Service organisations

Rotary stories

By 6 July 2024July 15th, 2024No Comments

In this post, we will include stories of the activities of the Rotary clubs in our area that we have been told about.

Rotary Club Forest Hill will be sorely missed

Stuart Williams

The Rotary Club of Forest Hill is handing back its charter on 30 June, 2024.  The community will miss their generosity and love. In its 49 years of ‘service before self’ the club has directly impacted over 400,000 people.

Over time, the club put back close to $2,000,000 into the local and global community. Locally, this amounted to around $40,000 annually. This included the contribution of some very generous benefactors like the sons of Ford Davis, and Stan Harper. It also demonstrated how active and creative the group has been in its fund-raising activities.

The club has conducted air shows, fun-runs and marathons, sausage sizzles, golf days, trivia nights, movie nights, speaker breakfasts and footy tipping competitions. They have sold fresh produce, wine and Christmas cakes and collected stamps, spectacles and foreign coins and did cleaning at the Commonwealth Games. Ron Brooks drove the collection of coins. UNICEF benefitted by over $33,000.

Forest Hill Rotary has managed the Blackburn Station Art and Craft Market since 1995. Bill Marsh re-vitalised our sausage sizzle and John McPhee was a diligent and caring market manager. It also worked in partnership with other Whitehorse Rotary clubs and Rotaract in managing the Whitehorse Farmers Market for 17 years.

Rotary Forest Hill worked at doing good in the community in many practical and direct ways as well as supporting many local organisations. Members painted homes for needy people, weeded gardens, assisted with maintaining Blackburn Lake, and Rotary’s Youth Driver Awareness program. Sue Ballard coordinated assistance at The Dementia Cafes and community space at Forest Hill.


Local organisations directly supported include Alkira, Scope, Louise Multicultural Community Centre, Camp Getaway, Salvation Army, Taralye, Mitcham Community House and Eastern Emergency Relief Network.

In the last 45 years the club has had a meaningful and positive influence on the education of many young people. This was the legacy of club members involved in education at all levels. A comprehensive scholarship program ensured students from primary schools in Whitehorse could remain at school and advance their education.

The ‘local hero’ award for the student ‘prepared to go the extra mile’ saw many students, not just high achievers recognised. Glenys Grant endeared herself to schools and families as she organised our Youth Achievement Awards. The former Pride of Workmanship awards to outstanding local workers included memorable recipients such as a violin maker, hairdressers, and car mechanics.

The club had one District Governor, Bob Laslett whose Ballarat District Conference set a District record of over 1,200 people attending.

Forest Hill Rotary has been an active member of Rotary International participating in specific projects, fundraising and youth exchanges.  Past presidents, Richard Kleine, Stuart Williams and John Bindon were Group Study Exchange Team leaders, escorting teams of 5 or 6 twenty-year-olds to South Africa, USA and Great Britain. Past presidents Ray Smith and Geoff Hale went on a work party to the Solomon Islands.

The signature international project for our club for the last 15 years has been Hope Katolo Nursery School in Kenya. Warwick Stott, a local vet in South Blackburn and Forest Hill and at one stage on 3AW giving veterinary advice defined this important project for us. Since 2007, Forest Hill Rotary has contributed over $33,000 to the Nursery School.

A proud club history that made a massive difference to our community.

Stuart Williams was three times club president of Rotary Forest Hill.

The club may be closing but is remaining active in worthwhile projects right to the end of the charter. Latest activities include:

  • Five Youth Citizenship Awards to Year 8 students,
  • Umbrella Dementia Café participation
  • Apprenticeship Awards for Box Hill Institute
  • Scholarships at both Box Hill High and Forest Hill College
  • Teams sent to the Model United Nations Assembly

Rotary Apprenticeship Awards

Glenys Grant,

The Rotary Club of Forest Hill recently ran another Apprenticeship Awards night for Apprentices from Box Hill Institute.

The awards are all given to skilled and dedicated apprentices who are making every effort, but due to circumstances (finance, illness, academic impairment, etc) needed a little extra help to get their course completed.

There are three awards, for $1,750 each. Two are Ford Davis Awards, funded by the family in memory of Ford Davis, RCFH member and first District Governor of District 9810 who was given the task of starting the RC Forest Hill, chartered in 1975. The third is the Graham Taylor Award funded by the RC Forest Hill in memory of a former member.

The two apprentices who received awards were Wayne (Wei) Hao, an electrical and air conditioning apprentice and Ryan Bartlett, a carpentry apprentice.

Wayne Hao, Electrical Apprentice and Ross Barden, Teacher, Wood Trades, both from Faculty of Trades, Box Hill Institute, with Sue Ballard and Bob Laslett, Co-Presidents RCFH.

Wayne explained that he had been a surgeon in China and arrived here in 2018 with his wife to start a new life. They live in Mitcham with their two children, 10 years and 18 months. It was not an option for Wayne to re-enter medicine, so he was advised that becoming an electrician would give him and his young family a good living.

He initially was held back by his lack of English but feels more confident now and is about to commence year three of his course. He works for an air conditioning firm and attends the institute one day a week. The Award monies will mean he can finish his course with less financial stress and buy tools to set himself up in his trade. He expressed his gratitude to the Davis family for making this funding possible.

The second awardee, Ryan Bartlett, was unable to attend due to family illness He was nominated as Carpentry Apprentice Awardee due to his emerging natural leadership skills and commitment to his trade. As with Wayne, he will use the award monies for trade tools.

Ross Bardon, Wood Trades teacher has been attending the dinners for many years as representative for the Box Hill Institute Trades Faculty. In his speech, he explained that many industries, like carpentry, are now becoming automated and so teaching has changed. At one stage the course attendance numbers dwindled, but they are slowly building again, because bosses still want good, skilled workers, properly trained in both the trade and safety.

