Mother and son Cathy Wiap and David Wiap Woodford were happy and proud to be become Australian citizens this week, having made Australia their home since 2017, and Bundaberg home since 2019.
The pair from Papua New Guinea are two of 40 people who received their Australian citizenship on 15 September at the Bundaberg Multiplex.
The day was both happy and sad for Cathy, as the citizenship ceremony fell on the same day as her brother Abel’s birthday, who passed away earlier this year.
“My late brother, he was born in September the 15th…so I said maybe he gave me the good luck to get my Australian citizenship,” Cathy said.
“I'll be sad and happy at the same time.
“I tried all this just for my son, and I'm so happy to become a citizen.”
Cathy’s son David suffered from abdominal tuberculosis and underwent surgery as a child at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.
He is now an active sportsman, playing football with West Panthers and soccer with United Park Eagles, while also attending Bundaberg State High School.
David credits his friends in Bundaberg with helping him to improve athletically and said he feels good to become an Australian citizen in the same week as his 16th birthday.
“I told some of my friends in school, and they're all proud of me and happy, and I thank them for being there for me,” he said.
Cathy was born in Port Moresby and lived just outside of the city with her family which included seven sisters and two brothers.
“[I have] many nephews and nieces,” Cathy said.
“They're very happy for tomorrow, they're all waiting to see the certificate.”
Cathy met her now-husband Donald Woodford while she was working as a stock controller in PNG in 2003 and adopted her son David in 2007.
David’s health problems meant he spent long months in hospital in Brisbane for treatment, and he and Cathy regularly travelled between Australian and PNG on temporary visas.
David said he has happy memories of PNG.
“I have lots of happy memories playing with my cousins and my family at the river we used to go to,” he said.
“We jump off a big cliff into a river, it's so fun.”
Cathy and Donald married in 2016, and Cathy and David were granted permanent residency to stay in Australia in 2017.
Mother and son now both love the proximity of Bundaberg to the beach and have made good friends in the local community.
“There's too many lovely people; old people, young people, very nice people,” Cathy said.
“This is lovely, Bundaberg, love to stay here.”
“Same as my mum, I like the beach, hanging out with my new friends,” David added.
“We go to the beach, go bowling, and then football on the weekend.
“I feel like I'm a part of the community, from football, my football career and my soccer.”
Cathy works at Mortimer Farm in Bargara and is proud to have bought a property in Bundaberg two years ago.
Cathy said it was a long path to citizenship, and she was looking forward to travelling on her new Australian passport and showing it off to family in PNG.
“That's it, I've done it so I'm free now, I can relax,” she said, smiling.
“I'm so happy.”
There were also 12 people from the United Kingdom, six from the Philippines, four from South Africa, three each from Bangladesh and New Zealand, two each from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, and one each from Canada, Finland, Republic of South Korea, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Hong Kong who received their citizenship at the Bundaberg ceremony.