What a memorable Golden Bendigo Conference


The Conference Themes of Our Youth Our Future, Golden Rotary Moments, Joined up Partnerships and Innovative Leadership set the direction for some memorable speakers and in turn some thought provoking messages.

The presentation from the Vocational Training Team that did some amazing work in Cambodia, the Group Vocational Exchange Team from the Philippines and the Youth Exchange students certainly showed the internationality of Rotary at its best and those in attendance will never forget “Pray for Paris”. Renowned speaker Phil Ruthven reminded us that organisations like Rotary will thrive in the future if changes are made to accommodate the needs of the next generation and we are fortunate that we have articulate young Rotarians who can show us the way forward.

Engaging speakers, Saroo Brierly, Jeremy Scott and Michael Smith impressed us with their resilience, persistence and sense of hope in the face of adversity. Do keep an eye out for the movie Lion, that will be released later this year and that tells the story of Saroo’s life as a lost young boy in India, who after a happy life in Tasmania returns to India to find his birth mother. Margot Spalding kept us smiling as she described her life as a business woman in her home town, Bendigo, and her commitment to family values. Two amazing young people Georgia Retallik and Luke Owen showed us all that can happen when compassionate young people are confronted with community issues such as homeless youth and inappropriate placement of young people in aged care facilities. In both instances sheer determination has created a better outcome for the future.

A memorable session for all was the segment on Family Violence where we explored the solutions to the problem. It was interesting listening to Mary Claire Landry telling us about the work done in New Orleans, and edifying to know that the marvellous work done through the Violence Free Family program is having the desired effect. Kathleen McGuire and the No Excuses Choir, a group of women who once experienced family violence, completed the segment with a very moving performance that ensured a standing ovation…..their first ever!

When you add a Rotary Rich Market place, lots of entertainment, food, new friendships and fun it was a wonderful two days in Bendigo! Now if you were not one of the 920 who attended, soon we will be able to provide you with a copy of all the conference sessions that were recorded for future reference, and let’s see you in Shepparton in 2017.

The next big Challenge for Rotary

Now that we are reliably informed that the End Polio Now Campaign is likely to have achieved the goal of eradication, it is time to think about what comes next. To commemorate the District Conference in Bendigo, a survey was developed and sent out to all conference delegates. The survey had questions related to the Rotary Foundation Areas of Focus. Whilst the responses were varied the top four items that attracted support were adult literacy programs, toilets for school children, control of mosquito borne diseases and the top priority was the provision of clean water to all. The results of the survey will be sent to the Rotary International Board for consideration and at the very least show that we are a forward thinking District.

Impressive Club projects

At the start of her Presidential year in June 2015, President Sue Jones from Brighton North Rotary announced the establishment of a program to promote awareness of family violence within amateur football and cricket clubs. The pilot program commenced in 2015 with Luke Ablett, former Sydney Swans player, presenting information to two clubs, the Ormond Amateur Football Club and the Melbourne Cricket Club. Luke has a passion for prevention of family violence and currently does presentations at conferences and conducts workshops for many organisations both in Australia and overseas.  The funds needed to conduct this program are provided by a fabulous initiative called the Fed-Up Club and are raised by the annual Fed-Up Lunch. This initiative was started by an amazing group of young men who met at school and have maintained a friendship and decided to do something about Family Violence.

This year I was delighted to be able to attend the Fed-Up Lunch and with all the fun activities arranged on the 20th of February at Flemington Races, an amount of $60,000 was raised to fund this excellent program. Sue’s son Michael is one of the Fabulous Five who started the Fed-Up Club. Someone sign them up to Rotary please!!

Now if you have a story about young people making a difference in our District and beyond send us their stories to share.

Enjoy Rotary as you are……. a Gift to the World.

Ubuntu: I am, because you are.

Julie Mason

District Governor

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