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The Rotary Club of Fortitude Valley

Helping to make a difference in our community

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Welcome to the Rotary Club of Fortitude Valley

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President Dianne Whelan invites visiting Rotarians or anyone interested in sampling Rotary to join us. The table below list our next meeting location and time.
If you require more information or directions, click on the link below.

Next Meeting Location
Date :2019-10-17
Type :Morning
Venue :Whistle Dixie Cafe and Bar
Address :900 Ann St
Suburb :Fortitude Valley
Start time6.45am for 7.00am
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End Hygiene Poverty

This week we were visited by members of the Rotary Club of Noosa Heads, speaking about their RAWCS project 110 – 2017-2018 – involving distribution of the SpaTap to provide access to running water. Running water facilitates hand washing, food washing, first aid and hygiene in education, home and hospital environments, thereby minimising disease. The flow on effects can include improved education and employment outcomes due to minimised lost time.

Everything is Better with Bacon!


Last week, President Andrew reported on the successes of the Motorfest barbeque. There were discussions on improvements for next time, but overall it was agreed that it was good to work together, lift the profile of the club and raise over $6,500. 1,040 burgers, 1,000 sausages. Thank you to members and family who chipped in to make it all work, and thanks to those who purchased leftover bacon and juice. It was good to hear that even the excess bread was given a good home in the form of school breakfasts.

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Presidents 2019-20 changeover speech

Thank you for being here tonight. I am honoured by your presence, I acknowledge that we meet tonight on the ancient lands of the Turrbal and Jagera People, the Traditional Owners of the land, and I pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. Speaking of elders past, present and emerging, I am delighted that in our midst tonight are men who have served this club over many years with passion and distinction. There is also a group of wise and experienced Rotarians who will help steer the club in the coming year and representatives of a new generation of emerging leaders who are our hope for the future.

I should tell you that I am standing here tonight as your 81st President because of an alignment of certain stars and experiences

The First: In 2018 then District Governor Wendy Protheroe asked me to convene the Planning Committee for the 2019 District 9600 Annual Conference. In preparing for the Conference, I read the words of the Flamingo Man, Rotary International President Barry Rassin from the Bahamas, Barry’s words reinvigorated me and clarified why I was a Rotarian. In his Presidential letter to the 2019 District Conference delegates Barry Rassin wrote: One year ago, your Rotary International Board adopted a new vision statement, reflecting our aspirations for our organization and its future. It reads, “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”That simple sentence distils so much of what is essential about Rotary. We unite, because we know that we are far stronger together than we could ever be alone. We take action, because we are not dreamers, but doers. We work to create lasting change that will endure long after our involvement has ended – across the globe and in our communities. And perhaps most important of all, we work to create change in ourselves – not just building a better world around us but becoming better people ourselves. Barry went on to say: Each of us came to Rotary because we had a longing – to have an impact, to make a difference, to be part of something larger than ourselves. That desire, that vision for a betterworld and our role in building it, is what drives us in Rotary. It’s what made us become members and it’s what motivates us to serve. I want to see Rotary be the inspiration for our communities by doing work with a transformational impact. It’s time to start moving forward, by removing the barriers that are holding us back. Let’s make it easier to make adjustments in our clubs or start new clubs that suit different needs. Let’s work to strengthen Rotaract and smooth the transition from Rotaract clubs into Rotary. Let’s give all Rotarians the flexibility to serve in the ways that work best for them, so that every Rotarian finds enduring value in Rotary membership. In the coming year I want us all to find some inspiration in the work of the Rotary Club of Fortitude Valley. I want us all to come to know the strength in working together, I want us all to work sustainably to create lasting change, and I want us all to create change in ourselves by working collaboratively, with respect for each other and for the skills and experience we bring to this collective enterprise.

