President's Message

Presidential message


Mark Daniel Maloney

President 2019-20

May 2020

Increasing our ability to adapt: That is one goal of our new Rotary Action Plan. And wow, have we seen that ability put to the test this year.

In March, Gay and I were to visit Zimbabwe, Turkey, and eight other countries over the course of 30 days. After participating in a medical mission in Zimbabwe and Commonwealth Week activities in London, on the 11th day, we were packing our suitcases for Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

While attending a dinner at the High Commission for Pakistan in London, we received word that it would be impossible to travel everywhere on our itinerary. So, instead of flying to Zurich, we returned to Evanston and One Rotary Center.

Throughout early March, the news about COVID-19 became increasingly serious throughout the world. Following the advice of local officials, we canceled UN presidential conferences in Paris and Rome. Soon, the World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic, and we consulted with authorities on more critical decisions. We asked all Rotary districts and clubs to curb face-to-face meetings until further notice and to hold virtual meetings instead. To the districts and clubs that have adapted so quickly, thank you.

The Rotary Board of Directors held its first-ever virtual meeting to make the most difficult decision of all, to cancel the 2020 Rotary International Convention. Like the more than 20,000 registrants who planned to attend, I am disappointed. We acted to protect the health and safety of convention attendees and their families, friends, and colleagues, as well as those who call Honolulu home, and I am confident we made the right decision.

I want to thank the 2020 Honolulu Convention Committee, the Host Organization Committee, the 2020 Honolulu Convention Promotion Committee, and Rotary staff for planning what would have been one of the best Rotary conventions yet. I appreciate their hard work.

This issue of The Rotarian was going to press as the decision about canceling the convention was made, and many other decisions across the Rotary world were still up in the air. Future issues of The Rotarian and of Rotary's regional magazines, along with Rotary's social media channels, will keep you informed.

We began this Rotary year promoting the importance of the new Action Plan for all Rotarians and Rotaractors. Today, we are putting that plan into action out of necessity. That includes the possibility of a convention-like experience with you through a virtual event. We will have more to say about this in the near future.

The world is changing rapidly, and so must Rotary. Our adaptability and strength will help us navigate this experience. The world needs our leadership today more than ever. Truly, Rotary Connects the World.

From the Governor
I am sure that no-one who has gone through the experience of COVID-19 will fail to identify this image. Even though the colours used are a construct, the electron micrograph will be instantly recognisable.
I am pleased to note that there has been a positive uptake of ZOOM meetings across the District. The Rotary Club of Coolamon is an example.
Even those clubs not using ZOOM are keeping in touch by phone calls, messaging or other means. It is really important to keep in touch and share what we are doing while restricted to home. I have noticed that the practice of having a beverage of some description at a Rotary meeting has been able to crossover to online meetings as well and there has been some discussion about the type and characteristics of the beverages as well.
While we are not able to do many of our service projects I was impressed by one club providing gourmet pizzas and cakes to local hospital front line staff, so with some imagination we can still contribute to our local communities.
At a Rotary International level the Rotary Foundation has been active in providing grants to affected Districts and communities for COVID related projects. The table shows that over $US13 million has been provided so far.
Grant type
Number of grants 
Total funding
Global grants (new applications)
Global grants (repurposed funds within existing grants)
Disaster response grants
While some of the restrictions on our movement will be slightly eased early this month, it is likely that larger meetings will be taboo for some time to come.
As we move towards the end of this Rotary year and changeover time, questions have been raised about what can be done for changeovers when we cannot meet in person. An informative article by Stephen Sennett, a Rotarian from Melbourne and digital guru, on having virtual changeovers gives some good guidelines and suggestions on how to conduct a virtual changeover. A link to the article is here. It is well worth a read.
On a completely different topic, for those who are missing their injection of culture, the Sydney Opera House site  has a wealth of entertainment available for FREE! Their “Digital Season” of performances, podcasts and interviews is outstanding, with live performances streamed each week, or you can watch them at your leisure later. And, the ABC's I-view is showing videos of a range of performances of plays, operas and orchestras here.
As DG I have an advantage through club bulletins of getting all the good ideas of what clubs are doing and all the jokes circulating as well. How about we start to collect and share those ideas. If you send me a list of the ideas your club has been coming up with I can collate them and put them up on the District website for all to see and use. Let's see what we can come up with.
In the meantime keep safe and keep adapting.
Never waste a good crisis

“Never waste a good crisis” -Winston Churchill

 RI President, Mark Maloney, used this phrase attributed to Winston Churchill as he addressed the Zone 8 Rotary Senior Leaders in separate Zoom meetings. It speaks well of how Rotary has been quickly adapting and making the most out of the situation we are facing at the moment with the COVID19 pandemic. Both President Mark and General Secretary John Hewko gave assurances that the organisation is financially and operationally sound and that Rotary is successfully going into this new frontier of going virtual. The culture that is emerging may actually present opportunities to make Rotary more attractive to a new demographic. The Presidential themes of Rotary Connects the World and Rotary Opens Opportunities back to back are very apropos and have taken more profound meanings in light of the times.

