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Rotary Club of Sydney Centenary

Hansard ID: HANSARD-1323879322-117053

Hansard session: Fifty-Seventh Parliament, First Session (57-1)

Rotary Club of Sydney Centenary

Mr LEE EVANS (Heathcote) (12:39:21):

I move:

That this House:

(1)Congratulates the Rotary Club of Sydney on its centenary.

(2)Acknowledges Rotary is celebrating 100 years in Australia in 2021.

(3)Recognises all the humanitarian projects Rotary does to improve people's lives in Australia and around the world.

The Argus

It gives me great pleasure to move a motion to congratulate the Rotary Club of Sydney on its centenary. The Rotary Club of Sydney was the first one in New South Wales and was started by two Rotarians from Canada. They came across from Canada for the specific reason of starting Rotary clubs in Australia. Rotary's first article was in in Melbourne on Saturday 26 March 1921. It stated:

Lieut.-Colonel J L Ralston, CMG, DSO, KC, and Mr. James W Davidson are visiting Australia as commissioners for the extension among professional and business men of the 'Rotary Club' movement, which claims about 80,000 members in Canada, the British Isles and the United States. The Rotary Club movement had its beginning in 1905 and has for its slogan 'He profits most who serves best.' In each club there can only be one representative of each line of business and each profession. Its aim is to encourage and foster high ethical standards in business and profession.

The Rotary100downunder website states:

Ralston and Davidson only met in Los Angeles on their trip to Australia and New Zealand. But from their endeavours, within weeks, the first Rotary meetings were conducted in Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington and Auckland.

I congratulate Rotary Club of Sydney on its centenary. Dr Hugh McDermott and I attended one of its meetings a few weeks ago. We were both honoured by receiving Harris Fellows, which is the top honour within Rotary. Dr McDermott received his first Harris Fellow and I received my double sapphire. I really appreciate that from the Rotary Club of Sydney. My Rotary club is Caringbah. Its president is the Hon. Malcolm Kerr, who was a previous member of this House and who is doing some fantastic work within Rotary. Our club holds projects across the community. Once every month we run a community market and, on average, we raise about $120,000 a year. Last year was a bit down, for obvious reasons. We put the money into our humanitarian work.

We have a 20-foot container currently being packed with school equipment, which is going overseas to the South Sea islands to help with setting up proper schools and classrooms. It will be fantastic to have students sitting on seats rather than sitting in the dirt. Our club as well as many other Rotary clubs have sent several shelter boxes during floods and tsunamis around the world. It is a fantastic thing because the club can pay for a shelter box, which costs about A$1,200, to be delivered to any area of need. The network of Rotary can do all sorts of things around the world just by paying the dollars to have donations sent to people in need.

A few months ago Dr McDermott and I started the Parliamentary Friends of Rotary International. Subsequently we have found out that the Parliamentary Friends of Rotary International is the first of its kind in the world. New South Wales Parliament has started the movement so that all parliaments around Australia will have Parliamentary Friends of Rotary International. Having a common goal will be a good thing for bipartisan work within Rotary and other volunteer organisations. As members of Parliament we know that Rotary does fantastic work in all our communities. I congratulate the Rotary Club of Sydney on operating for 100 years in New South Wales. I look forward to Parliamentary Friends of Rotary spreading the love far across Australia and New Zealand and possibly further afield. Dr McDermott and I definitely are committed to making that happen over the next few years. I thank everyone for their attendance, and I look forward to hearing about all the work that Rotary is doing in their local community.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) (12:45:17):

I thank my co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Rotary International, the member for Heathcote, for moving this bipartisan motion. I congratulate Rotary International on celebrating 100 years in Australia and, in doing so, recognise all of the humanitarian projects that Rotary has undertaken during this time. Rotary International has played a pivotal role in improving people's lives in Australia and throughout the world. Rotary International had a fantastic and challenging beginning in Australia, being interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. The first attempt to bring Rotary to Australian shores was by young Melbourne architect Walter Drummond in 1914. Drummond had heard good reports of the Rotary organisation during his travels in the United States. However, the outbreak of war foiled any attempt to extend Rotary to Australia between 1914 and 1921.

