2020-2021 Edition 38


District Governor's Message
Rotary Eynesbury Charters

Last Sunday, 14th March, I attended the Rotary Club of Eynesbury charter event. It was fantastic! People from around the District attended, many who had not seen each other for over twelve months and it was wonderful to see the kind of camaraderie for which Rotarians are renowned. The brunch event was held in a marquee with many local business and community people in attendance, including the Mayor and four councillors. The Club chartered with 21 members, with a further member joining after being so inspired by the guest speakers at the event. Well done to Loryn Clark and all those involved with this charter, and I wish the members of this new and vibrant club every success going forward.

A new communication connection program is about to be piloted with the Goldfields Cluster clubs. This program, called Common Times, will connect local communities and attract volunteers and donors by sharing events and opportunities in their region via a website that differs substantially from other forms of media. Our aim of course, is also to attract new members, particularly to charter a new club at Heathcote and a satellite millennial group for the Goldfields Cluster. I will provide further information about Common Times and the results of the pilot program in coming editions of Networker.  

It has been genuinely pleasing to see during my club visits, that all Rotarians are so upbeat about coming back together for face-to-face meetings. Let’s keep the spirit up and in coming weeks I will talk more about the last quarter of this Rotary year and what we can do together to achieve as much as possible and have fun doing it.

Enjoy the week ahead in giving service above self.

Rotary District 9800 Governor Philip Archer

Paul Harris Quote of the Week

The lure of Rotary has ever been the friendships that have been found there.

The Founder of Rotary 

The Rotary / Days For Girls Partnership

By Rowan McClean

Partnerships allow Rotary to ‘do good in the world’ beyond just its own capacity.  Here is a great example.

Days For Girls International (DfG) is an award-winning Non Government Organisation that works to shatter stigma and limitations associated with menstruation for improved female health, education, and livelihoods. Since 2008, DfG has reached over two million women and girls in 144 countries with menstrual health solutions and education, trained 200 enterprise leaders, and mobilised over 1,000 volunteer chapters, teams, and clubs.

An American woman, who saw the need to help girls in Kenya that were prevented from attending school during their menstrual cycles, started DfG about 12 years ago. At that time, thirty-eight per cent of young girls were not able to attend school. Providing hygiene kits consisting of brightly coloured materials that can be laundered and used for upt to three years, has resulted in that figure being reduced to just seven per cent. Previously, girls were often embarrassed, isolated and unable to access or afford sanitary items.

DfG Kenya Enterprise Leader, Alice Wambui Mwangi recently observed: "We are making washable menstrual kits that help keep girls in school and give them hope for breaking the cycle of early marriage and childbirth. An educated girl can break the cycle of poverty and empower her to follow her dreams.”

An Australian offshoot is now responsible for the Pacific area. In 2016, two North Balwyn Rotarians and two Rotarian partners visited the Solomon Islands where the club had been conducting community support projects for some time and knew there were some sewing machines. Jane Pennington and Bev Sofra in particular progressed the project.

Bev told Networker: “We taught girls from a boarding school in Henderson, and a truck load of girls from the Tetere community an hour away, how to make kits.  Many of the school sewing machines needed attention.”

A new overlocker machine was arranged by the club and taken to the school on a second trip about two years later. Rotarian “Mr Sewing” Brian Thomas and his wife Bev joined this team, and a thorough review of machines was conducted, repaired and a local man was trained in maintenance. For the other Rotarians in the team, the focus was on train-the-trainer for the teachers at Henderson and from surrounding missions and schools. Twenty leaders were trained in appropriate sewing techniques.

Rotary North Balwyn has funded some project expenses, including a third visit, as well as supplies and materials. Brian Thomas has recently funded the purchase of four sewing tables, two cupboards, a bookshelf and a wardrobe to support further training. 

The North Balwyn DfG group has now produced more than 1,000 kits. Other partners such as World Vision and No Roads (in Papua New Guinea) often handle distribution.

Local enterprises will be encouraged to commence to make and distribute the kits, and a traffic light grading system by country has been adopted to identify where local businesses have commenced so as to avoid unfair competition. To avoid ‘treading on toes’, DfG checks in the traffic light orange-coded countries with the authorities responsible to see what specific approach is required.  DfG can either supply direct, or distribute the kits through local enterprises.

