The first Australian Baha’i woman was Effie Baker, a photographer and model-maker from Goldsborough who studied at the Ballarat East School of Art. Effie joined the Baha’i Faith in Melbourne in 1922 after hearing a talk by Baha’i pioneers Clara and Hyde Dunn. The following year, 17 Baha’is gathered in South Yarra to form Australia’s first Baha’i institution, the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Melbourne.
In 1924, the prominent American Baha’i journalist, Martha Root, travelled to Melbourne where she presented 25 lectures in as many days. Her visit gave new impetus to the state’s small Baha’i community. The Baha’i Faith soon spread to Ballarat, Geelong and other regional centres.
Since the 1950s, the Baha’is of Ballarat have been actively engaged in neighbourhood community development activities that are open to all regardless of faith or background.
These include spiritual empowerment programs for junior youth, spiritual education classes for children and preschoolers, gatherings that strengthen the devotional life of the community, and study circles on spiritual themes.
Feature image by Fiona Gohari