Finally, in 1921, two Canadian special commissioners, James Davidson and Layton Ralston, were appointed to bring Rotary to Australia and New Zealand. We have our Canadian friends to thank for introducing this wonderful organisation to Australia. When Davidson and Ralston first landed on Sydney's shores on 22 March 1921, they faced another challenge. New South Wales was celebrating the Royal Easter Show. Davidson and Ralston reported, "When they do a thing in Australia they do it well." However, the festivities meant that the timing was not quite right to begin Rotary in Sydney. The legend is that they could not find anybody to meet because they were either on holidays or at the show.

Davidson and Ralston then travelled to Melbourne, where they met Walter Drummond, and the Rotary Club of Melbourne was established. After this success, the men returned to Sydney, where they met with some of society's most influential citizens: Sir Henry Braddon, who became the first president; Professor Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David, a famous geologist and Antarctic explorer; and Sir Thomas Bavin, a future Premier of New South Wales. They went on to become charter members of the Rotary Club of Sydney. On 17 May 1921, the inaugural meeting of the Rotary Club of Sydney was held. At its genesis, Rotary operated in Australia and New Zealand with 163 members and four clubs. Rotary has expanded since its humble beginnings. In 2021 over 1,300 clubs are operating in Australia and New Zealand, with some 35,000 members.

During the past 100 years, Rotary has delivered remarkable service to the wider Australian community. Its core motto from the very beginning being "Service above self", Rotarians have gone above and beyond to deliver humanitarian services to those in need. There are many examples of Rotary Service's projects in Australia. One of the very first early projects of Rotary Service includes holding an outing in 1921 for 120 children and their nurses residing at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. Rotary also responded to the devastating impact on families in the aftermath of World War I. There was a lack of ability to assist war widows and orphans, meaning they could not afford to celebrate Christmas that year. Rotary was given a list of war widows and children by the Red Cross Society and it provided Christmas gifts and food parcels for each family. To this day, Australian Rotarians serve with the features of fellowship, goodwill, high ethical standards and concern for others.

Rotary Australia currently undertakes a long list of diverse projects in and outside Australia. Those projects service disadvantaged youth and the elderly; they work to improve individual health and education, both domestically and abroad; they work to protect the most marginalised and vulnerable people in society; and they provide care to those who have been affected by natural disasters and other devastating events. Currently, Rotary Australia is involved in a myriad of humanitarian projects that touch the lives of people both domestically and abroad. Outstanding examples include the Rotary "sunrise community connect" program, which brings together Rotarians, local tradies and organisations to respond to the recent floods on the mid North Coast of New South Wales; and the Safety Bags Tag Initiative, which provides every student in Brisbane and in other parts of Queensland and across Australia with a "safety bag mate", which contains the phone numbers of welfare agencies that students can call in the case of any safety issue that they may be experiencing now or in the future.

Rotary is involved in other individual, personalised projects such as the Carroll family project, which has provided financial support to the Carroll family, who needed to relocate to Melbourne for their daughter Ava's bone marrow transplant. Rotary Australia repeatedly delivers fantastic initiatives abroad. One such project is Rebuilding post-Cyclone: Healthy Villages for Children in West Timor, which assists children who live in the poorest provinces of Indonesia by improving access to water and sanitation, establishing food security and rebuilding educational infrastructure such as preschools. Rotary also supports impoverished families and communities in remote villages in Nepal through the Care for Nepal project, which focuses on improving sanitation, education and health care, and also on promoting leadership and empowering women.

