting.
“The message today is that we can all make a difference in the lives of others and I see that every day in such incredible volunteer work,” Ms Tynan said.
“This beautiful city is an example of that spirit. We also grow when we help others be the best they can.” Grahame Northey was master of ceremonies for the day which included official guests Mayor Geoff Kettle, David Barnett representing Goulburn MP and wife Pru Goward, Hume Liberal candidate Angus Taylor standing in for Hume MP Alby Schultz, Canon Mark Cooper, Woolworths Goulburn general manager Danny Jackson, Gavin Jones from VIBE Australia, Cr Carol James and other members of the Australia Day committee.
Ellie Beckman left everyone on a high with a rousing rendition of Advance Australia Fair.