Rotary Serving Humanity


“Serving Humanity is the most worthwhile thing any one of us can do with our lives”. – Paul Harris 

When Rotary International President John F. Germ developed the 2016-2017 theme – Rotary Serving Humanity, he provided us with the opportunity to strengthen our clubs, focus on humanitarian work and showcase what we do in our communities and the wider world to help make them a better place. As John was quoted to say, “the only difference between a small opportunity and a great one is what you do with it”.

This is what you have been doing, creating amazing memories in the process. Your efforts in recruiting, retaining and engaging members, showcasing your projects, supporting The Rotary Foundation in its centennial year, utilising Foundation grants, being innovative, flexible and forward thinking. These things will ensure that Rotary is known and appreciated into the future. If we have vibrant, active clubs that engage people in interesting projects and we actively promote what we do to our local communities, new members will come and existing ones will stay.  

What I do know and have been banging on about all year is that every Rotary project anywhere in the world starts with an idea … and those ideas develop and grow by using the powerful network of Rotary to really make a difference. Think about the following things for a moment:

  • Never have our communities needed us more. What we do is important to them. You might think that what you do is small or doesn’t matter, but they’re not small and everything you do matters, especially to the people you help, because when we work together doing what we can, when we can, with whatever time we have, we really do make a difference.
  • Never has there been a better opportunity to become engaged given the growing recognition of and investment in social cohesion by government, social enterprise organisations, philanthropic foundations and the corporate sector, that we can leverage into partnerships using our vast, powerful networks.
  • Rotary is one of the best vehicles for individuals to make a difference, whether as a member or a partner, so you are in the right place.
  • Rotary is part of the big community conversations on issues like mental health prevention, homelessness, social cohesion, indigenous education and wellbeing, and family violence, just to name a few.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. – Winston S Churchill

Very soon, with fingers and everything else crossed, the world will be polio free. It has been four months since the last reported case of polio and only five reported cases in the last 12 months. Thirty-six months without a case of polio will officially render polio as eradicated. When that time comes Rotary will rightly claim its place as the organization that was primarily instrumental in that achievement. As Bill Gates has said, “without Rotary, this program (eradicate polio) wouldn’t be anywhere”. We need to be ready with strong, vibrant clubs that engage people in interesting projects, because they will come looking to join us, and we need to be ready.

There were so many highlights this year, with some being:

  • Staging of three public showcases of Rotary’s work, in Bendigo, Melbourne and Echuca;
  • The Group Vocational Exchange with District 3820 in the Philippines;
  • Continued growth in membership in the District;
  • Stephanie Woollard’s recognition at Rotary International’s ‘Responsible Business Awards’ presented at the United Nations Headquarters in New York;
  • The District Conference in Shepparton that so many of you attended;
  • The celebration of 100 years of The Rotary Foundation at Docklands, that lifted the veil on the profile of Rotary and helped raise around $5million in endowment pledges and donations to the Foundation.
  • The support of Australian Rotary Health’s ‘Lift the Lid’ on mental illness campaign and the many club donations in lieu of flowers on Rebecca’s behalf, that saw sufficient funds raised to support one researcher.

These achievements are great, but the work carried out by clubs is the most amazing aspect of what a District Governor is privileged to experience. It is what defines our organisation and the reason why people join and stay. I would like to congratulate you all on your achievements this year and a big thank you to all the Club Presidents for the extra work you shouldered in leading your clubs.

I also acknowledge and thank sincerely the wonderful support provided to clubs and me by the District Leadership Team. Comprising the Board members, Assistant Governors, Avenues of Service Chairs and the many Committees and Sub-Committees, they all do so much to help provide clubs with opportunities to help others. No amount of money could buy what they do and I salute you all.

To ‘The Networker’ Editor, Gordon Cheyne, and Public Image and Marketing Chair Adrian Nelson, who are retiring from their respective roles, a huge thankyou. Gordon’s dry humour makes the task of writing worthwhile. He and Adrian have lifted the vibrancy of The Networker. In recent years, they have succeeded in presenting a high quality publication that is excellent in every way. Those who are regular readers will know what I mean and those that aren’t; well they still don’t know what they don’t know.

Rebecca and I will continue our Rotary journey (after a short break in the Kimberly’s), with club duties (Rebecca is now a Rotarian), and for me, district roles such as chairing the Foundation Endowment program and also as part of the Membership Committee assisting the Club Support Team.

We thank you all most sincerely for your friendship and support. If we aggregated all the things that you do that we have seen and heard, we are blown away. It has been an honour to be part of it and I know that you will continue to show the community how Rotary serves humanity and in doing so, demonstrate Rotary: Making a Difference!

With our best wishes, 

Neville & Rebecca

Neville John   

District Governor 2016-2017

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