President’s Comment – 19 Mar 17

These are great Rotary Stories below:

What has Rotaract done for me?

By Emily Wood, Rotaract Club of South-West Brisbane, Australia

I’ve been a member of RotaractRotary’s community service and professional development program for young leaders age 18-30 — for ten years. As I age out or “graduate,” I’ve started thinking about what Rotaract has done for me and how it’s shaped who I am today. A decade is a long time to stick with something. So, why have I?

Opportunity. Through Rotaract, I’ve had the opportunity to do many amazing things:

  • I’ve traveled the world to experience different cultures and participate in projects.
  • I’ve lived and studied abroad as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
  • I’ve attended four Rotary International Conventions (Montreal, Bangkok, Lisbon and Sydney) where I’ve heard from and connected with some truly impressive individuals who are making the world a better place.
  • I’ve attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), a week-long personal and professional development program that helps you figure out what you want in life and equips you with the skills you need to achieve your goals.
  • I’ve received training in leadership, time management, project planning, event coordination, public speaking, governance, and much more.
  • I’ve served on local, national and international committees, helping shape the future of this great organisation.
  • I’ve been given free rein to develop and implement public relations, marketing and advertising campaigns for my club and district.

Experience. At the age of 23, I was invited to serve on the Rotary District 9630 Public Relations Committee. In my first year, I helped deliver new brand positioning (informed by research I undertook as part of my post-graduate degree), a bus advertising campaign, a new district website, new marketing collateral, and media and communication skills training. I will be forever grateful to the Rotarians who put their faith in me, and gave me the opportunity to test and further develop my skills. Not many people receive opportunities like this so early in their careers.

Confidence. Long gone is the girl who was terrified of public speaking — or even putting forward opinions in a meeting. Rotaract helped me overcome my fears. It’s amazing how fear slips away when you are in a comfortable, supportive environment, surrounded by people who share your passions. As president of my club, I gained invaluable people and project management skills, and developed the confidence to chair meetings, plan projects and run training sessions. I’ve since served as a keynote speaker and panelist at local, national and international conferences, speaking to audiences of 200-plus people. I’ve also established a reputation at work for being calm and confident under pressure.

Life-long friendships. Rotaract has given me the most amazing network of friends — here at home and in almost every corner of the globe. These wonderful individuals have made my life so much richer. They are passionate and talented, and make a real and tangible difference in the lives of others. We’ve shared many adventures and I look forward to sharing many more.

This week is World Rotaract Week. It’s the last time I’ll be celebrating as a Rotaractor, but not the last time I’ll be celebrating this great organisation.

If you’re a young adult aged 18 to 30 interested in helping others, developing new skills and having a great time, then Rotaract is for you. Find a club and get involved — you won’t regret it!


Being the oxygen that fuels the flame (of service)

Vasanth Kuppuswamy motivates students in Tamil Nadu, India.

By Bill Smyth, Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, USA

It’s not every day that an eighth-grade student’s essay rivets a teacher’s attention. But this one themed “The Oxygen That Fueled the Flame” got mine.

The essay, written by a student at Buist Academy in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, described his experience two summers earlier teaching English in Tamil Nadu, India, motivated by a desire to make a difference in kid’s lives. The story would have been powerful enough if the student had been of high school age, but this was the story of a 12-year-old boy.

I met Vasanth Kuppuswamy, and told him he had a wonderful story and needed to tell it. We agreed he should come to my school and speak to my seventh graders. We arranged for a lunch time presentation that January and the rest is history.

Students and Rotary clubs in South Carolina were inspired to help by Kuppuswamy’s description of crowded classrooms with no walls.

As my students watched the slideshow and listened to the story of two schools in the middle of south-central India, they were sad, disturbed, and a little mad. They had never seen or heard anything like this before, of students having to sit on the cement floor for their lessons in classrooms that held 75 children. The classrooms had no chairs or desks. There were few books or school supplies. The class was moved to raise money, which began at $300 and grew to $8,000 before the semester ended.

With the funds, the Indian school was able to purchase new desks and benches that summer. School supplies came next, then science equipment and ceiling fans. A wall was built around the school to keep animals out.  A year later, the school added a wing for eight grade classrooms. They added a generator, and hired a contractor to build a basketball court. The school even had enough money to buy uniforms for its Scout troop.