The second: reason for being here relates to the experience of planning and delivering the District Conference. I came to a clever understanding that I was going to be able to deliver the Annual District Conference Wendy wanted only if I had the support of my club. So, I stacked the Planning Committee with Michael, Geoff and Paul and then called in all the favours I could. Ken applied his extraordinary talents to our audio/visual presentations; David got the band back together for a stunning night of Rock and Roll; Linda brought her social media and stage managing skills to the fore; Ian and his son Brian became our pro bono printers; Dave starred in a Paul-developed session on the Rotary/Rotaract bridge which was a conference program highlight; Andrew presented a session on club renewal and with Will and Geoff’s support, sold Rotary badges, caps and windcheaters to conference delegates. And Lance did what Lance does – brought us to tears with a beautifully crafted sermon as we remembered Rotarians who had passed and the victims of the Christchurch mass shooting. I have previously thanked club members for their contribution to our success and making me look good. I do so again tonight.

I also sincerely thank DG Wendy for the opportunity and her faith in me. As well as being staunch Rotary colleagues who will combine to feed the masses at the Murgon Music Muster later in the year, we have also become good mates who enjoy a coffee together and swap stories about our amazing grandchildren. I also wish incoming DG Darryl and Laura every success for the year ahead. But the most important reason I am here tonight is because I believed in the direction Andrew Lyon took the club in the past year. Working with a small and overworked board, he presented a vision for a 21st century club. You may know that Paul and I have recently returned from travelling in Sicily, among other things, the home of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s best seller “The Leopard”.

The most often quoted line from that book is “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” If we have learned anything, we know that nothing remains the same. Change is our constant companion. We either embrace it or it overwhelms us. The demographics of our circumstances display an inevitability and the trendline is apparent to all except those who will not see. The trick involves babies and bathwater and a capacity to retain the fundamental core values and essence of what has kept this club going for 80 years while letting go of those elements which no longer serve a purpose or are inconsistent with a modern, vibrant, inclusive, service-oriented voluntary association of likeminded men and women inspired by the motto of service above self. It is not surprising that not everybody jumped on the Andrew Lyon train back to the Valley. Some found the new venues difficult to stomach. But this has happened before in our club.

Dr FF (Pinkie) Pincus, the Club Service Director in 1950 (and President in the following year) is quoted in the Club History as saying “the main event of the year from a club service angle has been the change in the Club’s meeting place… At Victoria Park we are the tenants of the Brisbane City Council ...our new meeting place is very satisfactory, but the catering has raised some comments. It is the opinion of my committee firstly that the meal at present provided is superior to that given at most Australian Rotary Clubs and secondly that it is as good value as can be expected in these days for 4 shillings and sixpence which we consider is all that the majority of our members is willing to pay.”

Some 70 years later, the Club Service Directors are still discussing the members reactions to the catering and what they are willing to pay. But 4/6 will just get you a bread roll. Andrew got us into our club polos and out in the sun, apart from getting us out and about with tongs and sauce bottles in our hands at the RACQ motor show and at Bunnings, Andrew (with the remarkable Margie and the incredible Sophie and Grace) led us to the Roller Derby in the Valley where the event was MC’d by a charming drag queen and was won by a car prepared and raced by a group of young police officers! Andrew also devised and led breakfast club sessions which attracted club stalwarts and potential new members. By any estimate the breakfast meetings have been a success. Among other things, the new members Jaimie, Lance and Kaori were a direct result of what they saw and heard at the Whistle Dixie.

That process also delivered another new member. After years of being a Family member and Santa Claus, my partner in crime, Paul X, was finally inducted as a full member this year at a breakfast meeting. Permit me to divert for a moment to speak about “Club Culture” If we have learned anything from the phenomenon of the disappearing candidates at the last federal election it is that mainstream organisations in our contemporary society are no longer willing or able to stand by members who in either word or deed present themselves as overtly racist, misogynist or ‘hands-on’ frequenters of US strip clubs.

The statement made in 2013 by General David Morrison AO, the former Chief of Army, has become part of the new discourse: “If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” The Rotary Club of Fortitude Valley is not the Australian Army and I am not an incoming Army General. But we are a social organisation of men and women of high standing locally, nationally and internationally and the way we treat each other should reflect that high standing. This is not just about how we are viewed by the wider community. It is also about how we apply the 4-way test and the values of Rotary International at our meetings and when we connect and communicate with the wider community.

