Australia Day Update
Wollongong City Council is making changes to the city’s Australia Day activities for Wednesday 26 January 2022.
While plans for the annual community-focussed day had already been pared back, with the traditional food and market stalls, rides and entertainment put on hold for the year, Council is making further changes to the event in light of the current COVID-19 environment.
The 9pm fireworks will continue, as planned, but the Australia Day Awards and annual Citizenship Ceremony will now be held online.
The fireworks will follow the successful format from New Year’s Eve, with the display fired higher into the air allowing it to be seen from further away. This will allow our community members to see the display from a range of locations and maintain their social distance from others. A HARS flyover at 5.15pm is also currently planned to continue.
“Australia Day is about all of us who acknowledge this amazing land as our home and its past both good and bad,’’ Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said,
“It has gone through some challenging times in the past and this Australia Day will be yet another. I invite all our residents to celebrate this Australia Day in smaller, simpler and safer ways in the interests of our community’s health and our City’s future.’’
The Australia Day Awards will be announced on Tuesday 25 January.
“Naturally, we had hoped to be able to host the Awards with our community representatives joining us in person to celebrate their nominations, and those who collect the awards,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
“But this was not to be the case. Our focus throughout the pandemic has been on community safety and that of our staff and their families. The current COVID-19 outbreak makes it impossible for us to hold this event in a format other than online.’’
The 2022 Australia Day Awards cover nine categories, including Community Group of the Year and the Wollongong to the World Award.
Previous winners of Wollongong’s Citizen of the Year include Chaplain John Kewa in 2021, Geoff Phillips in 2020 and Dr Justin Yerbury in 2019.
Read more about on the Australia Day Citizen of the Year awards.
The Citizenship Ceremony will be divided into two sessions on Wednesday 26 January. It isn’t the first time Council’s Citizenship Ceremonies have been held online, with a mixture of in-person and online formats being used since March 2020 in response to the pandemic.
“Taking out citizenship is a real milestone for many people and as Lord Mayor I always enjoy the opportunity to support our city’s newest citizens as they take the oath and commit to Australia on a really personal level,’’ Cr Bradbery said,
“Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve hosted a large number of online citizenship ceremonies and it’s always a really special affair. This Australia Day, we’re looking to welcome 80 new citizens, and for these people it will be an occasion to remember and celebrate.’’
The Australia Day Aquathon which starts at 8am, and the Australia Day Regatta from 12 noon are currently planned to continue. These events are not Council-organised activities.
Cr Bradbery encouraged community members to stay up-to-date with the Australia Day updates, as well as other Council-related services though Council’s website and social media channels.
“We’re facing a really difficult phase in the pandemic and, as a community, we need to be flexible in our plans and approach to living with the number of COVID infections,’’ he said.
“As a community we can do the right thing – wearing masks, getting tested and isolating if we’re unwell, maintaining our personal hygiene habits and being socially distant when we’re out and about.
“In the lead up to Australia Day we will continue to review our plans and take on the advice of the NSW Government and NSW Health. For those who are planning to come along to the fireworks display, I ask them to be cautious and considerate. If you’re healthy and planning to come along, think about how you can enjoy the display at a social distance from others.’’