Down under Holds the Key to Education, Work and Lifestyle; STUART CUMMINGspoke with Some Toowoomba Residents from Varied Backgrounds on What Made Them Want to Become an Australian Citizen

Article excerpt

DID you hear the one about the Englishman, the Welsh woman and the Sri Lankan? They walked into a bar and came out as Australians.

This tale is not the ramblings of a misguided joke but rather a rundown for a Toowoomba Regional Council citizenship ceremony, scheduled to take place at Rumours International ahead of Australia Day.

Al Barrett, Emma Heaney and Bandula Nambukara-

Gamage will be among those who are set to complete their journey to becoming an Australian by taking the citizenship oath next Friday.

The decision Mr Nambukara-Gamage made to move his family from Matara, in southern Sri Lanka, to Toowoomba was based on education.

He was a senior lecturer in accounting and finance at the University of Ruhuna until 2007, when he chose to further his qualifications by enrolling in a PhD in his field of expertise at the University of Southern Queensland.

With him he brought his wife, Shymalee, their daughters Mahimi and Tharushi, as well as their son, Sanupa.

C[pounds sterling]I knew a Sri Lankan senior lecturer who was working at USQ at the time,C[yen] Mr Nambukara-Gamage said.

C[pounds sterling]He said it was a good city.C[yen]

Despite having to change universities a year-and-a-half into his studies, Mr Nambukara-Gamage kept living in Toowoomba and successfully completed his PhD.

C[pounds sterling]First of all we came here to do my study,C[yen] he said.

C[pounds sterling]But after some time they adjusted to this environment.

C[pounds sterling]Toowoomba is a very, very good city to live in.

C[pounds sterling]Especially for children.C[yen]

He applied for permanent residency in 2009 and was granted that status in 2011.

With his children enjoying their schooling at Rangeville State School and Centenary Heights State School, he applied for Australian citizenship in July last year.

He supported the necessity for candidates to sit a citizenship exam.

C[pounds sterling]It is a very, very good idea because if you become a citizen of any country you need to know the culture, the history and the laws.C[yen]

His children have been able to impart on their parents what they have learned at school.

C[pounds sterling]Sometimes they taught us,C[yen] he said.

Mr Nambukara-GamageCOs family has accepted Australian culture but not at the expense of their own traditions.

C[pounds sterling]We have over 2500 years of history and we have some traditions because of that,C[yen] he said.

The Singhalese language is still spoken in the home as well as English, with conversations often switching between the two.

Buddhist values underwrite the rules of the home and the fortunes of the Sri Lankan cricket team are followed with great pride.

He is now looking to further his career as a lecturer.

C[pounds sterling]If I get a job somewhere else we will move but the children say this is the best city in Australia so they want to stay,C[yen] he said. …