Rotary is involved in hundreds of other programs that time does not permit me to mention. I am extremely proud to be involved with Rotary International in my capacity as Joint Chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Rotary International. The New South Wales Labor Opposition congratulates Rotary International on 100 years of outstanding humanitarian service and on improving an enormous number of lives both domestically and internationally. We thank all Rotarians for their selfless dedication and service to our community. Their work truly makes our world a better place. Labor supports the motion before the House.

Mr JAMES GRIFFIN (Manly) (12:51:38):

I make a contribution to debate on this very important motion. I thank the member for Heathcote for bringing the centenary of Rotary to the attention of the House. I concur with the comments that have been made by previous contributors. Who would believe that it is a century for Rotary in Australia this year? To tally up the work that it has done in communities across New South Wales and, indeed, across Australia would be wonderful. I speak from the heart when I acknowledge the wonderful work of the three Rotary clubs in the electorate of Manly: the Rotary Club of Balgowlah, the Brookvale Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Manly. Those clubs are powered by the most wonderful volunteers in my community. The number of organisations and charities that they support is simply astounding. The Rotary Club of Manly has conducted its Manly Fun Run for many years now. Since its inception it has raised over $10 million for a number of charities and organisations throughout Manly. Importantly, Manly Rotary services and supports not just the people of Manly, but also people right across New South Wales.

The Brookvale Rotary Club pioneered what was called the Pub2Pub run, which started in the northern part of the northern beaches and finished at the Dee Why Hotel. It has not started or finished at a pub for some time, so this year the Rotary club chose to reflect on that by renaming the annual event the Beach2Beach. Again, the Rotary club has used that event to bring together people from the community. The race is not competitive for many people; it brings together families, including mums and dads with their kids in strollers. People really enjoy that wonderful morning to raise funds for important charities across the peninsula. The Rotary Club of Balgowlah has also done fantastic work. I was privileged to join the club for its recent annual dinner. Unfortunately its annual Charity Golf Day was washed out, but the club held a dinner that evening instead, which was attended by beneficiaries of the charities that the club supports. One of those organisations is Bear Cottage, which takes in terminally ill young people—that is a very unfortunate reality—from across every electorate in this State.

The fundraising that the Rotary Club of Balgowlah does for Bear Cottage provides benefits to people in each and every one of our communities in this State. I congratulate the Rotary clubs not only in my particular area but also across the State. If those clubs are an indication of the wonderful work that Rotary does in each of our electorates, then one must stand back and consider the profound impact that Rotary has had in Australia over the past 100 years. For that reason I join with other members in this place in thanking the member for Heathcote for moving the motion. I join with him in congratulating Rotary on a century of service to our community. I wish Rotary all the best for the next 100 years of work that it will do throughout Australia.

Mr GUY ZANGARI (Fairfield) (12:55:09):

I join with members representing the electorates of Heathcote, Prospect and Manly in congratulating Rotary on celebrating its 100th anniversary. To commemorate that centenary, all of the founding clubs in Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland and Wellington will join together and celebrate. I congratulate Rotary on that magnificent milestone and acknowledge the work of Rotary in our community. Established in 1921, Rotary has been a fixture in our local communities. For the past 100 years the organisation has prided itself on the motto "Service above self", which is testament to Rotarians' enduring commitment to making better communities and to making the world a better place by actively participating in the push for change.

The philosophy behind Rotary's commitment to public service starts with a network of like‑minded people who care about the community and who seek to serve the community. From that vantage point Rotary seeks out opportunities to provide service to the community. Our local Rotary clubs in Wetherill Park, Holroyd and Liverpool have embraced the philosophy of "service before self" wholeheartedly over the years. They have been involved in countless community projects and they have assisted our community in many ways. I will share some of the activities that local Rotary clubs in my local area have done to assist the local community. Those activities range from awarding scholarships and bursaries to students through to helping out the local police and SES. Rotary is always there to lend a helping hand.

