Sara Palladinelli, from Italy, arrived in Melbourne alone, with nothing but dreams and ambitions in her pocket.
Four years later, she ventured to the Sunshine Coast and fell in love with the region.
On March 25, Ms Palladinelli was one of 463 new Australians welcomed at the Sunshine Coast’s record breaking citizenship ceremony.
The ceremony, which took place at the University of the Sunshine Coast, was attended by a crowd of almost 1000 new citizens and their supporters, with 347 families taking the pledge of commitment to Australia.
Ms Palladinelli said it was her passion for sport and gymnastics that brought her to Australia in the first place.
“In Australia everyone has opportunities no matter who you are or where you are from,” Ms Palladinelli said.
“I am a sport scientist and now have the opportunity to work doing what I love.
“After living in Melbourne for four years, I wanted to try a warmer, quieter place and fell in love with the Sunshine Coast straight away.”
Mayor Mark Jamieson said welcoming new residents was one of the most enjoyable and inspirational tasks he had as Mayor.
“Every new citizen has something special to share and, as a result, our communities and workplaces become stronger because of the culture, knowledge, skills and stories they bring to our region,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Today, we welcomed citizens from 61 countries including Argentina, Bulgaria, Italy, Colombia and Finland.
“The appetite for people to become Australian citizens is as strong as ever.
“Last year we welcomed 705 new Australian citizens from more than 50 different countries, however COVID-19 restrictions meant we were only able to facilitate smaller ceremonies.
Mayor Jamieson said there was a wealth of benefits for new citizens here on the Sunshine Coast.
“We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“From our hinterland to our coast, and every community in between, the Sunshine Coast offers stunning natural attractions admired by all who visit and live here.
“We have inclusive and diverse communities and, importantly, programs to help our migrants settle into the Sunshine Coast way of life, such as our Multicultural Welcome Hub, the Migrant Learn to Swim, the Migrant Work Ready program and the Migrant business ready scholarship.
“I wish each new citizen the very best for the future. We welcome you all with open arms.”
Citizenship ceremonies are delivered by Sunshine Coast Council on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs.