While becoming an Australian citizen was a dream come true for Hina Asim, she’ll be skipping celebrations with her family to donate to the bushfire relief effort.
Originally from Pakistan, Ms Asim was one of 29 people who took part in a Canberra citizenship ceremony, complete with a handshake from the prime minister, a gun salute and a jet flyover.
“This is my dream,” Ms Asim said.
“I’m very happy. I was waiting for 10 years. I have no words.”
Her husband Rao Asim, and her two girls, Fajar and Kashmala, also became Australians on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of opportunities. I can be whatever I want to be. It’s my future to choose,” Fajar said.
Mr Asim said he felt welcomed to Australia the first time he ever came here.
An off-duty airport officer found a confused looking Mr Asim and asked him what he could do to help.
Hundreds also gathered to march on parliament house to protest against Australia Day later on Sunday afternoon.
Former Labor senator Nova Peris suggested Australia Day be moved to March 3, to commemorate the start of the Australia Act, which severed legal ties with the United Kingdom in 1986.
“You can still get your barbies going, it’s still hot, you can still get your cricket game going,” Ms Peris said.
“It was an act of parliament that acknowledges country as sovereign.”
“We don’t need to change the date but what we need need to change is the acknowledgement of what January 26 means.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told those gathered at the morning’s citizenship ceremony there had been a record number of people becoming citizens on this Australia Day.
He said the summer had been a reminder Australia’s story had been one of achievement and pain, pointing to the ongoing bushfire crisis.
“It’s a story of failure at times but at the same time a story of courage and perseverance,” Mr Morrison said.
“Many more stories will never be known but all of which will remind us … what it means to be Australian.”
He also used the occasion to announce a National Emergency Medal would be awarded to emergency service personnel who have given sustained or significant service during this bushfire season