During the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rotary Club of Wetherill Park managed to find a way to raise money for the community through a huge online Christmas raffle, which included prizes worth up to $8,000. The Rotary Club of Holroyd was very active with its bushfire recovery project, sourcing funding for affected areas and communities that really needed a hand during that crucial time. The Rotary Club of Liverpool West took its fundraising efforts to Cambodia, raising money for areas that were devastated by major flooding. There is a large Cambodian population in Fairfield, particularly around the Canley Heights and Canley Vale area. The Liverpool Rotary Club has been very active lately with its "pamper pack" campaign, which will provide women in the country with gifts on Mother's Day. As we all know, our regional communities have been doing it tough, so Liverpool Rotary has stepped in to lend that helping hand and to make regional mums feel special.

Those are just some of the things that our local Rotary clubs have been doing for our citizens. The list of community projects that they have contributed to is endless. I will take the opportunity to acknowledge the following local club presidents: Wetherill Park president Brigette Pecora, Liverpool president Barry Hancock, Liverpool West president Charles Hili and Holroyd president Vera Liondas. I also thank their teams for their outstanding work, and for their continuing efforts in rounding up businesses and community members and encouraging them to embrace a role of service in the community. Rotary makes a real difference in our local communities. Those communities would not be the same without Rotary. The efforts of Rotary members are much appreciated. I commend them for their service and I congratulate Rotary on its 100th anniversary.

Mr STEPHEN BROMHEAD (Myall Lakes) (12:59:12):

I say happy birthday and happy anniversary to Rotary International. Rotary plays an important role in our communities, particularly in regional communities, which rely on Rotary for so many services and help with various community organisations. In my area, Myall Lakes, there are five Rotary clubs, which have played a significant role over the past two years through drought, fires, floods and the pandemic. If we go back to the drought, our community Rotary clubs helped raise funds for hay for farmers. During the fires the Rotary clubs of Myall Lakes banded together straightaway with the Lions clubs and other community organisations to set up a one‑stop shop for food, clothes and other things for those affected by the fires, with the assistance of the council.

They also worked hard for our community by banding with the Lions club to gather funds, including $50,000 from the amalgamation money of the council, to build the riverside stage at Taree. Since then they have received another $90,000 grant for a series of concerts that will begin this year and into next year to bring the community together after it was affected so much by those natural disasters. This is a time when we are trying to get the community back together and Rotary is leading the charge. The Rotary clubs in my electorate include the Rotary Club of Great Lakes, with president Lyn Martyn and secretary Peter Driese; the Rotary Club of Taree, with president David Denning and secretary Dianne Wollard; Taree North Rotary Club, with president Ian Cahill and secretary Peter Smith; the Rotary Club of Taree on Manning, with president Richelle Murray and secretary Elizabeth Tollis; and Wingham Rotary Club, with president Allan Brown and secretary Ian Herd. As I said, they have done a fantastic job.

They have also raised money for other projects with the help of a government grant leg‑up, including $10,000 for a covered electric barbeque area at Lone Pine Memorial Park, Tuncurry; the organisation of Opera by the Lakes, bringing great opera to the regions; $20,000 for a "keep fit" walking track and adult exercise station; $15,000 for a SunSmart canopy over the exercise station for the Rotary Club of Taree on Manning; and $178,649 for a new shed to base operations for three Rotary clubs so that there is one central place when they need to band together. As I said, over the past two years they have had to do that. Now they can go to one place to get the trailers and the gear and go out to help the community. Wingham Rotary Club received $30,000 for exercise equipment at Central Park; $234,772 for new amenities with disability access and a covered walkway down by the riverside; a driver simulator at Taree PCYC to help young people learn how to drive; and $10,000 to complete four murals of the history of Wingham, which is part of a program to use art to help ex‑servicemen veterans and other first responders with PTSD get better. I commend the motion to the House.

Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland) (13:03:22):

I congratulate the Rotary Club of Sydney, the first Rotary club in Australia, on its 100th anniversary. From that club we now have some 21 districts, 1,100 clubs and more than 30,000 Rotarian members in Australia. I take this opportunity to thank the five local Rotary clubs in my electorate: Maitland, East Maitland, Rutherford Telarah, Maitland Sunrise and Greenhills Maitland. I was a member of the Rotary Club of Maitland Sunrise before I entered Parliament, and am now an honorary member of Rutherford Telarah Rotary. Rotary does so much amazing work across the world and in our communities, as has been well articulated by others in this place. I know firsthand the important work they do and the opportunities they provide for young people through programs such as Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, Rotary Community Corps, Youth Exchange, New Generations Service Exchange, scholarships and Friendship Exchange.

In 2017 my 19‑year‑old daughter, Jess, undertook a Rotary exchange to Germany. That amazing experience was the catalyst for her to choose to study tourism at TAFE, which was difficult during times of COVID. But she stuck to her guns and last weekend she left for a tourism job at Uluru, something I know she would not have had the resilience and independence to do had she not had that experience through Rotary. I am grateful but also sad about that. The Rotarians in my electorate have been working hard to celebrate this important milestone for the Rotary movement and to include the community in those celebrations. I pay tribute to them for that. Maitland City Council has helped by flying Rotary flags in the city and having the Rotary logo installed at Minister's Park in Maitland. I joined Maitland Mayor Loretta Baker on 11 April to open the Rotary relay at the city's new athletics track. It was great to see so many Rotarians out and about encouraging each other in the relay to pass that baton on.

On 18 April they had a tree planting celebration, planting 100 trees to celebrate 100 years of Rotary, which goes to show the desire to leave a lasting legacy for everyone in the community to enjoy. I have enjoyed lots of activities with Rotary, including Days for Girls, ShelterBoxes, and vaccination programs for eliminating polio, human papillomavirus, rotavirus and meningococcal. Of course, drought relief has been a been a big part of Rotary in my community. I encourage all members in our community to consider joining Rotary and to remember the motto, "Service above self". The four‑way test that was developed in the 1940s and copyrighted in 1954 for Rotary is important for all of us in this place and in every walk of life to remember:

1. Is it the truth?

2. Is it fair to all concerned?

3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

That is a great set of truths to live by and I pay tribute to the member for Heathcote, Lee Evans, and the member for Prospect, Dr Hugh McDermott, for starting the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Rotary club, which allows us to continue to pay tribute to the hardworking Rotarians in all of our communities and to work across the aisles to help them in their efforts to assist everyone in our community.

Mr DUGALD SAUNDERS (Dubbo) (13:06:56):

I am happy for the opportunity to speak on this motion of the member for Heathcote. I firmly echo his congratulations to the Rotary Club of Sydney on its centenary. From Narromine in the west to Mudgee and Mudgee Sunrise in the east, Rotary clubs perform "Service above self" across the Dubbo electorate. I pay tribute to just some of those acts of service. The Rotary Club of Narromine was pivotal in getting the Narromine Wetlands precinct up and running, which is now the home of Narromine park run and a fantastic outdoor community asset that the club continues to maintain. It works closely with Narromine Shire Council to cater for many community events, including the Royal Far West bike ride just last weekend. The funds raised—usually about $20,000—are donated back to community organisations like the Cancer Council and the Royal Flying Doctor Service [RFDS].

The RFDS has been a huge beneficiary of the work of the Rotary Club of Dubbo South, which has raised more than $1 million for the local branch of the flying doctors through its Destination Outback event. Dubbo South was also a key player in Macquarie Home Stay—a home away from home for the many thousands of people from across western New South Wales who access medical care in Dubbo. The Rotary Club of Dubbo South raised more than $500,000 for Macquarie Home Stay through its Tour de OROC bike ride. Now that it is built, the volunteers continue to support that homestay by cooking meals about once a month for the visitors there.

