SINGLE mother Abuk Madut is looking forward to swapping her title of Sudanese refugee for Australian citizen today.
Four years ago she fled her war-torn homeland with her now-estranged husband and four children to settle in Norlane.
Unlike Tamworth, where five Sudanese refugees were initially told they were not welcome, Abuk said Geelong had “warmly” welcomed her family.
Today the 31-year-old and four of her now-six children will become Australian citizens at a citizenship ceremony as part of Australia Day.
Her youngest two children were “lucky enough” to be born in Australia, Abuk said.
“I am very proud to become an Australian citizen,” she smiled.
And while her 10-year-old son Akuien cited football and cricket as the “best things about Australia”, Abuk said she was just happy knowing her family was safe.
“I love everything about this country,” she said.
“We have enough food, my children can go to school and we are safe – that is all that matters.”
Abuk, who speaks four languages including English, recently obtained her driver’s licence and hopes to own her own home in the future.
“I would not have been able to do these things in my homeland,” she said.
“In Australia I am free and I am very happy.”
Meanwhile, several Geelong residents will receive Australia Day honours today.
Among them will be Highton’s Jill Jeffery who will receive an Order of Australia award for her work with Guides Victoria.
“I feel very humbled by the honour but I keep getting butterflies in the pit of my stomach every time I think about it,” she said.
“It’s such a big thing to receive.”
Other Geelong Order of Australia recipients include Rippleside’s Dr John Backhouse and Whittington’s Esad Zorlak.