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President Thaya's Message

23 March 2022



My fellow Rotarians and friends of Rotary,

My Takeaways!

I have been to many Rotary District Conferences and a few Rotary International Conferences since 1996. Last week's conference at the "Warwick" was truly a "Changemaker" conference, as its theme goes.

 One of my favourite authors and leadership gurus, John C. Maxwell, once said, "There are five nonnegotiable characteristics that every effective leader must have: a sense of calling, an ability to communicate, creativity in problem solving, generosity, and consistency." At the conference, I could very clearly notice all these characteristics amongst the leaders of Rotary, community leaders who participated as guest speakers, and, of course, our fellow Rotarians.

Since many of our club members were unable to participate, it is prudent to summarise my takeaways from the conference.

1.     Rotary promotes "Servant-hood Leadership"

The motto of Rotary is "Service Above Self". This mindset also paves the way for us to define our leadership style. I am sure all those who participated in the conference will agree with me that it was a privilege for us Rotarians to spend the weekend with the Rotary International trustee and our Rotary International President's Personal Representative (RIPPR), Jessie Harman.

Jessie Harman is the first female from Zone 8 to be elected to the Board of Rotary International. She is a trailblazer for Rotary in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.

It was very evident that Jessie was not an ordinary leader. If one spends half an hour with her, it will be very evident to notice that competency and compassion were the virtues for her to serve in the highest body of Rotary International.

We all had the opportunity to listen to her 3 times, and she addressed a few hard issues in Rotary and in life, such as changing with time to stay strong, taking risks and learning from failures, the power of connections, addressing mental health as a priority today, and having fun while serving others.

Jessie was as simple as a typical Australian, and she spoke with almost everyone at the conference and took photos with at least half of them. She even acted as the Governor of our district on the last day of the conference. In summary, Jessie herself was a message to all of us Rotarians.


2.     Rotary promotes peace at any cost

We are saddened by the escalating loss of life and humanitarian hardship being inflicted on Ukraine. Our thoughts are with our fellow Rotary members and citizens of Ukraine coping with the events that have unfolded in their country. As one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations, we have made peace the cornerstone of our global mission.

The organisers of the conference devoted the whole Gala Dinner on Saturday evening to raising funds for the victims of Ukraine. An added feature for the dinner was a celebration of Ukrainian culture, with dances and a short presentation, to honour and support all our Ukrainian friends. It was heart-warming to watch the entertainment of Ukrainian kids.

Rotary is all about empathising with the pain of the international community and assisting them. Our district organisers were so considerate in promoting the Ukraine appeal throughout the night.

We join the international community in calling for an immediate cease fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and the restoration of diplomatic efforts to resolve this conflict through dialogue.


3.     Rotary promotes learning and collaborations

We had many prominent guest speakers at the conference. Dr Norman Swan, 'Who Gives a Crap' Simon Griffiths, 'War on Waste' Craig Reucassel, and David Pointon from THE MEN'S TABLE, to name a few.

In my view, the most suitable for an immediate synergy with the Rotary Club of Strathfield would be The Men's Table. David's presentation was outstanding, and it was needed at this hour. Synergy is the concept that the combined value and performance of two institutions will be greater than the sum of their separate individual parts.

The first MEN'S TABLE was established in 2011. Since 2019, this simple, accessible, and proven model has been taken to the Australian community, with over 40 Tables now established. The Men's Table is a fast growing registered charity supporting community building and preventative men's mental health.

In partnership with the National Mental Health Commission, they have investigated the evidence behind men's social isolation and loneliness, lack of meaningful friendships, reluctance about seeking help, and the stigma of outdated masculine norms and how these issues can be addressed.

They bring a fresh, energetic, and real-world storytelling approach to the issues and opportunities associated with men's mental health and community building. Women strongly engage and relate to their stories. And they have proven to be big supporters of men having safe spaces to share feelings and connect authentically with other men.

Our district conference was a huge success and I would like to congratulate our District Governor, Jeremy Wright, and his organising committee for their excellent and exceptional efforts.

This conference was very inspiring. It personally reminded me to understand better what Rotary should be and how to walk the talk.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."                                                               - Margaret Mead

Rotary Service to You

Thaya Ponnia 

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Last Update Tuesday March 22, 2022