The club also runs Dubbo's annual Christmas fair, providing inexpensive family entertainment for the entire community as well as supporting LeaderLife, a not‑for‑profit that I have spoken about a few times in the Chamber that aims to give disadvantaged youth a brighter future. Without the assistance of the Rotary Club of Dubbo, the community might not have the annual eisteddfod or the New Year's Eve fireworks, both of which have been funded by that club, with the latter also supported through significant contributions of volunteer time and effort. Internationally, the Rotary Club of Dubbo has partnered with the Rotary Club of New Delhi, the Rotary Club of Dubbo Macquarie and, more recently, the Indian government on Project Dignity, helping to install more than 2,000 public toilets in some of the poorest communities throughout India. That project was pioneered by Dubbo's own Gargi Ganguly, who is a cracker.

Another project of international significance has been the construction of the Chum Kriel English language school in remote Cambodia, helped out by Dubbo's own Mark Horton and a great team. Not only has the club helped to fund the construction but also members from the Dubbo, Dubbo South and Dubbo Macquarie clubs travelled to Cambodia to help build the school and its gardens. Both clubs also contribute to the ongoing costs of teachers' wages. The Rotary Club of Dubbo Macquarie has coordinated plenty of events. In fact, the Michael Egan Memorial book fair, which has been going for 11 years now, was held last weekend, with 25,000 books on sale. Proceeds from the book fair go towards the Royal Flying Doctor Service and cancer research. The Rotary Club of Dubbo West supports a Baby Steps program at Orana Early Childhood Intervention and has also contributed considerably to the Western Cancer Centre Foundation. The Rotary Club of Wellington proudly runs the local markets at Cameron Park each month—an initiative it has run now for about nine years.

Across in Mudgee there has been a terrific spirit of collaboration between the clubs there, Mudgee and Mudgee Sunrise. The clubs have partnered to run the Mudgee Town Hall cinema, including an accessible session once a month for people in the LifeSkills Plus program. The clubs raised more than $115,000 for those affected by the Sir Ivan bushfires. The Rotary Club of Mudgee Sunrise is a major supporter of the Mudgee Clock Tower Business Awards. Rotary is one of those things that I think many people across the community like to be involved with. There are so many projects across my region—too many to mention at this time. This is an opportunity for all of us to say a big thankyou to every single Rotarian, past, present and, hopefully, future who makes such a significant contribution to life in the Dubbo electorate. I commend the motion to the House.

Mr MARK COURE (Oatley) (13:10:55):

By leave: I acknowledge the mover and seconder of the motion, the member for Heathcote and the member for Prospect, who are co‑chairs of the very first Parliamentary Friends of Rotary anywhere in Australia.

Mr Lee Evans:

The world.


And, I think we determined, anywhere in the world. This year Rotary is celebrating 100 fine years as a club in Australia, but it is 116 years since it was formed in Chicago. Rotary has come a long way since 1905. Rotary now has 1.2 million members across the world, with 35,000 clubs worldwide. I acknowledge the contribution of the vision of one man, Paul Harris. Rotary started with that vision of Paul Harris, the Chicago attorney who formed the Rotary Club of Chicago in 1905 so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas for meaningful and lifelong friendships but at the same time come together to service the community. Since then, we have seen that same commitment endures today through an organisation that remains truly international.

Only 16 years after it was founded, Rotary had clubs in six continents and its members now span the globe, working to solve some of the world's most challenging problems. They began as Rotarians to fight against polio, with a project to immunise six million children in the Philippines. Today polio remains endemic in only three countries—down from 125 in 1988. Rotary's programs are developing the next generation of leaders, providing funding to make the world a better place and making peace a priority. Its programs are not just for club members. Rotary has a number of programs throughout the world—many of them undertaken in my electorate through the Rotary Club at Hurstville. Its programs include the Rotary Peace Fellowship, where each year Rotary selects up to 100 professionals from around the world to receive fully funded academic fellowships at Rotary Peace Centres, and the Rotary Community Corps, which finds community solutions to community challenges. Rotary Community Corps unites Rotary members with non‑members to make a positive difference.

Debate interrupted.


I will now leave the chair. The House will resume at 2.15 p.m.