Ross noted that the return to Technical Trade schools is due to a greater need for trades and builders in the community. There is also a shortage of trade teachers, so incentives are being given by the Government to attract them. He finished by thanking the club and the Davis family for helping the apprentices of Box Hill Institute for so many years.

The Rotary Club of Forest Hill is closing down, but despite that, have ensured sponsorship of the three awards for later this year.

Rotary Box Hill Community Grants 

Each year the Rotary Club of Box Hill Burwood supports local community groups within our locale through our Community Grants Program. Grants assist local groups to provide necessary services that benefit our local community.

Over the last 21 years Rotary Box Hill Burwood have been proud to support over $1 million dollars’ worth of projects locally and internationally. For more information and grant conditions/criteria click link here:

Eligibility for funding through Community Grants is dependent on the organization being an existing group delivering community service within the City of Whitehorse, with priority given to those in Box Hill and Burwood neighbourhoods at the discretion of the Grants Committee; and should be incorporated and have published an annual report and accounts within the previous 12 months.

Preference will be given to projects that support Rotary’s seven areas of focuses. Funding is to be for a specific program, project, or piece of equipment, but not for normal recurrent expenditure items.

How to apply:

Go here to complete and submit your application:

If you have any queries regarding the Community Grants initiative or wish to submit an application by email, please contact: Rotarian Tim Lynn by email at or by post at Community Services Coordinator, Rotary Club of Box Hill Burwood, PO Box 59, Box Hill 3128

Unsung Heroes.  Over 40 years of Youth Achievement Awards.

Glenys Grant

Over forty years ago, Rotary Club of Forest Hill created a unique award, known as the RCFH Youth Achievement Award. The award was given to Year 6 students attending primary schools in Whitehorse. Up to and including 2023, the number of students receiving the award reached 396.

The award is designed to give recognition and confidence to those hard-working quiet young achievers, often not recognised, who dedicate their time and efforts to consistently helping the school and the community.

This award has become so popular that, to accommodate extra family members and teachers, this year TWO award evenings were held. Over two evenings in October, the club honoured 12 Year 6 students, one from each of 12 Whitehorse primary schools. On each night, six awardees along with their families, attended a presentation and dinner at Bucatini Restaurant.

Award winners for primary schools in Whitehorse for 2023 included Sophie from Blackburn Lake; Huma from Burwood Heights; Andrew from Livingstone; Tanaka from Mt Pleasant Road; Alexander from Orchard Grove; Isla from Parkmore; Kiah from Rangeview; Savannah from St Timothy’s; Penny from Vermont; Tiali from Vermont Sth Special; Aisha from Weeden Heights; and Isabella from Whitehorse. Award Winner Isabella

Awardees were supported by parents, siblings, grandparents and teachers.  They received vouchers, photos, family dinners, framed certificates, laminated citations, a goodie bag and publicity for themselves and their schools.

Speakers explained the work of Rotary nationally and internationally including local youth programs such as the Youth Citizenship Awards that the Rotary Club of Forest Hill runs for Year 8 students.

An example of the calibre of these awesome students is demonstrated by one inspiring  youngster who had survived great hardship and had bounced back to become a kind and caring mentor to all, along with supporting the school community at every opportunity.

This award is affectionately called the ‘Unsung Hero Award’ as they recognise a student who may not normally be widely recognised in the community for their efforts. Students are chosen by their school for the award using criteria that he/she:

  • is a role model who upholds the school’s values;
  • can be called upon to help the school or colleagues at any time
  • has achieved success through application and determination this year
  • has made a worthwhile contribution to the school community and/or the environment; and
  • may not have received many academic or sporting awards but has excelled in other ways.

Congratulations to all recipients. They deserve their awards and are a credit to their families and schools, a success now and in the future.

Glenys Grant, is Youth Chair at Rotary Club of Forest Hill

Rotary reaches out to our African Australian communities

Dorothy Gilmour

Rotary SAFE Families is a community project from Rotary Hawthorn. SAFE Families has created the Inclusive Communities Initiative which is focused on providing primary prevention of abuse information to our new Australian communities using our First Aid 3R’s of Abuse Prevention.

3R’s of Prevention:

  1. Recognise signs of abuse
  2. Raise your concerns ‘safely’ with victim
  3. Refer victim to 000 (emergency) or appropriate support agency or make the call yourself

As Rotarians in Australia with a focus on inclusion, diversity and equality, we believe it is important for our new Australians to understand and be informed about primary prevention of family abuse.

We have created a free Toolkit of our Guide for Prevention of Family Abuse in Australia, a short film in Swahili and contact details of relevant support organisations. Our Guides are freely available in Arabic, Swahili, Farsi, Dari, Hindi, Mandarin and Greek.

Family abuse to men, women, children and our elderly is still a taboo topic in Australia. Our Rotary Inclusive Communities Initiative has been developed with the commitment to help our communities where English is the second language. Domestic abuse is not condoned and is a crime in Australia. Abuse is a major issue requiring culture change. Rotary SAFE Families promotes the model for prevention of all forms of abuse to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Along with an understandable fear of reporting abuse, and English being a second language, we identify there are Australians who need support in their first language and culture. Respecting possible trauma still being experienced by many new Australians, we want to help and inform them in how to prevent and support a victim of family abuse in Australia.

Rotary SAFE Families can provide a guest speaker on the following topics: Elder Abuse, Abuse to Children, Male Abuse and Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Children and prevention of abuse in our diverse Australian cultures. To find more information on this project, go to

Dorothy Gilmour is Rotary Hawthorn’s Chair and creator of Rotary SAFE Families