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Royal Agricultural Society pays tribute to Australia's forgotten helpers

Posted on : 14 April 2017

By Aidan Wondracz

The Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) marked 195 years of successful service by playing host to the 2017 Australian Citizenship Ceremony at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

It is the third year that the not-for-profit organisation has held the official swearing-in ceremony. This year, 195 conferees were sworn-in - a figure chosen to match the number of years the RAS has been looking out for Australian farmers.

OP Productions kicked off the ceremony with a colourful dance performance, showcasing Australian diversity. Dressed in exotic, vibrant outfits from all around the world, the audience enjoyed Uncle Sam moving alongside maraca-shaking Latino Americans, and tribal Africans jumping between Egyptian dancers.

RAS President, Robert Ryan, warmly welcomed the conferees, taking the opportunity to speak of the Society’s shared history with Australian immigrants.

“In 1822, the Royal Agricultural Society was founded by immigrants to this country,” he said.

Mr Ryan is, of course, referring to Australia’s early settlers.

“Some of the first settlers were struggling to adapt to a new environment,” Mr Ryan said. “The problems they were facing with crops and farming meant they needed to band together to help each other.”

And so in 1823, these farmers came together and held the first-ever Show. The gathering was an opportunity for agriculturalists to share their knowledge and exchange tricks of the trade with one another. A special mateship was established, and to this day farmers continue to help each other out of dire straits.

Immigrants continue to play a vital role in rural regions, Mr Ryan believes. Many have moved to low-populous towns saving them from obsolescence.

“They have worked in the agriculture sector helping to address the labour shortage and most importantly adding new skills and innovation in science.”

His Excellency General, the Honourable David Hurley, AC DSC, Governor of NSW, led the conferees in the pledge of commitment.

“I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,” the new Australians echoed. “Whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.”

What followed was a loud applause, undeniably fraught with joy and a shared sense of fresh beginnings.

For Nepal-born Sijan Dc, and his two-year-old daughter it is a watershed moment.

“The first thing I’m going to do as an Australian is take my little girl to the Farmyard Nursery at the Show,” he said.


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