City of Swan welcomes new Aussies and celebrates local champions

Published on: Friday, January 26, 2024

It was a morning of inspiration and culture as the City of Swan celebrated local champions and welcomed 73 new citizens from 28 countries on Australia Day.

Weeip Park in Midland was buzzing as Community Citizen of the Year nominees, soon-to-be citizens and their supporters gathered for the City’s annual Australia Day citizenship ceremony.

The ceremony started with a special performance from the Midn Marr Dreaming dancers, who had guests out of their seats and dancing to the the sounds of the didgeridoo.

Mayor Tanya Richardson spoke about the late Whadjuk Noongar leader Weeip, whose name lives on at Weeip Park.

She acknowledged the sensitivities around the date of Australia Day and paid tribute to the “resilience and enduring culture” of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

“It is a culture that should be celebrated and preserved every day of the year,” Mayor Richardson said.

“I am proud that the City of Swan and our community continue to take significant steps towards a reconciled Australia.

“This is an opportunity for us to respect the deep connection to country that First Nations people feel and to reflect on how this land unites us all.”

The City hosts monthly citizenship ceremonies at the Midland Town Hall, but the crowd on Australia Day is much bigger.

Mayor Richardson said it was a privilege to welcome so many new Australian citizens.

“Our newest citizens today, and many before you, are all important parts of the Australian story,” she said.

“Your story may have started in another country, but it has led you here, to begin a new chapter.

“We are grateful and honoured that you have chosen the City of Swan as your home in Australia.”

The ceremony also featured the announcement of the City’s 2024 Community Citizen of the Year award winners, listed below.

Mayor Richardson said it was important to recognise those who went above and beyond for others.

“There are so many hard-working people who make this community special,” she said.

“They don’t do it for the accolades, but we believe it is important to recognise them and let them know they are appreciated.

“Not only does it make them feel valued, but it may also encourage others to follow their example.”

  • Mechelle Turvey, City of Swan Community Citizen of the Year

She may be a local champion in the City of Swan, but Mechelle Turvey’s message of unity and justice has touched people all over the world. She has shown incredible strength and grace after the death of her son, Cassius, in October 2022. With tensions seemingly poised to boilover, Mrs Turvey sought to unite the community through shared values of love and respect. Her work with WA Police is improving support for victims of crime. She is a powerful catalyst for change and her advocacy has already earned her widespread recognition, including the titles of Midland NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year and WA Australian of the Year for 2024.

  • Janice O’Shea, City of Swan Senior Community Citizen of the Year

Janice O’Shea’s development of the first memory café in the City of Swan continues to have profound positive impacts on the community. Mrs O’Shea founded the Swan Valley Memory Café on the back of her research and collaboration with Dementia Australia. Her drive to tailor activities and support to individuals has made a marked difference to the lives of people with dementia in our community. The Swan Valley Memory Café provides a supportive and engaging space for those with dementia, as well as their carers and relatives.

  • Isaac Bhalsod, City of Swan Young Community Citizen of the Year 

At just 16 years of age, Isaac Bhalsod has shown remarkable courage in the face of tragedy to advocate for life-saving change. Isaac’s father, Ashwin, died in 2022 after trying to save his two sons from the surf at Yallingup Beach. There was a defibrillator at the beach, but it took emergency services seven minutes to provide the lockbox pin code. Isaac spoke out in the wake of his father’s death, putting pressure on WA authorities to improve defibrillator procedures. An investigation led to an overhaul of the procedures, with the generic lockbox pin code shared between WA emergency agencies.

  • Swan Family and Domestic Violence Network, City of Swan Active Citizenship (group or event)

The Swan Family and Domestic Violence Network is a grassroots collective of organisations passionate about supporting survivors and breaking the cycle of abuse. After the inaugural Midland March that Matters in 2013, a range of not-for-profit organisations decided to work together to increase the spread of their awareness and educational activities. Their initiatives include accidental counsellor training for frontline administration staff, and a training program for hairdressers who can become a first point of disclosure for women facing abuse. 

To learn more about the City’s citizenship ceremonies, click here.

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