Hello everyone
This is my final message for the year and what a year it has been. Melissa and I would like to thank you all for your wonderful support and friendliness during the year. It has certainly ended a different way to how it started but we have all adapted well with whatever challenges have come our way.
I started the year by quoting Paul Harris who in 1935 said “This is a changing world; we must be prepared to change with it. The story of Rotary will have to be written again and again.” We have certainly done that this year.
We started the year with 4 Cs-- Connection, Conversation, Collaboration, and Celebration. And we are ending it with an extra C- COVID 19. We have embraced the first 4 and managed well with the additional C.

I hoped that the district and clubs would focus on certain objectives during the 2019-2020 Rotary year and this has been achieved. I asked everyone to do something different, and we have done that in spades. The district now has new successful committees to make us proud. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Environmental sustainability, and the Peace committee.

Clubs were encouraged to show flexibility and this has occurred with changes to schedules, venues, and membership models being demonstrated across the district. This was further enhanced by clubs starting to use video conferencing and other means of staying connected over the last few months. It was pleasing to see clubs adopt and adapt to the new technology so quickly. Many clubs reported improved attendance and there have been many new member inductions. We focused on the positives and looked to success rather than dwelling on the changed circumstances. Paul Harris would have been proud of us.

We lead the way in this area and thanks must go to District Secretary Jane Pennington and Mark Stephens for their support in updating the information on the website and ensuring timely important communication with clubs was maintained. On this point I must also thank Lesley McCarthy for editing, producing and publishing the District Networker each month which is also a crucial means of ensuring we all stayed connected.

Under the wonderful guidance of Club Service chair and AG mentor Johnathan Shepheard the Assistant Governors have been meeting each month to learn from and support each other. The enthusiasm of the AG group this year has been wonderful and I know they have enjoyed supporting the clubs and gained valuable experience in working as leaders within our district.

We have ensured more support for Rotaract with AGs ensuring they are invited to the cluster meetings and also visiting the Rotaract clubs. This is wonderfully aligned with the new elevated status of Rotaract.

We chartered 2 new clubs in line with the new club models in the Macedon Ranges cocktail club and the Melbourne Passport club. A new satellite club in the Southbank Orbit and a new Melbourne e- Rotaract club. There are also 2 new provisional clubs in Northside and Eynesbury that were due to charter in the last few months but are now waiting for an opportunity when they can charter face to face.
We have supported many club projects through our Foundation District Designated Funds (DDF) with 33 District projects allocating $135k with a project value of around $520k, as well as 9 Global grants and 14 Year 11-12 scholarships. This has been an outstanding effort and thanks must go to the District Foundation Grants team of PDG Murray Verso, Richard Blakeman and Katrina Flinn.

Under Murray’s guidance as District Foundation chair we have also supported two Global scholars and recommended three Peace fellows. Lets hope one or all 3 are accepted to maintain our unbroken record of at least one successful applicant in every year of the program. We are the only district in the world to hold this honour. We also donated $25k to the Rotary Peace programs maintaining our status as a Peace building District and $48,000 to the End Polio campaign.
Currently club and individual donations to The Rotary Foundation are down on previous years so if possible, we need to turn this around. Please if you or your club hasn’t already done so then donate ASAP to the Rotary Foundation. 
The District Conference in Bendigo on 27-29 March 2020 would have been entertaining, innovative, inspiring and informative with new and exciting entertainment and events to keep everyone entertained. The conference team were wonderful and worked extremely hard for 2 years so were deflated to have to cancel. We succeeded in providing full refunds for all registrants and we are now only $800 short of breaking even and looking to be in the positive with the sale of our remaining keep cups. This result also includes a transfer of $5,000 sponsorship for next years District conference. So overall a brilliant result. All the committee deserve recognition but I know they will agree with me singling out Conference Secretary Alison Bacon who took on a lot of work and was crucial in the support of bookings, refunds to registrants, managing our refunds from speakers and venues and so much more.
Here is a list of other achievements and events that we had:
  •  Drought response

  • DST working bee at Camp Getaway (Snow day)

  • Wyndham 1000 bike ride with Len Porter

  •  End Polio Now walk (Albert Park Lake and Lake Neangar in Eaglehawk).

