Australian Baha'i History

Australian Baha'i History

The Australian Baha’i community has its roots in the dedication of a small group of people nearly a century ago.

In 1920 Englishman John Hyde Dunn, and his Irish wife, Clara, sailed to Australia and became the first Baha’is to set foot in this country.

In 1922 the first Australians joined the Faith. They were Oswald Whitaker, a Sydney optometrist, and Effie Baker, a Melbourne photographer.

Soon Baha’i groups sprang up around the country. By 1934 there were enough Baha’is to elect a national governing body, the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia and New Zealand (New Zealand later separated to form its own National Assembly).

In 1955 Fred Murray of South Australia was among the first Aboriginal people to become a Baha’i. The Faith’s numbers surged in the early 1970s as young people found in the Baha’i teachings answers to spiritual questions and solutions to global issues.

The size and diversity of the community was boosted in the 1980s when Australia opened its doors to those fleeing the resurgence of persecution of Baha'is in Iran. Their subsequent settlement, integration and contribution to Australian life have been a major success story. Visit the profiles section to meet some Persian Baha'is.

The Faith has gained a higher profile through its activities for peace, interfaith harmony and gender equality as well as the religious education it provides in many State schools in Australia.

Video History

You can view a short video about the history of the Baha'i Faith in Australia by clicking below.  You must have a recent version of the Flash Player installed to view this presentation. 

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