John Hewko particularly gave us a 4-point Call to Action:


  • Concerning possible membership decline amid the crisis, we need to focus on engaging members who have been in Rotary for less than 2-3 years. Statistics show there is a higher probability of losing these members so this focus will be vital in retaining them.
  • Clubs and districts need to identify clubs that have not caught on to meeting virtually and help them along to remain active.
  • Find ways to replace the in-person cultivation of donors and to think of creative ways to allow virtual fundraising.
  • As with fundraising, we need to also come up with creative ways to conduct service projects taking into consideration all the social distancing measures in place locally.

 Having the President and General Secretary in our Zoom meeting was a great opportunity to hear first-hand how the organisation is responding to the changing times. 

Guest Speakers via video
Now that many clubs are holding digital meetings the opportunity to access guest speakers from around the world is at our fingertips (or mouse clicks anyway).
Some examples are (and there are plenty more out there):
Sarah Brown from Purple House - a presentation to District 9870 online conference - click here.
TED talks - on pretty much anything - click here
Rebecca Fry - RI Social Media Manager presentation to District 9570 - click here
Try ZOOM bingo
Maintaining contact and interest

While we continue to practice social distancing to ensure the health and well-being of our families and communities, it’s important that we can stay engaged in Rotary during this extraordinary time. Here are some highlights of how clubs and districts are keeping members engaged and providing service:

·      Members from Rotary Club of Central Melbourne decided to go camping for Easter, as ‘normal’, with one variation – they put the tents up in their backyards! Social drinks were held in backyards and out by the BBQ. Everyone had a wine and a few nibbles and partners joined in as well.

·      D9820 organised a webinar with Australian Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, also a Rotarian, talking about caring for our communities at this time. It was attended by over 500 Rotarians and non-Rotarians. Watch the recording here.

·      Rotary Club of Kurri Kurri from D9670, in conjunction with the Kurri Kurri Community Centre, have been cooking up a storm and providing meals, free of charge to the elderly and vulnerable within their community. So far they have cooked and delivered over 1200 meals!

·      Instead of cancelling the Knox Art Show, a collaboration between the Rotary Clubs of Rowville-Lysterfield and Bayswater, the combined boards agreed to hold a virtual art show instead. Sponsors supported this new format and artists were very pleased with the outcome. More than 5000 people have visited the virtual art show website so far - that’s five times as many visitors compared to last few years at the art gallery. Check out the show here.

·      Rotary Satellite Club of Orewa-Millwater in D9910, New Zealand set up the Gulf Harbour Army Bay support group, made up of approximately fifty local community members, volunteering to pick up shopping for the aged and vulnerable in the area. One recipient thanked the group saying ‘that because of Rotary we are safe’. They also received a $2000 donation from another recipient

·      In this Q&A, Membership Committee Chair and RI Director 2021-2022 - 2022-2023 Jessie Harman discusses how she sees COVID-19 effecting the Rotary landscape and urges us to lead with compassion, care and urgency.


The Rotary Learning Centre has a wide range of resources for online activity.

News from Australian Rotary Health

Australian Rotary Health Podcast – The Research Behind Lift the Lid

Australian Rotary Health (ARH) has started a very exciting new project - our first podcast called 'The Research Behind Lift the Lid', hosted by ARH Promotions & Mental Health Research Manager Jessica Cooper.

In our first episode, we did a zoom interview with ARH Postdoctoral Fellowship/Mental Health Research Grant recipient Dr Louise Mewton from the University of New South Wales.

Louise talked about her research findings for her project: Preventing adolescent mental illness through brain training.

You can listen to our podcast series here:

Our first episode is also on YouTube at this link:

Donate to our COVID-19 appeal to support more important research like Dr Mewton’s here:

Australian Rotary Health COVID-19 Appeal

It has become clear during the COVID-19 pandemic that looking after our health – particularly our mental health – is more important than ever.

With social distancing rules in place, many of our supporters across Australia who would normally raise thousands of dollars towards mental health research, have been forced to postpone and cancel their fundraising events.

We can see that this virus is affecting our mental health tremendously. Therefore, continuing to support mental health research to learn how to best support our communities when unexpected events like these occur, is crucial.

We ask that you please consider donating to mental health research today to help Australian Rotary Health #Liftthelidonmentalillness in these uncertain times and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

We have set a target to raise $200,000. Any dollars towards this will be greatly appreciated.

Please share this link with your family, friends and social networks.

Thank you for your support!


Donate here:

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