But that wasn’t all. Vasanth raised additional funds to buy a water system from Water Mission. A Rotarian shipped it to India with the help of OOCL, the company he worked for.  Villagers helped assemble the parts sent in four crates and dug a water line from the water tower to the building housing the water system. It was a lot of work, but the villagers and students wanted a clean water supply.

All of this took place between 2005 to 2007. Since then, Vasanth established an after-school exam prep program for 10th and 12th graders so they could pass their country’s national exams and go to college. He added a summer acceleration program for incoming sixth graders. He also bought four acres of land behind the school to continue adding onto the school, began a school library, and assembled a computer lab. About 40 students are now going to college every year.

Two Rotary grants enabled Vasanth to provide first aid supplies to 150 area elementary schools and feminine hygiene products for girls in all area high schools. His work has now expanded into providing healthcare for infants through partnering with Healthy Children, Brighter Futures. Four nurses visit the homes of newborns in the area to make sure every child receives the care needed for a healthy start to life. Mothers receive information about nutrition and child-rearing.

Vasanth graduates from medical school in May 2017. He will do a residency in internal medicine in the United States for three years and then establish a medical practice where the needs are the greatest. But someday he says he will return to India and build a medical clinic to serve the needs of all the people in this part of India.

Why is this project so significant? It was spearheaded by one student who cared enough to give his all, one teacher who shared his dream and became his mentor, six local schools and students in other states who raised funds year after year for each project, and eight Rotary clubs who got behind each project and made them possible. With everyone working together, these projects exceeded everyone’s expectations.

View photos of our progress at

President’s Comment – 12 Mar 17

Next GoToMeeTing Change of Date

Please note that I have had to change the next GoToMeeting date to Wednesday 12th April as I will be out of internet contact the week before. I hope that this does not inconvenience too many members.

When more women work, economies grow

By Annemarie Mostert, a member of the E-club of Southern Africa

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, it is important to reflect on the milestones women have achieved in economic opportunity, and the role Rotary clubs can play.

The World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap report identified the continued burden of economic inequality and gaps in economic opportunity for women across the world. This data isn’t just about representation and greater opportunity. It is important for global economic growth.

Put simply, “When more women work, economies grow.” And you may be startled by how much. A recent McKinsey report estimates that if women play an “identical role in labor markets to that of men,” this could potentially add “$28 trillion, or 26 percent” to the global GDP.

As a member of Rotary, the global nonprofit at the intersection of commerce and cause, I believe that I have to make an impact at a local level. Rotary’s model is unique because although many organisations allow you to network professionally or get involved in community projects, few allow you to combine both of these opportunities.

Twelve years ago, I started a nonprofit called Sešego Cares in South Africa, based on a model that combines socially responsible business with sustainable projects to empower vulnerable people through skills and enterprise development. We’ve educated and enabled women to start their own bakeries, gardens, sewing projects, libraries, and other small enterprises to boost their sense of self-worth, lift themselves out of poverty, learn transferable skills, and transform their communities. As our model channels the power of private sector volunteerism through mentorship and job creation, we’ve also managed to eliminate administrative costs.

One project of which I’m particularly proud is the Zandspruit Bakery in Johannesburg, which opened its doors in 2012. This is a self-sustaining micro-enterprise powered in the beginning only by a solar oven, which can cook great quantities of food to feed many, with no fuel costs. With private sector sponsorship, and help from a local Rotary club, the facility trains entrepreneurs seeking to enter the formal economy.

Eight community members participated in a Business Management training course, and now run the bakery at a profit, as the goods, including bread, scones, biscuits and doughnuts, are sold to the local community at a cost lower than other suppliers. Profits are reinvested in the community, and the solar oven is a more affordable alternative to electricity.

In South Africa, we are in the top ten (no.6) of countries where women work more minutes per day than men. This reflects global data which shows that ‘women still spend more of their time on unpaid work such as housework, childcare and care for older people.’ This means less time for women to pursue economic opportunities, fewer women in senior management positions, and limited participation in shaping social and economic policies.

All this compounds existing inequalities as women have a lack of access to important assets like financial loans, or a lack of secure access to land rights. Gender based violence is also a serious issue in the country, with ‘intimate partner violence’ accounting for up to 70% of female murder victims by some estimates.

