Greetings to all Rotarians and friends,

I am still located in Ballarat and feel fortunate that technology has enabled us all to maintain contact and some club activities are continuing for the benefit of our local communities.

Over the last two weeks, many projects and workshops continued online.

I attended the ”Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” September Workshop titled “Transforming bystander behaviour to upstander action, which was a practical workshop to inform and educate about the dangers of prejudice, racism and discrimination. A key message in the workshop was to promote acceptance across society and it highlighted this in four ways;

  • Creating awareness of the dangers of prejudice and discrimination

  • Educating to challenge attitudes and behaviours

  • Demonstrating that every individual can make a difference

  • Transforming “bystander” behaviour to “upstander” action

The workshop highlighted the dynamics between a perpetuator, the victim of inappropriate behaviour and the role of the bystander described as a witness who chooses to allow harm to occur where as an upstander is a witness who chooses to intervene to create change.

I am fully supportive of our DEI committee lead by Sue Vincent (Rotary Prahran). Their aim is that every Rotary club appoint a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion champion to promote acceptance including turning bystanders into upstanders.

I was delighted to greet more than 170 members, who attended the online 'Morning Tea with the DG'.

We were privileged to hear from six of our current Presidents, who gave some fascinating insights into their current impactful projects, all managed during the COVID restrictions and lockdowns. President Jenny Nunan ( Wyndham), President Josephine Falzarano (Woodend), President Heather Watson (Rochester), President Anne Frueh (Balwyn), President Jenny Foster (Passport Melbourne), President Teresa Carlson (Echuca Moama).

We had presentations from David Dippie (Rotary Keilor East), new Co Chair of the District Environment and Sustainability Committee, focused on new initiatives within Rotary’s newly declared seventh area of focus, Supporting Environment. Kitty O’Connor (Rotary Melbourne South) encouraged all members to become involved in the End Polio Walk in October by either forming a Team, joining an established Team or sponsoring a participant. And Betty Kitchener (Rotary Flemington Kensington) touched on the very important area of mental health and gave some background and current details of the Mental Health First Aid training program which she and her husband Tony Jorm (Rotary Carlton) developed. This is a training program which can be completed online, hence ideal while restrictions and lockdowns are still in place, and will equip Rotarians with skills which will become more important as society starts to reopen. The district is running a pilot program with 12 Rotarians early October and in turn the program will be made available to Rotarians across the district.

Club Visits:

My District Governor visits to clubs have continued thanks again to technology and my goal is to make these visits as interactive as possible on ZOOM. This week I visited Toorak, Glen Eira, Bacchus Marsh and North Melbourne. I am keen to hear from club members on my visits and welcome their questions. These questions, to date, have covered a variety of topics regarding membership, new or restarting service projects post COVID and the practical ways clubs can be a safe place for many people struggling in the ongoing COVID lockdown. I have also seen many opportunities to link clubs together on projects. I hope to visit clubs in person next year when visits are permissible again.

I also attended one of the four Writing Workshops organised by the district, presented by former Age journalist Jeanette Leigh from Rotary North Balwyn. This was a very informative session where we learned a great deal about words and the art of writing succinctly for club newsletters.  I thank Jeanette for giving her time and expertise to present these workshops. Given the high demand over the four workshops, it is intended to run other writing workshops during the Rotary year.

An example of innovation occurring across the District, is an event I attended, a Rotary Brighton initiative lead by member Jo Kwok in conjunction with Young Change Agents (first photo in this article) and Bayside Council. They ran their first Masterclass in their “Be Your Own Boss”series.  This Rotary centenary project is looking to inspire interested 18-25 year olds to be the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Local Rotarians, e-Rotaractors (Jessica Phung and Emily Whalen) and our RYLA District 9800 Chair - Jess Wheeler, are all getting involved. The club arranged for  support from Bayside Council, Rotary Foundation, Community Bank Elwood and Bendigo Bank Brighton. The project benefiting many young people, is an example of a Rotary club working with community groups.

The End Polio Walk starts on October 1st so make sure your walking or running shoes are ready, you have joined a Team and you have asked your family and friends to sponsor you.

Thank you to all members who, through these difficult times, continue to “Serve to Change Lives”