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Centenary of Rotary in Australia / Commemorative Book Launch and Reception


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good afternoon, everyone – a very warm welcome to Government House from Linda and me for this Centenary of Rotary in Australia commemorative book launch and reception.

It seems everywhere Linda and I turn at the moment, Rotary is there! Two weeks ago in Canberra we presided at the opening ceremony for the Aussie Peace Walk and the week prior we unveiled the 100th Rotary Peace Pole. It’s great to see Rotary’s centenary year celebrations and projects in full swing. We are delighted to be Ambassadors of Rotary and in a position to shine a light on its outstanding contributions to many societies.

Today, we’re here to launch a book to mark the Centenary of Rotary in Australia – ‘Humanity in action: Celebrating 100 years of Rotary Clubs in Australia and island neighbours’. I’ll have more to say about the book shortly.

In my preparations for today’s event I not only browsed through ‘Humanity in action’ but I also revisited my and Linda’s remarks from July last year when we launched the ‘Centenary of Rotary in Australia and New Zealand’ here at Government House.

Linda spoke of how Rotary brings joy and sunshine into people’s lives, and I said that one of the defining qualities of Rotary is that it is not afraid to take on the big projects. That joy and sunshine is clearly evident in the many photographs in ‘Humanity in action’ while Rotary’s intent to ‘think big’ is splashed across the more than 500 pages.

Bob [Aitken AM, Chair, Rotary Institute & Archives Committee] will talk specifically about the book, but can I make the following observations:

The breadth of Rotary’s projects and locations …

The range of fundraising events and activities …

And the consistency of the ethos of service … 

… are all truly astounding.

And when you read the text and when you meet Rotarians, what jumps out is the enjoyment and fulfilment that comes from all who are in Rotary and that they are always looking for the next project.

‘Humanity in action’ is beautifully presented, meticulously researched and incredibly informative – all credit to the Rotary Institute History & Archives Committee. It’s a commemorative book for the ages.

The book also provides a superb coverage of what Rotary ‘is’ and ‘plans to be’ in the future. The inspiring projects and topics – international, regional and local – reflect every avenue of service from caring for communities to lifting vocational ethics and working for world peace.

We talk about Rotary’s big projects – the image on page 355 of the book of a young child in India receiving a Polio immunisation dose from a Rotary volunteer is Rotary International at its brilliant best. What a legacy!

Again, thank you all for being here today and joining in this celebratory reception for the launch of ‘Humanity in action’.

As I said at the launch of the Centenary of Rotary, ‘May Rotary be still going strong in another 100 years. I know it will – because it’s Rotary and its heart will never stop beating.’