Progress has been made in legislation for women’s equality, education and political participation, but to convert legislation into action requires local engagement with socially conscious local partnerships involving civil society, the private sector and the government.

Bold action is required to challenge the recent prediction that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, which is too long to wait. As Rotarian, we have a responsibility to use our unique position to make a difference.

President’s Comment – 5 Mar 17

Board Meeting 1st March 2017

Thank you to those who attended the GoTo Meeting last Wednesday. We will try and have a guest speaker attend the next GoTo Meeting to be held Wednesday 5th April at 6.30pm EST. Daylight saving finishes the weekend before this meeting.

District Conference 2017 – March 17-19 – Orange

Download Registration, Speakers, etc.

Accommodation in Orange

Orange offers you a full range of accommodation options when travelling here.
Orange’s Visit Orange site lists the various styles, quality and locations of properties for you to choose from. Use this link ( to see what is available and to make bookings for your stay during the conference 17-19 March 2017.
In case you haven’t noticed, or been for a visit in a while, Orange, Australia’s Colour City, is rapidly creating a name for itself due to its diverseness.
Whilst visiting why not take a little extra time before or after the Conference to experience our:
  • Fine cool climate wines
  • some of our many restaurants
  • newly commissioned Regional Museum, the Art Gallery and Library
  • the Parks will be in late summer condition providing wonderful ambience for relaxing – visit our Botanic Gardens and major city parks (Cook Park and Robertson Park)
We are looking forward to seeing you in Orange.
DG Michael Milston invites all the Rotarians of District 9700 and  their Partners and interested community members to come together in Orange, 17-19 March,  for our 2017 District Conference.
Listen to his recent Radio Interview – Michael is no John Laws, but the info about the Conference is compelling!
This will be the best Rotary gathering you will ever experience outside an International Convention.
The District Conference, named DisCon17, will be an opportunity for Rotarians and the general public to experience great ideas, exceptional speakers and learn about amazing projects from near and far.
This year the Conference Committee is headed by Lois Willing and Peter Perriman and their team have developed an exciting program which includes, by popular demand! an informal event on Friday evening followed by a day and a half of entertaining, informative and inspiring sessions covering Community Development, Serving Humanity and Inspirational Youth.
When you register think about the Conference Dinner – the THEME is Colour – as you might expect. Dig out that colourful dress, shirt, pants suit, kaftan, muumuu, leggings, hat, scarf, etc and wear it with pride as we celebrate the 100th year of Foundation and the diversity of our great district. The program is looking ‘very fun’ (as they say) with plenty of opportunity for fellowship, food, fun and frolicking to local muso!
This will be great way to unwind after Day 1 of the Conference. Hope you can come. Just tick the box on the Rego form for Saturday evening Dinner.
Registrations are now open for Rotary District 9700 Conference to be held from Friday 17, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19, March 2017, at the Orange Civic Centre and Theatre.  See below for details…
​​Friday Night, as mentioned above, will be the popular Renewal Fellowship and Networking Casual BBQ – numbers are limited, so complete your registration as soon as possible to ensure you get a ticket!
We have already secured the following Keynote Speakers:
Taylor-Jai McAlister: Holder of an Australian Rotary Health Indigenous Health Scholarship at Macquarie Uni, Taylor-Jai is a proud Aboriginal woman from Nyngan, NSW. She aspires to become a Clinical Psychologist who is able to support the Indigenous community in relation to mental health and well-being. She is particularly passionate about working not only with her community, but also the deaf community, of which there is an over representation of Indigenous people.
Deaf people have high rates of mental illness resulting in suicide, so it is imperative that mental health services are more accessible for this demographic. There is also a cultural barrier that exists for Indigenous deaf people who are trying to access mental health services, and as an Aboriginal woman, Taylor-Jai believes that she will be able to connect more people to these services due to her Indigenous heritage and future fluency of Auslan. In January 2017, she attended RYLA. “It was one of the most interesting experiences I have had so far, as I learned a lot about myself and how I interact with other people” reports Taylor-Jai.
Gerry Georgatos: Has remained constant as a social justice and human rights campaigner despite changing professions again and again and foraying into various experiences. Gerry’s own human rights and social justice work was inspired by his parents’ tireless contributions to the Greek community and in positively responding to the racial and cultural divides that were the profound experiences of his parents and his own.
