Last Week's Meeting 9 August 2023

At the Rotary Melbourne meeting on Wednesday 9 August 23 the focus was comprehensively on the achievements of our Club’s 2nd President, Sir John Monash.  The centre piece was the presentation of the 2023 Monash Medal Award  to Mr Richard L. Elkington OAM, for leadership integrity and service in his outstanding contribution through his promoting the Gippsland and Latrobe Valley region, and leadership in multiple community organisations. 
Indeed, Richard demonstrated leadership in almost every organisation in which he has been involved, notably in the Freemasons where he has served as Grand Master.  This was underscored by the attendance in support of Richard by several leading Freemasons.
We were reminded from the lectern of the values and service of General Sir John Monash from separate perspectives by several members.  Following opening the meeting by MC Peter Davis, the first of these reminders was delivery by Stephen Lake in his reflection, which he themed around Monash’s WWI “game changing” service, (Stephen’s reflection is included later in this bulletin); introductory comments by meeting Chair, Peter Rogers, and of course by Richard in his response.  Richard’s entertaining addressed spoke of the massive contribution to the State Electricity Commission, which was first led by Sir John Monash. In doing so he spoke of the impact of change from privatisation and opportunities foregone as the use of brown coal has become unfashionable.

President Chris invited Garry Fowler to the podium to present a Rotary ESRAG Oceania Award. President Chris noted that we have a number of Rotarians committed to the newest area of focus for Rotary, The Environment.  Peter Berg and Garry Fowler chair the Club’s Environment Sustainability Committee. At the recent RI Environmental Sustainability RAG [ESRAG] Annual General Meeting Garry Fowler was awarded the joint ESRAG Environment Volunteer of the Year Award 2023 Regional Chapters for outstanding contribution to ESRAG. Garry told members that the award was for his work in developing the Carbon Calculator for Rotary Clubs.

The address can be viewed by clicking with the Speaker Series Link: or the recording of the full meeting by following this link:  
President Chris led the meeting in quiet reflection on the life and contribution of beloved Rotary Melbourne Honorary Member, Tony Kosky, who passed away after a long illness.   The tribute provided by President Chris can be read later in this Bulletin.  Vale Tony and condolences to his wife Vicky and his family.


John Monash was one of our club’s founding members at the commencement of our club in 1921 and subsequently became Second president of this club for the year 1922/23.

On this day 100 years ago, Sir John had just stepped down as President, and was asked to say a few words at our club meeting (on 8th August 1923). The minutes of our meeting one hundred years ago contain SJM’s brief one paragraph account of the battle which greatly assisted end of the war in less than 100 days from 8 August.

The Club also had an official guest on that occasion - similar in many ways to our Club guest today Richard Elkington OAM.

The guest on that occasion 100 years ago was Dr David Rivett a leading University of Melbourne scientist, a Rhodes scholar, who - like Sir John Monash - was out of Australia during WW1. He was working in UK on the production of ammonium nitrate – a mining explosive still used today. He married Stella Deakin, daughter of our second Prime Minister who he had met at university. He later became  Sir David Rivett KCMG, was elected FRS, and became Chairman of CSIRO.

There are other accounts of the Battle of Amiens (see his “War Letters of General Monash, p254).

However Sir John’s account in the minutes of our meeting held upstairs at Melbourne Town Hall 100 years ago is recorded as follows in the minutes of our Club:

“Sir John gave a most interesting address on the battle of Amiens and spoke of the new tank that was used in this battle for the first time, and also of the new type of attack by the infantry. He described how at 20 minutes past four in the morning the Canadian and Australian troops flanked by the French, on that day pushed forward and before nightfall broke through a frontage of the German lines 12 miles long and stood 5or 6 miles inside the German lines. 10,000 prisoners were taken by the Australians on that day and the biggest mobile gun captured during the war was captured by the Australians on that day…”

Sir John’s contribution to Victoria, Australia and the world community is legendary. His counsel to all and especially to students was

“Adopt as your fundamental creed that you equip yourself for life not solely for your own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole community”.

He is a great Australian by any measure.

Our club has since 2010, awarded the Monash Medal to an outstanding Australian for the contribution of that person, to the Australian community and beyond. The criteria for the awarding of the medal are leadership, integrity and service – key Monash values and core values of Rotary.


Richard Elkington OAM has a high profile of leadership in the La Trobe Valley, in the same industry – electricity generation - as Sir John Monash. He has been Grand Master of Freemasons Victoria.

Born in Yallourn and raised in Newborough, Mr Elkington was an executive general manager at Loy Yang Power , following on from various management and Senior Executive and engineering roles within the Latrobe Valley Energy Industry . He chaired Gippsland Water from 2000-2007, and was a former director of East Gippsland Water. He was an executive councillor and is a Life Member of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its regional president.

Some of Mr Elkington’s other community involvements have included work with the Latrobe Valley Authority, the Regional Policy Advisory Committee, Coal Resources Victoria, and the Regional Transport Advisory Group. He had senior memberships of Gippsland Ports, Gippsland Farm Plantations, the Latrobe Valley Task Force and the Gippsland Tertiary Education Council. Other community activities have involved Gippsland community radio, Mid Gippsland Football League, the Baw Baw District Scout Association, and the Latrobe Light Opera Society.

The long-time Traralgon resident has been Grand Master of Freemasons Victoria, a men’s fraternity with 7000 members across the state, with an emphasis of self-improvement and charity to others. In 2000 to2022 his role as Grand Master saw him involved seven days a week with leadership duties across Victoria. Mr Elkington prizes strategic and conceptual thinking and seeks to include as many people as possible in decision making, whether it be with professional, community or fraternal organisations. Mr Elkington and his wife Kathleen married in 1973 when he was a cadet engineer with the State Electricity Commission. Kathleen, a nurse, went on to become director of nursing at Brookfield Park Nursing Home in Traralgon.

The Gippsland times of 14/6/2022 announced his award of OAM as follows:

Gippsland community worker Richard Elkington has been honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Mr Elkington has been cited “for service to the community through a range of roles”. Mr Elkington was recognised for a range of community activity, particularly in the promotion of the Latrobe Valley, as a former chair of Regional Development Gippsland, and as a former board member of Gippsland Development Limited.

Dr Peter Rogers AM
Past President, Rotary Melbourne


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