Family celebrates becoming Australian

Becoming an Australian citizen does have consequences for a seven-year-old.

For Mark Burger it means trading ambitions of being Springbok for plans to be a Wallaby.

Mark, his sister Nicola, 9, and parents Marinda and Dewald were among the 21 people to take part in Shellharbour’s Australia Day Citizenship ceremony on Saturday held as part of the Breakfast by the Lake celebration.

The Shell Cove family migrated from South Africa to Australia four years ago, after visiting for a holiday the previous year.

‘‘We came here for the lifestyle,’’ Marinda said.

‘‘Australia really is one of the top countries in the world to bring up children ... there is freedom and safety.

‘‘When we came here for our holiday the average Aussie was so welcoming and friendly to us as tourists  – and I said that is how I want my kids to grow up.’’

Marinda said when her children left South Africa they hardly spoke a word of English.

They now ‘‘speak like Aussies’’, although young Mark has been known to occasionally switch on a South African accent to impress the girls.

‘‘The kids love the way of life,’’ Marinda said.

The decision was not without challenges. 

Both Marinda and Dewald were well established in their accountancy and finance careers in South Africa and to start again essentially meant stepping back 10 years in their career progression.

At the same time Marinda said it was  a wonderful thing to be able to connect with future generations.

‘‘The emotional thing for me is my children will be Aussies and my grandchildren will be Aussies and by becoming an Australian citizen means I will be part of the next generation.’’

Dewald’s name has proven too hard to correctly pronounce for some of his work colleagues who have done the Australian thing and given him the nickname ‘‘Mac’’ instead, which he laughs about.

Dewald said he was very proud to call himself Australian.

‘‘It is a big thing changing your citizenship and your country,’’ he said.

‘‘There are some mixed emotions in a way because you leave behind what you have loved all your life and adopt something new. 

‘‘It is an emotional day, but it is a good day.’’

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