Staying safe on Australia Day

Rhonda Dredge

Not everyone was attending Australia Day celebrations this year or protesting against them.

Many Carlton residents were taking precautions against catching the virus instead.

At the public housing estate in Drummond St, kids were being vaccinated.

But they weren’t forced to wait in a queue. Instead, they were gallivanting across the lawn catching bubbles released by Becky Bubble.

“I’m a bubble scientist,” Ms Bubble said, as she waved her wand in front of the Cohealth clinic. “I’m doing it to entreat kids to get a vaccination.”

At the nearby Rathdowne Street Aged Care, visitors were doing RAT tests prior to seeing their parents.

Caroline Stewart took it a step further by rescuing her 94-year-old mum from a noisy Australia Day quiz for a quiet picnic in the park.

“Where in Australia would you see the big poo?” cried out a compere draped in an Aussie flag.

Rowena Stewart wasn’t answering. She was much happier having her hair done under a large shady tree.


It’s a day for family,” daughter Caroline said. “I used to go to Government House for the police band and a sausage sizzle but not this year.


Many with elderly parents have faced huge difficulties keeping in touch during the pandemic and a day in the park was the answer.

Caroline brought ham sandwiches and her dog, and her mum said she was almost back to normal after a stroke five years ago.

As a research officer at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Caroline knows how to handle health regulations.

She applied for an exemption during lockdowns and received one because she is the only relative Rowena has in Melbourne and was able to keep visiting.

“I was in full PPE, gown, visor and a P95 mask. It was awful in the early days,” she said. “We were not used to it. The centre was open, closed, open, closed.”

But despite the precautions the longest she went without seeing her mum was just two weeks.

She said there was COVID in the centre but they were managing it. Visitors are required to take a RAT test before entering. “All you have to do is arrive 15 minutes early.” •

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