New year, new country for latest citizens

January 11, 2022 BY

Nicholas D'Agostino of Melbourne Victory (2nd left) celebrates with teammates after scoring a AAMI Park (AAP Image/James Ross)

SURF Coast Shire has welcomed its newest Australian citizens at a year-ending ceremony.

The shire welcomed 15 new citizens at its council chamber last month, who could be joined by family and friends following the easing of COVID restrictions.

The new Australians’ countries of origin included England, Ireland, Italy, England, Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore.

Gwen Holmes, from England, with Surf Coast Shire mayor Libby Stapleton at the ceremony.


Torquay construction company owner Reice Godfrey has been a Surf Coast resident for 12 years, and officially became an Australian during the ceremony.

He is now a dual citizen with his native United Kingdom, and said his new nationality gave him peace of mind that he could travel freely to see family on both sides of the antipode without fear of a lockout.

Mr Godfrey said not even a broken arm could stop him sharing the special moment with his Australian fiancé Jami and children, Sonny and Bailee.

“I’d literally got out of hospital that day. We thought we’d postpone it or get a babysitter, but I thought no, this means a lot and I want my kids to be there,” he said.

“For me, getting that citizenship was about the security of being able to stay in Australia with my partner and kids, where I want to be.
“It’s been a very, very long wait and I finally got it done.

“It was great to have it on Torquay and the Surf Coast where I’ve been living since 2009.”

Jonathan Carillo, originally from Ecuador, receives his citizenship from Cr Stapleton.


Mayor Libby Stapleton led the ceremony and greeted the Surf Coast’s new Australians.

“I would like to congratulate each of you on your decision to become an Australian citizen – a decision welcomed not only by me, but by all Australians,” Cr Stapleton said.

“Australia values the diversity of its people and our ability to live harmoniously with one another, something we’ve found more important than ever during pandemic restrictions.

“In the past year we have proven we can support each other through difficult times with the solidarity we’re renowned for as a nation.”

Thank you for supporting local journalism!