District 9800 Bulletin
In the aftermath of the tragedy of the Christchurch bombings, as each Club is invited to actively seek out peace scholar candidates I reflect on peace as our core value. The taking of another’s life is an anathema for everything we stand for in Rotary with our overarching motto “service about self.”
We wonder at the values that could lead an individual, organisation and ethos to believe its OK to murder even one person let alone to mass murder. All of us have been shocked and appalled at recent events, particularly the one so recently, in a house of worship - a mosque.
What can we do as Rotarians in response to this?
Rotarians who stand for all in community - non political and non religious in our stance. Muslims in our District may well be feeling isolated, unwelcome and perhaps even in danger. We can be part of the solution.
I would suggest that a fitting response would be for all Clubs to contact their local mosque and offer a visit or to invite the local Imam to a Club  meeting and extend the hand of friendship.  How powerful and positive it would be, and what a statement of  for all Iman’s in District 9800 communities to be phoned or visited by Rotary Club Presidents with a simple message of “we stand beside you and reject violence”.
Last year in response to the terrible effects of the drought across many parts of Australia, District 9800 established a Disaster Relief Committee. The main aim was specifically to encourage and assist clubs in our district to support drought affected communities of NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.
Supported by DG Bronwyn Stephens, the District Support Team and District Board the committee was established as allowed under the District Rules and Bylaws. This stipulated the Chair and Co-Chair roles were allocated to myself as DG Elect and Community Service chair David Bourke respectively. It was clear from early conversations that we had a high level of support, interest and knowledge from AG Eastside Barry Hickman and AG Goldfields South Cliff Downey who both agreed to join the committee. With his excellent work establishing the National fund in partnership with Channel 9, the National Farmers Federation and Rotary, DG Nominee Phillip Archer also supported the committee with advice, contacts and experience.
This year’s International Women’s Day breakfast saw over 1,000 men, women and students participate in another inspirational event. The theme was “Let’s Work Together—Celebrating Difference” and the panellists Dr Emma Burrows, Rob Hulls, Fiona Patten, Josh Bornstein and Kristen Hilton explored this under the moderation of Walkley Award winning journalist Catherine Fox. MC Josh Earl had the audience in fits of laughter.
A highlight of the morning was the announcement of Jenny Foster, Assistant Governor Calder Cluster and Past President from the Rotary Club of Essendon as the new Royce Abbey Champion of Change. She was thrilled to receive her ward from Past RI President Ian Riseley himself.