New citizenship is all about choosing freedoms and joining the acceptance of a multicultural society in Australia, says the country's Governor-General David Hurley.
He was the special guest at Wangaratta's Australia Day awards.
It had been 35 years since he had visited Wangaratta, saying that meant it "was probably due" to come back.
Mr Hurley's speech focused on the importance of being Australian citizens.
"Australian citizenship has come to mark an important common bond for us all, whether we're born here or have come here by choice," he said.
"It lies at the heart of a unified, cohesive and inclusive Australia.
"It's a symbol of formally identifying with this country."
Ten people became new citizens during Tuesday's ceremony, after moving from Italy, the Philippines, England, Vietnam and China either recently or many years ago.
They individually received certificates, and the children received toys, from the Governor-General.
"This is one of the most emotional ceremonies we are involved in, when people have made a very important decision in their lives," Mr Hurley said.
"They are all part of this community and hey have all made an important decision to remain so."
He said Wangaratta's and the rest of Australia's new citizens were welcomed with open arms and that their energy and passion was needed for the country.
Mayor Dean Rees said Australia Day in 2021 was a day to celebrate front line workers who protected Wangaratta through fires and the coronavirus pandemic.
"We look back at a year we're proud of and would rather not repeat," he said.
"We're proud of the way we responded as a community, firstly to the bushfires in January and then to the pandemic.
"We're proud our community followed he rules and kept COVID-19 out of Wangaratta.
"We're proud of our businesses that ploughed on through ever-changing restrictions."
He also paid tribute to Northeast Health Wangaratta for its work during the pandemic and said he looked forward to better days ahead.
The event was held in front of a small crowd at the Wangaratta Performing Arts and Convention Centre.
Volunteer who has many responsibilities
Firefighting, landcare and protecting parrots are among the many qualities of Wangaratta's citizen of the year Graham Colson.
Described as "reliable, practical and inspiring", this is the latest in the honours awarded to Mr Colson over the years.
In 2010 he was made a life member of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria - he has now been a firefighter for more than 66 years.
He is also a life member of the Wangaratta Ski Club, where he has volunteered for 53 years, and Warby Range Landcare Group where he has been a member for 30 years.
Part of that work is working to ensure the turquoise parrots survive in the Warby Range National Park.
Mr Colson was also a police officer for 28 years before he retired.
He said he was honoured to receive the award.
"I'd like to thank the people who nominated me for this award," he said at yesterday's ceremony.
"Thank you to all who supported me and have been part of my journey."
After spending his school holidays fighting the bushfires, Lachlan Carboon is now Wangaratta's youth citizen of the year.
The Galen Catholic College student was honoured for his volunteer firefighting work as well as for being a member of the school's VEX robotics team. He thanked his teachers and community members who helped him become a better person.
The Wangaratta Farmers Market was also named he city's community event or project of the year.
Faced with a big decision after the bushfires and coronavirus, they moved the market online with the help of 20 volunteers to keep farmers' produce being supplied to the community - even when supplies were low in the supermarkets.