THE 73 people who have become Bendigo’s newest Australian citizens all have their own stories to tell.
For some it is the first time they have been recognised as a citizen of a country.
Ashin Moonieinda, a spiritual leader for the Karen community, said he was happy and proud to be given a chance to be a citizen.
“I was in a refugee camp on the border with Burma for seven years, with no chance to be a citizen,” he said.
“I applied to come in 2001 and I was accepted in 2007 so I was waiting a while. It was very hard.
"In the refugee camp you could not go outside the camp, now I can go where I want. I have more chances.
“I want to do more study and start a new life.”
Rev Bryn Jones, from St Mary’s in Kangaroo Flat, moved here with his family in 1974 aged six.
“I have been here 40 years so I am a bit of a late starter,” he said.
“Now just seemed like the right time.
“This is my home, I feel like an Australian, and it seemed like something I should do.
“Australia day is a very special day to do it.”
Sini Thomas and her son Alfred Ajith, 10, who came to Bendigo from India five years ago said it was a exciting day.
“It is liberation,” said Mrs Thomas, who works at Bendigo Base Hospital.
“We came to Australia for the freedom, especially for women.
“Australian women are very fortunate, if you want something you have the opportunity.
“It is good for the kids.”
Shoaib Mirza, and daughter Sharoon Mirza, 8, from Pakistan agreed it was a good day.
“Australia is the land of opportunity.”