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Rotary Peace Forum & Multi-District Conference

Rotary Peace Forum

Seven members of the Rotary Club of Hampton were privileged to attend the second Peace Conference held in Australia.  Rotary has long been active in promoting international peace and is active in training key leaders to work in emerging conflict zones.  Steve Killalea from Australia demonstrated the economic benefits of peace from data compiled by his Global Economics Institute, in partnership with Rotary.  Some rankings were NZ 2, Canada 6, Australia 11, Syria 163.

 Dr. Tilman Ruff of Melbourne University explained the recent establishment of a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the current quest for its ratification (23 so far) and the Nobel Peace Prize won by his organisation.  This was a very sobering address and really demonstrated the need to ban Nuclear weapons. 

A Victoria Police commander explained the practical benefits that he and 13 other serving officers received from attending one of Rotary’s five masters degree or certificate courses around the world. 

Multi-District Conference

The opening address was by Lord Mayor, Sally Capp.  The Melbourne City Council is working on a radical new approach to introduce a scheme where the homeless will have secure lockers to store their “stuff”, leaving them free to attend appointments, get a meal, or go to the bathroom.

Dr. Stephanie Urchick, with the aid of a matching grant and the Rotary Club of Krakow, was able to secure mammography equipment and a biopsy unit for a hospital in Poland.  This project helped re-establish Rotary in Poland post communism. 

John Soe was stricken with polio at 4 months of age and it was then that he was given to an orphanage for being cursed.  Eventually, at the age of 13, he was adopted by a Dutch Rotarian living in Singapore.  Until then he had never been hugged.  The “nobody’s child” is now a strong, competent and inspiring person. 

Dr. Edna Ismail was a retired midwife in Somaliland which had been destroyed by war and over 250,000 people were killed.  Edna asked her ex-husband (the Somaliland President) for some land to build a hospital.  He donated a tip which was cleared eventually for a maternity hospital.  Now midwives are trained there and many thousands of children have been safely born. 

Brittany Arthur was not only our MC but had previously emceed the Rotary International Conference in Toronto. She is a Rotaract President in Berlin and commutes to Tokyo for her own business.  Her address to the Conference was about connecting Rotary to the Alumni and Youth.  We need to sell the fact that ‘Rotary is the place to be’ to the younger generations.  They look for mentoring, project engagement, professional contact and team dynamics. 

Grace Forrest addressed the problem of human slavery and how many of us inadvertently buy clothing, etc. which is manufactured in sweat shops.  We need to be aware of the source of our expenditure.

A very amusing look at our underwater world was given by Sheree Marris.  This was a very revealing insight into the marine life in Port Phillip Bay.  Wow, you just don’t know what you are living in reach of. 

There were several panel discussions and an excellent series of performances by Youth Exchange students, circus performers and BUSYFEET (an inspirational, young diverse group). 

We enjoyed an exceptional Gala Dinner for 1000 and danced like there was no tomorrow.  We almost behaved.

Sunday morning we listened to our Districts goals and met the exchange students.  Ian Riseley spoke about his and Juliet’s years in Chicago.  It was announced that the 2023 International Convention would be in Melbourne.

We returned to the main hall of the Convention Centre where Christine Nixon (former Commissioner of Victoria Police) spoke about her leadership in a male environment and the battle to increase the female membership of the police force.

The morning concluded with wonderful entertainment by Marina Prior.

This was the first multidistrict conference in the Rotary world.  It was incredibly enlightening and so much fun.

Our next District conference will be in Echuca (March 20/21).  Looking forward to it. 

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