“The Solomon Islands have a few small start-up groups, but they cannot produce anywhere near the volumes needed so there are currently no restrictions,” Bev advises.

With Melbourne’s COVID lockdowns lifted, the North Balwyn DfG group has recommenced sewing days. Other Rotarians are planning to join the group, so the future of this valuable partnership is assured.

How Can We Decide Which Project to Prioritise?

By Rowan McClean

A useful model to help answer this question is to compare the impact and implementation of the projects that are competing for club attention.

The IMPACT of a project can be considered from two key aspects:  

  1. The exposure it will give the club through visibility in the community or through external attention such as local press/social media coverage.

    Public displays, festivals and exhibitions are ideal occasions for club members to be seen. Wearing club livery is highly visible and creates an impression with non-Rotarians attending. Working on projects with partners such as local councils, other charities and traders’ associations may provide opportunities to be seen.

  2. The extent of benefit to the potential beneficiaries.

    This can take many forms, but Rotary seeks sustainable solutions such as teaching people to grow their own food rather than just feeding them when inevitably they will be hungry again tomorrow

    The number of people benefiting is also an important consideration. By way of example, providing a multi-media projector for a school will benefit many students than a laptop for an individual student.

The ease of IMPLEMENTATION of projects is also an important consideration. How easy is it to achieve the results desired? Complexity, the time required, costs, access, the number of people involved, cultural differences and the demands of regulations involved might all be factors here.

Long-Serving Rotarians Barbara & John Rafter - A Strong Partnership

John and Barbara have run the Rotary organisational gauntlet, calling for persistence and dedication.

In 1969, John was told by Rotary he did not qualify as a member because he was a tradesman and only business owners, managers and professional people could join. Seven years later he bought a newsagency and joined Rotary St Albans. 

Over the following fifteen years, John completed a number of FAIM (now Rotary Australia World Community Service) school projects in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Western Samoa where he met a Bishop, Arch Bishop and a Cardinal. He was hoping to do a similar project in Rome where he might have had afternoon tea with the Pope!

Rotary St Albans was very active, albeit a small club, and big achievements included funding a local hydrotherapy pool for the disabled and a bicycle traffic education centre at Green Gully, each costing $100,000.

John became Club President in 1993/94 and recruited 11 new members, including his wife Barbara who went on to help prepare a matching grant with their two Rotary sister clubs located in Shiroi, Japan, and Kishorenganj in Bangladesh to fund a toilet block and a medical /community centre in Bangladesh. In 1997, the Rafters ran a very successful Presidents-elect Training Seminar (PETS) by themselves.

In the same year, St Albans Club was renamed Brimbank Central, and Barbara assisted with the transition. She then became the first female Club President 1999/2000.

Rotary International conventions have proven a big hit with both John and Barbara. After being so impressed with their first convention in Melbourne in 1993, the following year they went to the Taipei convention and have now been to 12 conventions.          

At the 2006 Copenhagen convention, delegates were urged to promote the Paul Harris Society in their Districts. On their return, John and Barbara asked then-D9800 Governor Bernie Walsh to form a society (the first in Australia), and John was appointed administrator. John then made contact with other Zone 8 Governors resulting in six Paul Harris Societies being formed by the end of 2009.

It was a sad duty that Barbara performed in overseeing the closure of Rotary Brimbank Central in 2018, with most remaining members joining Rotary Keilor East. Both Barbara and John were both inducted to the club that year. John deeply regretted the loss of Brimbank Central given he had been so heavily involved for 44 years. However, today he can happily say “our club” when describing Keilor East.

Their message is: “Fellowship creates club families wanting to help others. Let’s not lose it.”

Healing the Hurt - Rotary Club of Melbourne Centenary Project

Beginning as a response to the Victorian Commission on Family Violence in 2017, the Healing the Hurt project focused on the needs of children who live in traumatic situations. While there are numerous agencies and therapists who support families, they lack the specialised training to treat trauma.

The Rotary Club of Melbourne funded the training of 33 therapists from 12 agencies in the not-for-profit sector to learn how to use EMDR (Eye Movement & Desensitisation) Therapy recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for treating children with traumatic memories.

