ROTARY Clubs probably wouldn’t claim to be the most socially progressive of community groups – the Dalkeith club’s current policy of not allowing female members makes this clear – but Perth’s newest Rotary based in Crawley is endeavouring to change this r
Frustrated by the limitations of the old Rotarian ways, seven Matilda Bay Rotarians last year pursued sponsorship for a new club with hopes of developing a new attitude and renewed drive from its members to make a difference at a community level.
Matilda Bay’s Rotary management knocked back sponsorship of the new club but the seven long-time rotary members pushed on.
They got the tick of approval from their district governor to start the new club only a stone’s throw from their old stomping ground, and are now based at the University Club of Western Australia.
The Crawley club was officially chartered in February but has been meeting unofficially since November last year.
Now with 71 members, the club meets monthly and has guest speakers on intervening weeks.
Crawley Rotary’s management team leader, Conrad Crisafulli, said the problem with Rotary Clubs was they had been an ageing organisation in terms of rituals and tradition, and also the age of their members.
“Rotary has traditionally had a lot of rituals, mayoral type chains around the neck and Grand Poobahs,” he said.
“The numbers have been static, the average age goes up every year and only goes down when the oldest member dies.
“You tend to get the old boys who have a long history with Rotary and even when they are not in power they tend to be pulling the strings of the marionettes.”
Mr Crisafulli said even though the new club adhered to the Rotary motto ‘service above self’, the point of establishing the Crawley club was to offer a membership with lower commitment levels, a more relaxed attitude, and hands-on involvement with projects.
The goals for the club seem to be going well, with two thirds of members being new to Rotary.
“Despite the ethos of Rotary being all inclusive, you find it very hard to break in, whereas at this club we are all new,” Mr Crisafulli told WA Business News.
“This is very much, ‘we want to make a difference, we don’t just want to write cheques.”
In the short time since the club’s inception, members have committed to supporting three projects, one of which is in collaboration with the EON Foundation to develop a how-to manual for remote indigenous communities growing their own vegetable gardens.