Rotary Strikes for Stroke Survivors – LIFE AFTER STROKE (LAS)


Bob Slater, Kew Rotary, 'Life After Stroke' Coordinator

Each year 12,000 to 15,000 Victorians have a stroke, with a growing number of working age and many still students. Every Victorian will at some time in their life have someone close to them experience a stroke, and it only then that the lasting impact is realised.

Every stroke is different, with differing physical and cognitive effects. For most, institutional clinical rehabilitation lasts only two months, followed by outpatient rehabilitation for up to a further 12 months with lasting effects beyond. Commonly when stroke survivors return home the realisation that life has changed markedly can lead to withdrawal, anxiety and depression. Because progress is slow, carers play a vital role both physically and psychologically.

Rotary has initiated a vocational mentoring program, Life After Stroke, in conjunction with Stroke Association of Victoria (SAV), to assist stroke survivors to return to useful engagement including paid work and involvement in Rotary programs as FORs. LAS is a RI D9800 DEP.

SAV has, over 35 years, formed and encouraged 30(+) volunteer Stroke Support Groups across Victoria that have provided invaluable peer support for stroke survivors and carers to help them regain confidence and avoid social exclusion. However the Stroke Support Groups have not had their own meeting places so there have been no aids to cognitive or physical improvement, and there has been no provision to assist stroke survivors back into the workforce or useful engagement.

With Rotary leadership, and vital funding support from government, corporate, philanthropic trust and community sources, SAV is now establishing Hubs that are permanent meeting places with equipment and paid staff to assist post-clinical stroke rehabilitation. These Hubs will be the centres for Rotary Life After Stroke activity.

In the past two years Hubs have been established in Kew (Boroondara Hub) and Geelong (Barwon Hub), and one is being established at Eaglehawk (Bendigo Hub). There is a need in all parts of Melbourne and Victoria and it is planned to develop more Hubs wherever there is local interest shown in developing them.

Each Hub has developed in its own individual way.

The Bendigo Hub is a model for how future Hubs around Victoria could develop.  Project Manager Bob Slater arranged for the (then) President of Eaglehawk Rotary (Ron Payne), Head of Bendigo Health Rehabilitation (Assoc Prof Marc Budge), Executive Director SAV (James Garland) and members of the Central Victoria Stroke Support Group to meet at the RI D9800 Bendigo Showcase on Australia Day 2016.

David Dolman, Ron Payne RC Eaglehawk, Carly Stephens , PDG Neville John, Bob Slater, James Garland SAV

From that meeting:

  • All agreed that a Hub would be highly beneficial for stroke survivors in Bendigo.
  • Eaglehawk Rotary had space that could be used for the purpose.
  • Kew Rotary/SAV would seed funds to assist the Hub to become established.
  • Bendigo Health would support the project by introducing stroke survivors to the program and provide support for an approach to Greater City of Bendigo Council for their support.

As Marc Budge said: “We clinicians have been concerned for a long time about what happens to stroke survivors once they finish formal rehabilitation. We are extremely happy to support this initiative because we can see the benefit it will bring, particularly in self-esteem and self-confidence.”

Since that time:

  • An MOU has been drawn up and agreed to between Eaglehawk Rotary (Current President Alison Bacon) and SAV.
  • SAV ($7,500 donated to SAV by Kew Rotary) and Central Victoria Stroke Support Group ($2,500) provided seed funding which was matched as a RACG project by RAWCS with funding from Dick Smith.
  • The facility is now being prepared, equipment purchased, and a part-time coordinator will be appointed in early 2018.

The next stage is for:

  • stroke survivors and carers to be contacted by Central Victoria Stroke Support Group with the assistance of Bendigo Health.
  • Social and confidence building support to be provided at the Hub.
  • Rotarians prepared to become Vocational mentors to register with Bob Slater, Kew Rotary, and agree to undertake mentoring training (developed by Justin Wibrow, Melbourne Rotary, and Yarra Bend Rotary).

This is a big venture in its early stages, and assistance is needed from all quarters to ensure success.

Information on how to support the Eaglehawk/Bendigo Hub project financially can be found on the following RAWCS linkages:

Tax deductibility is granted through "Rotary Australia Benevolent Society" – ABN 54 563 288 318.

Future Hubs

Hubs provide focal points for stroke survivors and carers to interact with structured programs and tangible rehabilitation benefits.

Hubs are ideally a partnership between Rotary (at District level), SAV, a local Stroke Support Group, the local municipal council/shire and local MPs, the closest regional health unit, and a local Rotary club that acts as the lead club for surrounding cluster clubs. For more information and assistance in regard to establishing a Hub or support a local Stroke Support Goup , contact Bob Slater on 0418 317 057 or

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