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Centenary of Rotary in Australia - Baton Launch


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Linda and I, as Ambassadors of Rotary, are delighted to be with you for today’s launch of the Centenary of Rotary celebrations in Australia and New Zealand.

One hundred years is a wonderful milestone.

Normally on occasions such as this we’d all be together in the one room. But that cannot happen at the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions. So, some of us are here at Yarralumla. And some of us, thanks to technology, are with us online.

Welcome all.

In preparing for this event I came across two descriptions of a typical Rotarian, given in 1921.

  • A go-getter.
  • And, a practical idealist.

I’ve been thinking carefully about those descriptions in the context of Rotary’s work in the community and how Rotarians go about that work.

Implied in those descriptions are:

  • A positive attitude.
  • A preparedness to think big and to not be afraid of tackling the big projects.
  • An ability to see a project through to the end.

When I look at what Rotary has achieved in its first 100 years and the projects it currently has underway, it’s clear to me the descriptions of a typical Rotarian in 1921 hold true for a Rotarian today.

And that is: someone who dreams big, achieves much and makes an outstanding contribution to society.

Rotarians live and breathe community. They are dependable, they are selfless, and they want to make the world a better place.

This centenary year will be an exciting time for all Rotarians and an ideal opportunity for all clubs to commit to a centenary project.

There is already much to celebrate, with significant achievements in the fields of water security, education, agriculture and health … just to name a few.

But can I especially commend Rotary on two of its centenary goals:

  • To end infectious eye disease trachoma in Australia — we know, for example, there are high rates of trachoma in some Indigenous communities
  • And, second, with the support of UNICEF, to provide life-saving vaccines to 100,000 children across nine Pacific nations.

I look forward to hearing more about the latter project — ‘Give every child a future’ — shortly.

In closing, can I say a few words about Rotary and its work during recent natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

All around the country, Rotary has been on the ground in our communities, supporting Australians in need.

Linda and I have visited many of these communities. We have seen firsthand the positive difference that Rotary makes to people’s lives.

It’s inspiring. You help Australians feel good about themselves.

And, in challenging times, that is really important.

We need to remind ourselves of how good our nation is during times of adversity.

Yes, there is much uncertainty at the moment. The pandemic is not going away soon and our lives will continue to be disrupted on many fronts. Recovery will take time.

But what I do know is there will be many potential projects worthy of consideration by Rotary in a post-COVID-19 world.

It’s so typical of Rotary that, despite the obvious challenges we all face due to the pandemic, it has committed to taking on more projects in its 100th anniversary year.

That’s a sign of a fantastic organisation.

I wish all Rotarians every success in your organisation’s centenary year.