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Vice President's Report - 2006/2007

Club Service Committees - Vice President Barry Murphy 

Well, we have enjoyed some wonderful speakers at our lunches during the year - and I'll speak more about that later - but we have reached that time of the Rotary year when you might feel it is pay back time, as Greg Romanes and I try to keep you interested during our reports on the status of the club's management activities, which it is my pleasure to address, and on club's community activities and projects, which Greg will talk about.  Sleeping for the next 25 minutes might be ok for some, but the snorers can expect a big fine to be imposed by the Sergeant - unless of course, he too falls asleep.

This has been the club's ABC year, that is, the year of the Australian Born Chinese President and as everyone knows, the Chinese are famous for their proverbs.  So I trust President Chris won't mind if I throw in a few Chinese proverbs during this report on the Club's services for the year - they will probably be out of context, but hopefully most of you won't notice!

My first Chinese proverb example is,

"Flies never visit an egg that has no crack"

and of course, with this proverb, I am referring to our wonderful luncheon meeting program organized by Robin Reid's team, featuring Jens Holstein and Don Hyde as main players supported by a great and usually inconspicuous team, with music accompaniment from the Barry and David show.  I'm sure you would all agree with me that no cracks have appeared in our program organization and hence we've never seen any flies at lunch time, which goes to prove the proverb to be accurate.  I would also like to recognize the wonderful work of our "Meeters and Greeters" team whose efforts help to make our visitors feel welcome and facilitate the introduction of newer members into the club.

We have truly been very fortunate to have so many wonderful speakers during the year; the amazing range of topics covered has been so relevant to contemporary issues- drought, water resources, fire fighting, nuclear energy, mental heath, and of course, a touch of sport.  And we shouldn't forget the excellent Angus Mitchell oration on the topic of our own Four - Way Test delivered by Justice Michael Kirby, and organized by Vice-President Greg Romanes.  For many of us, however, the most inspiring talks were those given by the Club's first Multiple Sapphire Paul Harris Fellow Recipients, John Kendall and David Wittner.  Their combined wisdom and experience in Rotary serve to illustrate another famous Chinese proverb,

"When you want to test the depth of a stream, don't use both feet".

Fellowship has been the theme of President Chris's year and he has done much himself to promote and encourage a great club environment where members enjoy each others company.  This can be difficult when members have a lot of demands on their time and Chris, ably supported by Alistair Urquhart and his teams, have taken some risks in organizing a plethora of fellowship events, all of which have been very successful and well attended by members.  We have had great Arts and Health activities, plus the District Conference in Canberra, which was so well organized by Phil Endersbee, just to mention a few events.  When considering the risks taken in organizing new and untried activities, the organizers have had to bear in mind another famous Chinese proverb,

"One cannot refuse to eat because there is a chance of being choked",

Which may be why so much food was eaten at those marvelous Chinese restaurant dinners that Chris organized!!

Group activities continue to be important to nurturing fellowship in a club our size and hence commitment and support of those activities by members is needed.  As a club we have given good support to other clubs especially those in our cluster with our inter club visit program managed by Bruce Davidson, and overseas clubs also.

The quietest achievers within our internal activities are the Club Services team ably led by Peter Bailey and featuring a wealth of Rotary experience and commitment.  We have had a most valuable ensemble featuring John Kendall on archives, Grahme Bond on insurance, Robin Syme on legal and, despite the drought, Ian Ferguson on the park, the Rotary Park that is.  This very experienced team actually disproves another well known Chinese proverb,

"Experience is a comb which nature gives to men when they are bald". 

If you don't believe me, just look at Grahme Bond's healthy head of hair.

Our Communications team ably led by John Tozer has done an absolutely marvelous job.  It was largely John's efforts, with support from Kevin Simkiss, that the Club Directory was in members' hands in July last year - in true Rotary fashion, having set the bar so high, John and Kevin are on the job for us again this year.  John also has led the efforts to produce our photographic record of club activities.  The Bulletin continues to be professionally produced by Editor Alistair Urquhart and his team who have managed to halve the reporting time of our lunch events from two weeks to one week - well done by all. 

The average age of our members may be more in tune with the slide rule rather than the computer, but boy as a club, we really do have a handle on the latest technology.  For example, thanks to Phil Bowley's untiring efforts, our web site is second to none in terms of user friendliness, capability and content.  Furthermore, it has been Christian Peterson's initiative, supported by Phil, which, through web casting on our web site, has led to recordings of our guest speakers being able to be heard around the world - wow!  This capability has been leveraged off a long standing relationship developed and nurtured by our Luncheon Committee with 3RPH.  The highly effective efforts of this very small Communications team are living proof of that other well known Chinese proverb,

"An overcrowded chicken farm produces fewer eggs".

This same proverb applies equally to our Finance management where a small team has produced lots of eggs for the club.  Bill Charlton continued his untiring and excellent work as Treasurer for his third year, while Ted Garland has chaired our Investment Committee.  As a consequence of their efforts, I'm happy to report that the Club's finances are in great shape; total funds of the Club and the three trust funds exceed $2M and members would be interested to know that following the Special Appeal, and Peter Bearsley's great effort in the London marathon, total funds in the Community Foundation Fund now exceed $600,000 - that demands a big thank you to all the many donors. 

Separate from this great financial outcome, on top of her traditional office administration work, Jo Mavros has taken responsibility for day-to-day accounting from Bill's hands and, with a really tremendous assistance effort from Ron Cullen, that transition is progressing very well.  Jo now has the office humming smoothly - thank you, Jo.

Membership of course is the lifeblood of our Club.  Without a vibrant membership we can't undertake the Community projects which Vice-Present Greg will discuss in a few minutes, nor could we support the infrastructure of the Club.  The Membership team has been led with initiative and drive by Peter Rogers. The team set and achieved some high targets.  For example, this year we have inducted 26 new members leading to a total membership base of 263 registered members and 22 honorary members for a total of 285 club members - 14 more than at the start of the year, and in addition, our retention rate improved.  Also, we reached our target of having not less than 40 women in the Club at year end.  Despite inducting Pat Barry, the Club's youngest member since David Wittner, at year end our average age of members' remains at 65, the same as at the start of the year, which is not too bad considering that we all are a year older.  The average age of those inducted this year was 50. The Membership team's very proactive attack on membership targets convinces me that the team followed that other well known Chinese proverb

"Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth, must wait very,very long time."

Time has not permitted me to thank by name most of members who contribute in some way to the running of our great Club, and there are almost 100 of our members who unselfishingly give of their time to make sure members have a club which we can be proud of in terms of functional efficiency and the creation of a friendly environment which all of us can enjoy.  I applaud all of you.

In reflecting upon the past year, I have concluded that the Club's infrastructure and service capabilities are in good shape from which may lead to some of you concluding that as vice-president, I haven't done too much damage.  However, as we go forward (don't you just hate that cliché!), I feel that we need to keep in mind Angus Mitchell's words when in 1948 he said:

"We must be ever mindful that Rotary's simplicity, its idealism, is not swamped by authority, precedent and machinery.  We must be careful to preserve simplicity in our organization and its administration."

The challenge for us is how do we achieve that goal in 2008.

If this talk has been confusing to anyone, I will save my last Chinese proverb for you. 

"Did you really expect to find ivory in a vice-president's mouth?"

Barry Murphy

20th June 2007

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