These days Gerry Georgatos is a university-based and freelance researcher and academic however his professional work, as always, continues to be indelibly intertwined with human rights and social justice causes. He is the convener of Humanitarian Programs at the Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights. And in recent years he has dedicated himself to suicide prevention – a leading cause of death. Gerry Georgatos has been responsible for pushing onto the national landscape the extensiveness of the suicide crises among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Gerry has been asked to speak on Racism (and Rotary’s role in forging tolerance). Check his website
Both Alan and Rebecca will be addressing different experiences of changing the domestic and family violence circumstances our communities are experiencing today.
Alan Tongue – who grew up on a property near Tamworth, played in the Australian schoolboys and captained the Canberra Raiders in his firstyear at the club in 2000. He won Rookie of the Year in 2000, Clubman of the Year in 2003 and Player of the Year in 2006. He has designed and delivered a mentoring program into Juvenile Justice centres in the ACT as well as the Alexander Moconochie Centre working with detainees. Alan has designed a domestic and family violence program, which is currently being delivered to football clubs and high schools throughout regional NSW schools and the ACT. BREAKING NEWS: Alan was recently awarded the 2017 ACT Australian of the Year.
Rebecca Tolstoy – is an avid Rotarian (RC of Perth) and loves all things Rotary. Being part of Rotary made her realise her Path of Hope would do “more good” in the world if it became a Rotary project joint venturing with Salvation Army. As Chairman, Co-Founder and Director of the Path of Hope Foundation (The Foundation is a charitable joint venture established between Rotary & Salvation Army), Rebecca provides strategic vision and facilitates the formal collaboration between Rotary and The Salvation Army. Path of Hope offers assistance and resources to women vulnerable to, or currently experiencing, domestic violence.
Gemma Sisia – whose School of St Jude has received, and continues to receive, great support from Rotarians around the world. We have asked Gemma to address  The Importance of Education in Tackling Poverty. We understand that she may be travelling with one of her recent School graduates. So a great opportunity to learn about and get an update on one of the world’s greatest success stories!
Alice Mabin – Al is a special young person, demonstrating great inspiration, and was recognised as the BEFA 2015 Asia Pacific Female Entrepreneur of The Year and Australia’s #1 Rural Lifestyle Photographer. Not only is she a self-published author and photographer of the Australian and International best seller ‘The Drover’, Alice has published the Australian best seller “The Driver – Australia and New Zealand on the back of a truck“. Al was born and bred on the land. Be inspired by her passion capturing images that represent the grass roots of rural Australia. Al has been asked to share her secrets with us by addressing the question: What Inspires You to Do What You Do and How Has This Impacted on Your Social Conscience?
We will be releasing additional Program details as they are confirmed
We have been aware of the difficulty Rotarians are having in remaining solvent in these challenging times, and that your financial commitment to attend the conference will be substantial – food, accommodation, and travel. So this year we have kept the prices as low as practical, and will utilise the funds you commit to the District for the Conference. You are only paying for the meals and refreshments you consume, so it is your choice. We hope you recognise the value at a max of $130 per head unless you are the Past District Governor and then I hope you will be joining us for Lunch on the Friday.
REMEMBER:  As advised earlier there are many events happening in Orange the weekend of the conference so I urge you to book your accommodation now.
It is easy to Register on line, just follow these steps:
  1. Go to the Select/click on the button above or click here
  2. Fill in the Registration form on line
  3. Record the amount you will need to pay, you will receive an acknowledgement email of the registration
  4. Note the Direct Debit account details for DisCon17 and pay the amount owing, putting your name in the Reference box on your bank’s EFT
  5. Send to Graham Denney, by email that you have completed the transaction.
  6. If you have decided not to use the internet banking, please send a cheque for the total amount owing to Graham Denney, identifying your name as written on the registration form.
  7. If you absolutely cannot complete the online registration, then ask your Club Secretary to print off the registration form for you (or click here), complete it and send with your cheque to Graham Denney – we hope this will only be a last resort as Graham must enter every manual registration!
DisCon17 Contacts
Chairs Lois Willing  0417 498 011
Peter Perriman 0411 118 506
Registration Graham Denney 0413 409 883