In 2018, 18 therapists from Foundation House (the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture) were trained by Dr Derek Farrell from Trauma Aid Europe who donated six days of training for the cost of an airfare.

In 2020, another 18 child therapists from Gatehouse (the Centre Against Sexual Assault at Royal Children’s Hospital) received training from Dr Sarah Schubert, an internationally recognised EMDR scholar in treating children with traumatic memories.

Considering that most child therapists who work in agencies will see up to 500 children and their families every year, almost 35,000 children now have access to evidence-based treatment.

The Healing the Hurt program has partnered with the Rotary Action Group for Family Safety to create the Trauma Recovery Network Australia (TRNA)  www.traumarecovery.network. This follows the model of humanitarian work by EMDR therapists internationally who volunteer their time after disasters to provide high level trauma intervention for first responders, and support overwhelmed community services.

Formed after the Victorian Bushfires of 2019/2020, the Trauma Recovery Network has been able to provide EMDR Therapy through telehealth to people affected by the bushfires. As part of the Government Bushfire Recovery Program, EMDR therapy was added to the Medicare list of Focused Psychological Strategies available for funding.

The TRNA has been awarded a grant from the District 9800 and 9780 Bushfire Appeal fund to provide EMDR training to therapists who live and work in the bushfire areas to build capacity for ongoing trauma treatment within the community.

The Altona City Story

By Henry Drury

An upbeat President Maureen Le Scoul in discussion with your correspondent emphatically remarked: “Rotary has had many changes since inception. Do you think a little thing like a 5-month lockdown could ever hold us back? Not on your Nellie!”

This quaint expression meaning ‘not on your life’ originated from ‘not on your Nellie Duff’, Cockney rhyming slang for ‘puff’ meaning ‘breath of life’. So, on 26 March 1987, to the great boon of the increasingly ethnically mixed Altona community, the breath of life (read charter) was given to Altona City Rotary. By the way, in 1844 German settler Robert Wrede somewhat romantically named the unspoilt bay side locality Altona after the main fishing port of Hamburg.

The club, among its diverse projects, lays emphasis on Youth. Its recent annual major fundraiser was the Charity Golf Day, which over the last 11 years has successfully raised $109,000 for Very Special Kids, an organisation caring for kids with life-threatening conditions.

Teachers in the various schools in and around Altona are encouraged and supported with Teacher Awards in such categories as curriculum development, on-line teaching, first-year teachers mentoring and inspirational educators.

Altona City is part of the team that includes other Rotary clubs, Toastmasters and Wyndham City Council, which organises and sponsors Wynspeak. This is a highly competitive public speaking competition open to Year 7–12 students from all schools in the Hobsons Bay locality.

Fundraising has been difficult in these COVID times, but BBQs are re-emerging, with club member Past President Charlie Montebello notching up his 50,000 snags turned. Amazing!

Now for something quite unique… The club’s cycling group has run classes in bicycle safety for the local Vietnamese Association, which has some members who arrived as boat people in the 1980s. Those of us who have survived crossing the road in Hanoi have witnessed a rather different way of doing things.

And as for many clubs, Zoom held the club together through the pandemic, but as President Maureen predicts, “It is a win for us to be ‘hybrid meeting’ in the future.”

International Fellowship of Rotarian Military Veterans

By Helena Wimpole

The International Fellowship of Rotarian Military Veterans was set up in Florida U.S.A. and was officially sanctioned as a Rotary Fellowship in October 2016.

The aim of the Fellowship is to bring together Rotarians from around the world in support of Rotary’s efforts towards Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution. The Fellowship seeks Rotarians who have been in military service to join its ranks, as well as Rotarians who wish to be volunteers to serve as Membership Coordinators in each of the 48 Rotary Zones (including Sections). They in turn will be responsible for identifying one District Membership Coordinator in each of the Rotary 536 districts.

Information about this Fellowship is limited at this stage, but with time the hope is that there will be further worldwide expansion. There are two Facebook pages:



Weekly Tip

Amazing progress was made in providing clean drinking water to 2.6 billion people in developing countries in the 25 years since 1990. Yet globally, still 800 million people lack access to clean water perpetuating poverty, keeping children from school and causing families to struggle to make a living. Can your club join projects in D9800 do to help address this?

Morning Tea with the DG April 2021
Peace Leadership - Online Symposium

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