Nearly fourteen years ago I was formally proposed for membership of Rotary Melbourne by a neighbour in Canterbury. In the preceding decade I had been in a high-pressure corporate role with a multi-national publisher covering Australia and New Zealand, then living and working between Melbourne and Sydney for a couple of years. My voluntary connections in Melbourne were few, and I was keen to give something back to communities here and beyond. Rotary
provided the solution.
From the outset I found myself enjoying the company of like-minded people who were interested in helping to make the world a better place. The internationality of Rotary is for me one of its many attractions; as is the ability of the many thousands of Clubs to get things done at local, national and global levels to improve the lives of others less fortunate than ourselves.
Rotary Melbourne is not a typical Club – I have visited many in Australia and overseas, and they usually have 30 or 40 members – yet all Clubs operate with a ground-up approach, making Rotary a truly proactive organisation. Rotarians respect its worldwide purpose: serving society through friendship, embracing high ethical standards both professionally and personally, and the advancement of peace and goodwill through humanitarian ‘service above self’. A turning point in
my ‘Rotary journey’ was attending the 2013 District Assembly in Albury which showcased some of the extraordinary projects being undertaken by the 70 or so Clubs in our region. It was a motivating experience.
Volunteering defines Rotarians, and our ‘tap on the shoulder’ is legendary, yet we like to find ways of securing as much of every member’s time, talents and resources as suits them (while also addressing the Club’s needs). For new members, there is an excellent induction and mentoring program which ensures they find their way around the Club quickly, effectively and enjoyably. My many wonderful experiences in Rotary have included supporting a Pacific Island immunisation program, liaising with the City of Melbourne on student projects, helping with the integration of African migrants and collecting leftover market food for Second Bite. There’s nothing more satisfying than hands-on volunteering!
While in this Centenary Year we rightly honour our Club’s past history and traditions, we also recognise the importance of embracing the future without changing our values or purpose. We have done some good work in diversity and inclusion, but we continue to review our rituals, symbols and structures to remain relevant for the upcoming generations. In the current pandemic we have proved we are able to adapt, which of course is essential for sustainability.
Our theme for this year is ‘Rotary Opens Opportunities’. Thanks to the passionate contributions of many members, we are in good shape for ongoing service to communities around Melbourne and far beyond. I hope you will be inspired by my story and engage with me and my colleagues to support our efforts. Rotary is amazing.
Robert W Fisher
Past President Rotary Melbourne (2018-19)