Just as I paid respect to elders at the beginning of this speech, it is my intention to treat each and every member of this club with respect. And it is my intention that we will treat each other warmly, with good humour and with respect. I must tell you that from time to time I have sat in our meetings and felt really uncomfortable at what passes for banter, jokes and ‘good fellowship’. I felt particularly uncomfortable when I was sitting next to a young woman who was at the club ‘trying us on for size’ to see if she and the RCFV would be a good fit. Frankly she was not there to check out the catering. She was there to get a handle on our ‘culture’ and (to quote the Australian classic, The Castle,) the “vibe of it”.

I need to tell you that “the vibe” was not always all that flash. The fun was not always all that funny; the joshing was not always all that good humoured and the ‘fellowship” seemed pretty “fellow” oriented. And before ‘the old blokes’ tell me that these are the traditions of the club and meetings have always been so, let me tell you about some of the traditions of this club. In the formative years of this august and well-established club whose 80th birthday we will celebrate this year, music and singing at meetings was all the go. The history of the club records that community singing featured largely at the Club’s Presentation of Charter Dinner in December 1939, the club meetings concluded with the singing of “the parting song”.

One of the foundation members, Charles Theaker was Club Musical Director and his son, Wal Theaker was the Club’s Honorary Pianist for over 20 years until he was invited to join Rotary in 1960 in his own right, members were not permitted to sit out the singing on the excuse that they were tone deaf or ‘couldn’t sing’. As a student of piano and former choral director I would have loved to be at the Annual Dinner joining my fellow members in song. But of course, I could not have been a member in those days, things have changed. To the best of my understanding of the history of the RCFV, I am the 4th female President and I’m proud to be so. If we are to survive and prosper for another 80 years we have to change. That doesn’t mean we have to lose contact with our past and reject our traditions, but it does mean we have to honour our past while setting a course to the future. Did you notice the sailing analogy? The RCFV will always hold the sailing tradition close to its heart and I will never forget the generosity of Fergie handing over his boat to the “ladies” for the 2015 Bird Watching.

If I may divert again, may I acknowledge the men of this club who in my early days spoke to me and listened to what I had to say; invited me to sit with them, both at dinner and on the Board; asked me to plan the 75th anniversary event and backed my judgement when I invited a burlesque dancer to perform! Back to the sailing analogy. We have already trimmed our sails, adjusted our course and embarked on a new journey under the leadership of President Andrew and his 2018/19 team. We sailed back into the Valley after a long time away from our roots at McWhirter’s Café on the corner of Brunswick and Wickham Streets where the club had met for the first ten years of its existence. Remarkably, for the bulk of its first 80 years the Rotary Club of Fortitude Valley had convened away from Fortitude Valley at a range of sporting venues.

President Andrew brought us back to the Valley and led a change in our meeting arrangements – a morning breakfast club meeting at the Whistle Dixie Café (just around the corner from McWhirter’s Café) followed the next week by an evening dinner club meeting at the Osborne Hotel, the second hotel to open in the Valley in 1864 and called a various times The Dead Rat and The Rat and Parrot! After many years of holding the Change-Over Dinner outside Fortitude Valley, I am delighted to be here at Cloudland in the heart of Fortitude Valley tonight, it is here that we will celebrate our 80th birthday later in the year and here we will gather for our Christmas Party. Your new Board, which I will introduce in a few minutes, has already begun planning for the year ahead. I have set us some “aspirational” targets and goals, we have plans for local projects focussed on the needs of the people of Fortitude Valley.

We have plans for projects with a broader scope, addressing the needs of our fellow Australians who struggle due to isolation, poverty, ill health and domestic violence. We have plans for international projects, reaching out across the water to Rotary Clubs in our District whose people face challenges which we in an affluent first world country can hardly imagine. All of this will take time, intellect, cooperation and cash, but the Rotary Club of Fortitude Valley in is 80th year can “unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

I invite you to join me on the journey, I can promise that it will be fun and life changing for us all.

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We are almost there! Rotary has eradicated 99% of Polio in the world
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