Rotary Club of Melbourne  HUMANITARIAN SERVICES REPORT  22nd June 2018 - Rob McGuirk

I want to run with the theme of  “Humanitarian Service Projects Past Present & Future”.

This club has built its reputation around support for humanitarian causes and it is sometimes useful to glimpse back in to our past to see what have been the secrets to our success. It was recognized as early as 1922 that the club needed to find projects otherwise it would be “just another luncheon club”.


Initially the clubs focus was on support for neglected children and boys welfare events and programs. This led to a contribution of #14,000 in 1923 to the Boys Scouts for their headquarters. There was an early and ongoing involvement with the Crippled Children’s Society, as Angus Mitchell was its President and it is interesting that engagement with such organizations led to the development of the End Polio project.  There was also significant support for projects relating to mental health and the ageing.

Focusing on local social issues has led us to continue working in more recent times with projects relating to homelessness led by James Pullar.


But one of the most significant projects in our recent history is the “Claremont Home Project”. This was a project to create a day care and rehab facility for aged people in South Melbourne. It was a joint project with Rotary clubs from South Melbourne, Port Melbourne, St Kilda and Prahran together with Government and corporate partners. Over $200,000 was raised to assist with the costs and the facility which was opened in 1976. Ongoing support has continued since then and in more recent times particularly through current members Max Barr and Peter Manger and their work has involved support for the new buildings opened several years ago which include aged care facilities.


The club has also had a major involvement with the East Timor Company in conjunction with several other clubs. The other major long term commitment in recent times has been to support the indigenous community of Donydji in NE Arnhem land. This has been a 15 year project with fundraising and donations in cash and in kind of over $2m which has enabled the building of facilties for the community and support to enable them to remain on their own country in a self sustaining way. This was initially a joint project with Latrobe University and was only possible due to the work of Ass Prof Neville White and his group of Vietnam veterans.


In the audit of club projects and activities, which I conducted this year, it was realized that the majority of our humanitarian work consists of providing financial support for social organizations and assisting with volunteering and networking. There are not many major projects that we manage and run which is not surprising. Accordingly when we do seek to conduct major projects the key to success has been to build long term relationships with other parties, Government and other Rotary clubs. This has required successive Presidents and Boards to maintain the commitment of their predecessors to ensure continuity as major projects take many years of work to create successful outcomes.



  • Collects from Prahran and Victoria markets – each Sunday for over 10 years
  • Goes to Heidelberg warehouse for distribution on Monday mornings
  • 11,000 tons will be collected across Australia this year.
  • Looking for volunteers so contact Jan Moffat for Vic market and Bob for Prahran



  • RCM major involvement for over 15 years
  • RCM on of the 5 Rotary clubs involved in its formation
  • Since 2000 to Feb 2018 540 containers to 30 countries value $53m
  • Much of the items collected would have been landfill
  • Clubs also use facilities for meetings
  • Always looking for help so contact Bob

Share this with your friends