Royce Abbey joined the Rotary Club of Essendon, District 9800, Victoria, Australia in 1954.
After roles as Club President 1963/64, District Governor 1969/70, Board Member of Rotary International 1976/77, Vice-President 1977/78, he was nominated and served as President of Rotary International in the year 1988/89. He was the third Australian to attain that position following Sir Angus Mitchell and Sir Clem Renouf. He also became an Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Melbourne.
The motto for the 1988/89 Rotary Year was, “Put Life Into Rotary - Your Life’.
"If all our aspirations toward goodwill, peace, and world understanding mean anything, then each one of us, as a Rotarian, has a responsibility to act. The potential is there: the needed skill is to tap that resource for the benefit of mankind. Your commitment will be important to set the example.
If we plan now to do the possible, it will mean one step towards the "impossible tomorrow," and that, in my mind, is to encourage every one of you to be bold and committed enough to set new standards herever you may live and work. PUT LIFE INTO ROTARY-YOUR LIFE.
Together we will make a difference."
Royce subsequently served for six years as a Trustee of The Rotary Foundation including one year as Chair of the Board of Trustees.