What's happening on Australia Day in the Byron Shire?

Published on 24 January 2023

Byron Shire Australia Day Ambassador Allan Sparkes web.jpg

A range of activities are being held by community groups across the Byron Shire on Australia Day (Thursday 26 January). 

Council will be hosting a Citizenship Ceremony at the Cavanbah Centre in Byron Bay from 11am, officiated by the Mayor Michael Lyon, who will be joined by Byron Shire Australia Day Ambassador, Allan Sparkes CV, OAM, VA, FRSN.

“It is an honour to welcome our new citizens alongside Allan Sparkes who has won medals for bravery and for his life-long dedication to mental health intervention and support of indigenous issues and programs,” Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon, said.

“Mr Sparkes is one of Australia’s most decorated individuals and I encourage everyone to make the most of the opportunities to hear him speak and meet him in person,” he said.

Mr Sparkes will also be attending and speaking at a number of community events throughout the day including:

  • Survival Day 2023 being held from 11am – 2.30pm at Apex Park (Main Beach) in Byron Bay with a live band, speeches and music. Brought to you by the Arakwal Bundjalung People of Byron Bay, Sisters for Reconciliation and the Cavanbah Reconciliation Group;
  • The Rotary Mullumbimby Community Day being held from 10am – 3pm at Mullumbimby Pool with free entry, inflatables, fun slides, facepainting, BBQ and much more; and
  • The Ocean Shores Community Association’s annual Mullet Toss from 3pm – 5pm at the Ocean Shores Public School with a free sausage sizzle, cakes, Aussie singalong and prizes.

Read more about Byron Shire’s Australia Day Ambassador, Allan Sparkes, below.

Last year, Council made a decision to move its annual community awards ceremony, normally held on the evening of 25th January, to a different time of the year that will coincide with Local Government Week (1 - 7 August 2023).

“So while other Councils are announcing their Citizens of the Year and other community award winners as they normally do to coincide with Australia Day, we’ve decided to move our awards program to another time of the year that is more aligned with what our community values,” the Mayor said.

“We’ll be putting the call out far and wide for nominations for our new Community Awards in coming months – and we encourage everyone to have a think about who they’d like to nominate,” he said. 

For more information about Community Award nominations and events happening around the Byron Shire on Australia Day, see Council’s website.

Biography for Byron Shire Australia Day Ambassador: Mr Allan Sparkes CV, OAM, VA,FRSN

Allan is a former Deputy Commissioner of the Mental Health Commission of NSW. He is also one of Australia’s most highly decorated citizens.

One of only five Australians in the past 42 years to receive Australia’s highest bravery decoration and civilian award, the Cross of Valour, Allan has also been awarded Australia’s fourth highest bravery decoration, the Commendation for Brave Conduct, for saving the life of an Aboriginal man who had fallen onto the path of an oncoming train at Redfern Railway Station in 2014. 

On Australia Day in 2017, Allan was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to Mental Health Support organisations and the community. Allan is one of only 10 Australians to receive the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal.

As a former 20 year veteran of the NSW Police Force, he is also the recipient of the National Police Medal for Service, the Royal Humane Society of NSW Galleghan Award, the NSW Police Commissioners Valour Award (VA), the National Medal for Service and the NSW Police Diligent and Ethical Service Medal.

Allan is the Foundation Patron of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, the Chairman of the National Police Bravery Award Committee and apart from being an Australia Day Ambassador, is also an Ambassador for Kookaburra Kids.

He is also a proud supporter of Tribal Warrior Indigenous Youth program and the Indigenous Never Going Back Program at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence at Redfern and a mentor for the Indigenous Police recruiting program, IPROWD. He is a member of the Mental Health Commission Suicide Prevention Advisory Panel and a member of the NSW Police Mental Health Intervention Team.

Allan is also an accomplished international yachtsman having sailed his own yacht from England to Australia in 2009-2010, the best-selling author of “The Cost of Bravery” (Penguin Books, 2013), and an active member of the Australian Police Rugby Union O/35’s team. 


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