My Rotary Story - Austen Burleigh

During 1976 I was thinking about “life after work” and searching for how I could be involved in giving back to the community. Rotary was one of a number of organisations I was considering to be a good fit with my values, principles and outlook on life.


Apart from being an organisation established by bringing together Professional and Business people, the question in my mind was what set “Rotary” apart from other service organisations, and how could I use my accumulated business, professional, community and life’s experiences to best effect?


Ultimately, I found the Four-Way Test as a moral compass, and the five Values, resonated with my principles and behavioural approach to life; hence my Rotary journey began when I was invited to join the Rotary Club of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory in October 1997.


My first major involvement was to co-organise a Rotary-sponsored Open Day for the public to visit Embassies of Overseas countries. This consisted of the associated protocols and preparation in contacting Embassies seeking their agreement to be involved, promotion, security and staffing and of course, the aftermath. I was “hooked”.


After a company transfer to Melbourne, other work colleagues who were existing members invited me in October 1999 to join the first chartered and largest Rotary Club in Australia, The Rotary Club of Melbourne. In the early years work pressures and a young family restricted involvement to the Community Welfare Committee projects/activities, The Rotary Foundation and Group functions.


Involvement ramped up considerably in retirement when I was able to utilise the experience and skills developed during my working life, commencing with three years as Minute Secretary to the Board which provided significant knowledge and understanding on the activities, operation and fundraising of the Club. This provided strong grounding for progressing to senior Board positions to Club President, followed by District 9800 committee involvement and two years as an Assistant District Governor.


These leadership positions extended the opportunities to contribute to the provision of activities, projects and programs to assist the less fortunate members of our local and international communities which, after all, was the reason I joined Rotary.

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