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‘Busiest day of the year’ for beaches as heatwave scorches Australia Day

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Weather forecast, award ceremonies, Invasion Day protests and COVID-19 restrictions during today’s public holiday.

It's the busiest day of the year on Australia's beaches and multiple states are bracing for dangerously high temperatures.

Parts of NSW and Victoria will hit more than 40C, and Brisbane will cop temperatures in the 30s as a heatwave scorches eastern states on Australia Day.

Record numbers are expected to flock to beaches, and Surf Life Saving NSW has emphasised the importance of not taking unnecessary risks.

READ MORE: Australia Day Honours: Gai Waterhouse and Malcolm Turnbull among list

A packed Bondi Beach on Australia Day 2020.

"Please take extra care this Australia Day," Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Lifesaving Joel Wiseman said.

"It's vital you make the extra effort to swim at a patrolled location and do not swim if you're drinking. We want everyone to have a great day, a safe day. By swimming between the red and yellow flags, you're not only keeping your friends and family safe but also supporting our volunteers on the beach who are giving up their time to make sure you have a good day."

The warning comes after a deadly start to the year for swimmers, with seven people drowning in the past two weeks in Victoria and NSW recording six deaths since January 1.

Yesterday a man died after being pulled unconscious from the water while snorkelling on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Australia Day Awards

Grace Tame, a sexual assault survivor who campaigned for the right to speak about her traumatic experience has been named the 2021 Australian of the Year.

Ms Tame said in her acceptance speech she was focused on empowering survivors and using education to prevent child sex abuse.

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"I lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15," she said.

"I remember him towering over me, blocking the door. I remember him saying 'Don't tell anybody'. I remember him saying 'Don't make a sound'.

"Well hear me now, using my voice, amongst a growing chorus of voices that will not be silenced! Let's make some noise, Australia!"

The Australia Day Honours list features a diverse range of names including politicians, media figures and sports stars, as well as our frontline workers who have battled bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic over the past 12 months.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Socceroos legend Tim Cahill, cricket great Greg Chappell and racing icon Gai Waterhouse are among the names on the annual honour roll.

But Kerry O'Brien rejected his Australia Day honour in protest against the decision to give Margaret Court Australia's highest award, which he labelled "deeply insensitive and divisive".

The distinguished journalist and television news presenter was named as an Officer of the Order of Australia recipient, the second-highest honour, ahead of Australia Day celebrations.

However, in a letter to the governor general's secretary on Sunday, the renowned journalist said there was something "fundamentally wrong" with the honours awards.

"I believe the decision to present her (Ms Court) with this award was deeply insensitive and must undermine community respect for awards that were created to celebrate a true spirit of community, not divide it."

Mr O'Brien joins Canberra doctor Clara Tuck Meng Soo in protest of Ms Court's award.

You can search our interactive database below for a full list of awards.

Australia Day Protests

Australia Day remains one of the most divisive dates on the calendar.

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Each year protests are held across the country and this year will be no different, despite coronavirus restrictions.

The largest of the marches is planned for Sydney today with the Invasion Day rally expected to draw scores of people to the city.

Crowds at the Invasion Day march in Sydney on January 26, 2020.

Despite warnings from police and threats of fines, the organisers of the Invasion Day rally say it will still go ahead.

One of these organisers, Elizabeth Jarrett, told 9News it is "essential, imperative" the march goes ahead.

"This actual date represents the day of mourning for us, the first day of our demise as a people, as a land, as a culture," she said.

However, nearly 50 per cent of people are opposed to changing the date of Australia Day from January 26.

Invasion Day

Just 28 per cent of Australians want the date to be moved, according to a new Ipsos poll for Nine News and The Age/Sydney Morning Herald.

Of the 1222 people surveyed nationally, 48 per cent were against the date change and a further quarter neither agreed or disagreed.

Coronavirus restrictions

In Greater Sydney, where coronavirus restrictions are still strict due to the Northern Beaches outbreak, a maximum of five visitors are allowed at a home, per day, under the current coronavirus restrictions. Overnight stays are allowed.

No more than 30 people can gather in a public area, such as parks, reserves, beaches, gardens and other outdoor spaces.

In regional and rural NSW, up to 50 people are allowed at a house, and no more than 100 people can gather outside in a public place.

Source: 9News

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