A new era for Rotary in the South East

Rotary District 9815 Governor Colin Byron. Picture: DLX PHOTOGRAPHY

By Matthew Sims

Eighty clubs across the East and South East districts of Melbourne and into the Mornington Peninsula have come together in Pakenham over the weekend to celebrate the merging of two districts into one new district – District 9815.

The merging came off the back of one of the districts falling below the threshold of 1100 members, with District 9810 and 9820 merging into the new district during an official merging and changeover celebration on Saturday 29 June at the Cardinia Cultural Centre.

New District Governor Colin Byron said there were about 300 people in attendance across 54 clubs, including the Rotary clubs of Pakenham and Casey.

“It was a very good night,” he said.

Rotary International has more than 1.4 million members across more than 200 countries, including members across Rotaract clubs for students and young professionals, Interact clubs for young leaders aged 12 to 18 in high schools and Earlyact clubs for primary school students.

Mr Byron said the aim of the new district would be in attracting new members across all age groups and supporting a Rotary-wide transition towards more specific groups.

“Whilst Australia has a significant amount of people willing to volunteer, young people don’t want to come to a dinner every week,” he said.

“We’re now adopting a new model for more cause-based initiatives.

“There’s a lot of new club formats.”

Mr Byron said there were a number of areas which Rotary acts in, including peace, environment and maternal health, with anybody welcome to propose a new club to support people within their community.

“If somebody has a cause, it could be an idea we can develop into a club,” he said.

Mr Byron said Rotary was also excited to continue towards the eradication of polio after becoming a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and reducing global polio cases by 99.9 per cent since its first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979.

“If we eliminate it, it could be only the second disease to be eliminated,” he said.

Mr Byron said the new district was looking forward to how new models could be implemented.

“We’re introducing a change in our operational model,” he said.

“We need to do more impactful projects.

“Rotary is trying to focus on what we can do to make a difference.”

For more information on District 9815, visit rotary9815.org.au