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Australia Day citizens call Sutherland Shire home

Home: Menai family Luiz and Luana Bon with their children Tomas, four months, and Maria, 10, become Australian citizens on Australia Day. Picture: John Veage
Home: Menai family Luiz and Luana Bon with their children Tomas, four months, and Maria, 10, become Australian citizens on Australia Day. Picture: John Veage

It is a long way from Rio de Janeiro to Sutherland Shire but the Bon family has not looked back.

Luiz, Luana and their daughter Maria, 10, migrated to Sydney almost six years ago. But it is on Australia Day that they, including the youngest member of their family - Tomas, four months, become citizens.

The Menai family are among the 48 residents (including seven families) invited to take part in the ceremony at Hazelhurst, Gymea, on January 26 - Australia Day.

Participants come from 21 different countries including Nepal, Slovakia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Rwanda and the Philippines.

Mr Bon, a software engineer, got a job offer in Sydney and was thrilled to secure the opportunity to start a new life in Australia with his family.

"The economy in Brazil wasn't doing great - overall the country was getting worse. We wanted more stability," he said.

"We'd never heard of the shire. I like its landscape. We like that it's quiet and that we can go to parks. In Brazil we didn't have open spaces - it's all shopping malls and cinemas. My wife loves going to the beach. We feel safer here."

The family had the chance to become citizens online during lockdown, but decided to wait until they could take the oath in person.

"My wife especially wanted to do it together with the community," Mr Bon said.

The Briddon family of Loftus are also among the new citizens who will officially call the shire home.

Proud Australians: Simon and Helen Briddon and their children Ethan, nine, and Freya, seven, become Australian citizens on January 26. Picture: John Veage

Proud Australians: Simon and Helen Briddon and their children Ethan, nine, and Freya, seven, become Australian citizens on January 26. Picture: John Veage

Helen, Simon and their two children Ethan, nine, and Freya, seven, moved to Australia about five years ago, from Hertfordshire, near London in the UK.

"It's something we thought about for a long time. Once we had children, we wanted a lifestyle change," Mrs Briddon said.

Mrs Briddon is a nurse in paediatrics and Mr Briddon works as a construction project manager.

"We explored the area and we really like the sense of community and the quiet suburbs," Mrs Briddon said. "Everyone is so friendly. You walk down the street and people say hello. There are great beaches and we love being close to the Royal National Park and being able to go for bushwalks.

"We are excited to become citizens. We want to integrate ourselves into the Australian culture and community. We've always felt welcome and this is home for us now. It's the icing on the cake."