Busselton locals gathered at the foreshore on Thursday morning to celebrate community members young and old – welcoming new citizens into the country and praising those who have dedicated great service to the community. Braving the early morning sunshine, the Rotary Club of Busselton Geographe Bay together with the City of Busselton held their annual Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony at the foreshore amphitheatre. City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley opened the formalities, highlighting the efforts of first responders in the community. “On Australia Day 2023, we reflect on the selfless and courageous sacrifice of thousands of first responders’ and frontline workers who put the safety and wellbeing of others before their own,” he said. “We reflect on the resilience of communities and the spirit of helping, giving and supporting that defines us as Australians.” Member for Vasse Libby Mettam also gave a heartfelt address, speaking on what it means to be Australian. “Australia is more than a country, it is also a promise,” she said. “A promise of opportunity, equality, and safety for those fleeing violence, war and oppression and a promise of a better life.” This year, the City welcomed 28 new Australia citizens, from 17 different countries, across both Busselton and Dunsborough. Among the celebrating families were the Van Zyl family – Billy, Leanda and their 14-year-old daughter Danielle - who moved to Australia from South Africa in 2016. Speaking to the Busselton Dunsborough Times, Mr Van Zyl said the family were excited to be becoming official Australian citizens. “We’ve come a long way and it feels really good to be citizens of the country,” he said. Not only loving the beachside lifestyle, Mrs Van Zyl said it was the amazing Busselton community that made them want to call it home. “It’s one of the main reasons why we chose (Busselton)… it’s very community based and everyone knows everyone and it’s just so family orientated and so lovely,” she said. The ceremony also recognised the hard working members of the community, with the awarding of the annual Community Citizen of the Year and Senior Community Citizen of the Year awards. Taking home the coveted community citizen prize was passionate mental health advocate Marshall Grosse. At just 18 years of age Marshall has made his mark on the community supporting a number of mental health initiatives, with a particular focus on young men. With many accomplishments to his name, Marshall has been a part of Youth Advisory Board and mentor for mental health camp Zero2Hero, an ambassador for Movember, a motivational speaker at community events, is the host of mental health podcast Lads Chat and is president of his school leadership team. He said he was not expecting the honour. “I didn’t really expect (to win) but I’m really stocked,” he said. “I love what I do and have been doing it for a long time now and I just want to help out as much as I can so really excited.” Also a winner was 85-year-old Delys Forrest, who was awarded the senior community person of the year for her service to a variety of community areas for over 60 years. Her efforts include significant contributes to ensuring the heritage of the Busselton District, particularly the Butter Factory Museum, being a long time fundraiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, an active member of local and state politics and playing at active role in her children’s school parents and citizens committee. She said her passion to help in the community felt very natural. “I’m very excited, I heard I had been nominated but I certainly didn’t expect to win,” she said. “When you grow up and have a family, you get involved with so much in the community and it just grows and grows and grows. “I just want to give back to the community that gave me so much.” At the Dunsborough service, Wadandi man Joshua Whiteland — who runs cultural, food and educational tours and programs through his business Koomal Dreaming — was named Community Citizen of the Year. Following the morning ceremony, guests were treated to a barbecue breakfast organised by the Rotary team.