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November 2023 Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends,

October was a busy month for me as I squeezed in a quick visit to Australia between our events.

We co-hosted a hugely informative panel discussion on 3 October on the proposed Voice to Parliament, prior to the Australian referendum on 14 October. This was not a yes/no debate but an examination of the constitutional changes proposed and the context for those changes. Over 150 guests joined us for the expert panel discussion moderated by Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska, Director of the Menzies Australia Institute at Kings College. We look forward to an ongoing engagement with the Menzies Australia Institute.

On 13 October, our West Country Branch once again hosted the annual Admiral Arthur Phillip Commemoration Service held in the beautiful Australia Chapel of the Church of St Nicholas in Bathampton where he is buried. The service was followed by lunch and a presentation by B-AS Member Carl Bridge, Professor Emeritus of Australian Studies at Kings College. Other commitments required that I could not attend this year but, by all accounts, it was another very successful event. Congratulations again to the West Country Branch Chair, Keith Newton, and his team. Please scroll down for some photos from the day. We will keep you informed about next year’s Service and would encourage you to attend.

On 2 November, the team from the Australian Studies Institute of ANU hosted the next in their very popular "First Eight Series" focussing on the life and times of Australia's early Prime Ministers. We were thrilled to be joined by numerous ANU London-based alumni to hear Professor David Headon discuss the fascinating life and times of Australia's first Labor Prime Minister, Chris Watson. A big thank you to the Deputy High Commissioner, Elisabeth Bowes, for her opening remarks. We are planning a new format for this event next year when we will present the life of Sir Joseph Cook, elected as one of the first members of the new Federal Parliament and later appointed Australia’s sixth Prime Minister. And after leaving politics, Prime Minister Cook was appointed Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Our last event of the year is the annual Christmas Carols (and Christmas drinks) at St Mary-le-Bow on 7 December. It’s free to attend and, as always, “sold out" very quickly. The capacity of the church is only 150. We always try to accommodate as many of our Members and friends as possible and so have opened up a waitlist for this event. Should you wish to be included on the waitlist, please click here. To become a Member of the B-AS and to support the work we do, please click here. And please tell all your friends to join us!

You should be receiving this newsletter in your inboxes on Thursday 9 November (apologies it is a little late). This evening, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Friends in the UK) are hosting an exhibition and fundraising event with Australian-born artist John Berrick at the McKay Williamson Gallery in West London. It's late notice (we did mention this in last month’s newsletter) but there are still a few places left for what will be a fabulous evening supporting an exceptional cause. Please let us know if you have not yet purchased tickets and would like to be included by emailing Louise Mulley at

Finally, for all our younger supporters, Study Options (which supports UK based people looking to study in Australia) is hosting an Australian university “Student Fair” in London this Saturday 11 November. If you know anyone interested in studying in Australia at degree or post-graduate level, please click here for further information and booking details. You might also be aware that the B-AS helps administer the Northcote Trust which is an exceptionally generous and prestigious scholarship awarded each year to applicants ordinarily resident in the UK wishing to embark on a PhD or research-based Masters programme at an Australian university. Further details of the award can be seen here. The 2023 awards round is now closed but applications for the 2024 round will open in late May/early June next year so please keep an eye on the Northcote Trust website for further details.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our Carols on 7 December.

Best wishes

Damian J. Walsh


Admiral Arthur Phillip Commemoration Service and Lunch

L-R Captain Adrian Capner RAN, the Deputy Mayor of Bath and Keith Newton, Chair of the B-AS West Country branch

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