We open our hearts and home

Having survived the bloodshed of their homeland that killed their father, Iraqi brothers Firas, Alan and Bahram Saaid will celebrate their first Australia Day as new Australians this Sunday.

"We're very happy," Firas said, after becoming a citizen at a ceremony at Macquarie Mall late last year. "It's a really wonderful and exciting feeling to be an Australian citizen."

He said the brothers left Iraq together as refugees in 2004 after their father was killed in the conflict and fled to a refugee camp in Syria. They now live in Casula.

Forty other residents are set to become Australian citizens on Australia Day, January 26, at a ceremony at Woodward Park.

Some locals will also be recognised with the presentation of a range of awards in the following categories: Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year, the Fraser Environment award, the Sports award and the Health Research award.

Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun said he became a citizen at a ceremony in Liverpool about 10 years ago.

"I can remember being at the ceremony at Macquarie Mall shortly after we came to Australia," he said. "And now such a short time later, I'm mayor of this beautiful city; it just shows the amazing opportunities we have to offer here. So I can understand how the new citizens feel.

"My father was born in Sierra Leone and is of Lebanese heritage and we were migrants to Australia."

He said Liverpool was a beautiful city to live in and what makes it beautiful is its people.

"And I encourage our newest residents to embrace the qualities Australians hold dear such as mateship and give back to their new communities.

"Community organisations like the State Emergency Service and the Rural Fire Service do wonderful work and they rely on volunteers so I would encourage our newest citizens to look into getting involved in that sort of work.

"We all need to participate in our community and continue to keep the good spirit of this country alive. But I'd also encourage them not to forget to keep their cultural heritage alive too."

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