Who we are

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What makes us different?

While we are proud to be the Number One Rotary Club in Australia (established in April 1921, we were the first and we are still the largest)  we are prouder still of our networks and partnerships that enable us to do so much to help build a better world.

Through them and with them we can leverage our own resources of people, expertise, time and money to achieve so much more together than we or they can achieve on our own.

For our members, this means we can usually cater for their passions, whatever they are, to help build the better world locally, State-wide, nationally, internationally and globally.  And we do this every day.

How do we work?     

We meet for lunch weekly, on Wednesdays (members aren't expected to attend every week), and we hold an alternative evening meeting on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

We also meet in:

  • committees
  • project teams 
  • social groups based on localities  
  • special interest groups such as footy team fans or other interests (e.g. golf, photography) 
  • volunteering activities such as Second Bite (collecting surplus food from market stallholders for distribution to charities), DIK store (e.g. loading containers with goods for East Timor and other developing countries) and event marshalling (e.g. Around the Bay)

Download our People of Action Brochure 

It's all about Service, Friendship and Enjoyment

How did we get here? 

The 38 founding ('charter') members of this Club were all leaders in their vocations and leading citizens of the city at that time. Over the years, the Club and its members have been instrumental in many landmark initiatives, such as:

  • re-establishing the Scouting Movement after their loss of leaders in WWI
  • formulating apprenticeship legislation (1927) and later establishing the Apprenticeship Commission in Victoria (1935-36), which became the model for the rest of Australia
  • establishing the State Government's Mental Health Commission to separate the mentally ill from the intellectually handicapped (c. 1947-48)
  • sponsoring, with Wesley Mission,the establishment of Lifeline (1963)
  • rebuilding the Claremont Homes for the Elderly (1976)
  • helping the Salvation Army develop its Crossroads program (1984)
  • joining with the Baker Medical Research Institute to establish the Heart Risk Reduction Clinic (1987)
  • helping launch Very Special Kids (1985) and Australians Against Child Abuse (1992)
  • building an embassy in Canberra for the new nation of Timor Leste (2003)
  • providing means for the Donydji Homeland Community in Arnhem Land to grow towards sustainability (2003-14)
  • immunising 100,000 children and adolescent girls across 9 South Pacific nations in our Rotary Give Every Child a Future Centenary Project, a joint project between UNICEF and the Rotary Clubs of Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland and Wellington - the first four Rotary Clubs chartered in Australasia in 1921 (2019-24)

We have also chartered or grandfathered perhaps half of the 1,100 other Rotary Clubs in Australia (the Rotary Club of Sydney chartered or grandfathered Clubs in the northern half of the country).

One of our members, Sir Angus Mitchell, was the first Australian to become President of Rotary International, in 1948. He was instrumental in bringing Japan back into the Rotary International fold.

Today we are a diverse multi-generational group of (mostly) professional people, some retired, others fully or partly active in the professions.  Our membership includes architects and engineers, lawyers and accountants, academics and senior public servants, heads of social service agencies, stockbrokers, energy and mining company executives and bankers, family business owners and self-employed consultants, professional directors and board/ executive placement experts, HR professionals, medical specialists, veterinarians, scientists, professional association leaders, and many others.

We also attract members from corporations such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Monash University, GHD Engineering, RedR and Scalzo Foods who help turbo-charge our humanitarian service projects with their expertise and other resources.

How do we use our funds?

The operating expenses of our Club are financed through our members' subscriptions and from investment earnings on funds accumulated in earlier years (mainly from hosting the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne in 1993).

We finance our distributions for charitable and community projects from:

  • members' and other benefactors' donations
  • investment earnings from our Rotary Club of Melbourne Community Foundation and its Extension Fund (bequests)
  • grants from the Rotary Foundation (Rotary International) and from our Rotary District 9800
  • grants from other philanthropic trusts
  • fundraising activities
  • partnerships with other funding bodies

What do we support?

Internationally, we focus mainly on the Asia Pacific region, especially Timor Leste, Vanuatu and the Philippines, supporting Rotary International targets such as:

  • providing clean water
  • saving mothers and children
  • supporting education
  • fighting disease
  • growing local economies
  • promoting peace

Within Australia, our priorities are:

  • housing homeless people and preventing homelessness
  • supporting refugees
  • helping indigenous communities move towards sustainability
  • caring for disadvantaged young people
  • preventing domestic violence and supporting its victims

The Rotary Club of Melbourne is also engaged in;

  • Awards for excellence to encourage young people in trainee ships and community service
  • awarding seniors and others for outstanding contributions to their communities
  • promoting awareness of health issues - e.g. heart disease, arthritis, skin cancer, hearing loss
  • mentoring - e.g. Victoria Police Senior Sergeants

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