When Michael Streatfield first applied in 2003 he had no idea how long it would take to realise his dream to be officially recognised as an Australian citizen.
At the time he was attempting to join the Australian Defence Force and the entrance tests clashed with his scheduled citizenship ceremony, so it never went ahead.
But that didn’t stop him proudly showing his allegiance to the country where he has lived since four years of age and he has an Australian-themed tattoo covering much of his right arm to prove it.
Last month Australian Government officials contacted him to see if he was still interested in becoming an Australian citizen and he jumped at the chance. And last week he joined eight other would-be citizens at a ceremony in Grafton conducted by Clarence Valley Mayor, Jim Simmons, and couldn’t be happier.
“It’s like Christmas,” he said.
Michael, who was born in Denmark, moved to Australia after his mother married an Australian and settled here. His younger brother was born here and was automatically a citizen.
He now lives in Glenreagh and works as a pastry chef in Coffs Harbour.
He was one of nine who had citizenship conferred last month.
Josephine and daughter Caroline Turner, who is “about seven”, were two of the others at the ceremony.
Josephine, who is originally from the Philippines where she worked in hotel reception, gained permanent residency while living in Cairns with husband Chris and family.
But getting citizenship and living in the Clarence Valley has topped it off.
“I love the river, Wooli beach and the schools,” she said.
“Citizenship means a lot.”
Cr Simmons said conducting the citizenship ceremonies was one of the most rewarding aspects of his role as mayor.
“They bring along their family and friends to share in the moment and the smiles on their faces are priceless,” he said.
“Becoming an Australian is really meaningful to them and it is an honour to share in their joy.”