  •  End Polio train ride and gathering at Federation Square

  •  United Nations People of Action award winner -Lucienne Heyworth (Peace fellow)

  •  Melissa and I attending Rotary Day at the UN and delivering a speech

  •  Life after Stroke Centre in Bendigo and a 20 km Walk for Stroke Association Victoria

  •  Zone conference in Christchurch where Ludovic Grosjean presented and Canterbury Rotary won the video competition

  •  Multiple Morning Tea with the DG activities providing an opportunity for everyone to catch up with the DG in person and then on Video Conferencing

  •  Foundation dinner with PRIP Ravi Ravindran

  •  Visit by RIP Mark Maloney and planting a tree at Rotary Park.

  •  Youth Exchange, RYLA, RYPEN

  •  Updated the District Bylaws to improve the process for Nomination and selection of the District Governor

  •  Happy as Larry Men’s lunch

  •  Pride March

  •  International Women’s Day breakfast

  •  Strengthening your club workshop

  •  Grants seminar
  •  African dinners, Indian and Japanese cultural days, and the Lunar New Year
  •  Bushfire response and fundraising breakfast
  • District ZOOM meetings- Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, Jess Wheeler, Eric Wright, Crowdfunding and Government grants, Mark Balla,Jeremy Forbes from HALT, Gabe Hau on Peace, and finished last Saturday with RIP Mark MaloneyDistrict ZOOM meetings- Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, Jess Wheeler, Eric Wright, Crowdfunding and Government grants, Mark Balla,  J

  • Club zoom meetings

  • Selection of PDG Murray Verso as the Council on Legislation representative for the next 3 years

  • Special awards event: Past District Governor Ian Knight— Service Above Self, Mark Stephens - Rotary Foundation Citation for meritorious service and Bob Fels—the Inaugural District 9800 Peace award named in his honour.

  • Club recognitions- Balwyn North, Wyndham Harbour and Caufield.
  • David Whiting provided an updated version of the Club Constitution and Bylaws as well as an easy to follow process and forms to make it easier than ever. This was provided for every Rotary club in Victoria and took many months of work. It is estimated that this saved our D9800 clubs a total of $32.500 and approximately $150,000 across all clubs in Victoria.
  • The DG published on the RI Blog site (I’m pretty sure that’s a first) and in RDU
  • Stephen Sennett (e-club) published on RI blog site and in RDU We flattened the curve but we didn’t let COVID 19 flatten us!
Being the District Governor is busy, but it is very rewarding and Melissa and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time this year. In Rotary we know that one person can make a difference but in the case of the DG a successful year is very dependent on the team of hardworking people on the DST and in the background, Presidents and Rotarians in all clubs.

I cannot name them all, but every member of the District Support Team (DST) deserves recognition for an outstanding year. Once again, I feel confident that the DST and all Rotarians will allow me to make a special mention of District Secretary Jane Pennington. Jane has been on w 2-3-year journey as secretary and was always friendly and helpful taking on extra tasks and supporting not just me as DG but everyone in the district.

Finally, I would like to thank Melissa who has been with me every step of the way on this experience. Her support has been wonderful and I cannot thank her enough for everything she has done, but beyond that she has forged her own friendships and special connections with so many people across the district and beyond.
Never forget that Rotarians are People of Action and We Change Lives. This is true for the lives of the many of people we help around the world but Rotary also changes our lives. We are enriched by the friends we make, the things we do, and the people and communities we help.

Despite some challenges in the last couple of months it has been wonderful to see Rotary clubs staying connected and supporting our communities. There is still a way to go before we will see a return to more traditional meetings and events but I know all Rotarians are sensible and will do the right thing to lead the way and be an example to the community. Most importantly stay safe and stay well.

Thank you all for a wonderful year as Rotary Connected the World.

Grant Hocking and Melissa
District Governor 2019-20
Rotary International District 9800
Email: granthocking64@gmail.com Phone: 0429 802 722