Skilled migrants flock to become Aussies in Gladstone
THE number of new arrivals signing up for citizenship is skyrocketing in Gladstone.
The city has already held ceremonies for 172 new citizens in the first six months of this year, compared to the 207 who were welcomed in all of last year.
Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Gail Sellers believes the newcomers are a good fit for the region, because of the type of migrants Gladstone attracted.
Cr Sellers said while the number of arrivals and nationalities was increasing, she believed Gladstone did not see the racial discrimination experienced in other places of high migrant population such as western Sydney.
Visiting multicultural expert and psychiatrist Dr Tanveer Ahmed attributed the difference to the different "type" of migrant in Gladstone - highly skilled workers - but he said problems could still arise.
Dr Ahmed said even when there were not refugee tensions, there were still challenges with people on temporary skilled visas.
He said sometimes they were here "for a good time, not a long time" and could be harder to engage.
"That's where employers are wising up to some of that," he said.
"They usually spend a good couple of weeks learning the ropes, cultural education and linking in with councils and community groups.
"The best way to integrate migrants, through school and work, is still a good model."
The region will hold a variety of events later this month to celebrate its cultural diversity.
Cr Sellers said diversity is cemented into Gladstone's history.
She said Gladstone had welcomed European migrants from the 1950s.
"I believe because of our long history we've always had people coming into the region," she said.
She added that there were now more migrants from South Africa, the Philippines, New Zealand and India.
She said many community groups in the city helped people settle, as well as the council's own "welcome packs" and monthly morning tea for new residents.
Dr Ahmed will visit Gladstone next month, joining a panel discussion for a cultural diversity forum on August 2.
OZLEM Goray would find life difficult if it wasn't for the friendships she had made in Gladstone.
Compared to the year she spent in Sydney, she believes the friendly people in Gladstone and its many social events have made it easy for her to improve her English.
She and her partner Ozan enjoyed their time here so much they decided to get married at Auckland Point last year.
Living in a small city is good; people smile at each other.
The couple migrated to Australia almost three years ago for Ozan's work as a civil engineer.
A language course gave Ozlem, an accountant in Istanbul, the basics in English, but since making friends through Gladstone networks such as Welcoming Intercultural Neighbours she has more confidence.
"Living in a small city is good; people smile at each other," she said.
"I've found friends and I can learn easily. They are small steps (to others) but big steps for me.
"When I stay at home I feel alone and not useful but when I go out with my friends and meet new people I feel important."
She recently returned to Turkey to visit her family, but is happy to call Australia her home.