Posted by Keith WATTS
PP Keith Watts reported on this proposal at the meeting on March 12 and advised that our club had abstained from a vote among clubs in District 9600 because we received the information too late to meet the voting deadline. 
Why is this proposed?
 RI Director Noel Trevaskis referred to this in his message to all clubs in our Zone 8 in the following terms.
“After almost 100 years of successful operation in Australia and New Zealand, Rotary finds itself at a very significant cross road.  With a declining membership over the last ten years, Australia has lost 4,314 members (13%) and New Zealand has lost 1,967 (19%) plus an ageing membership demographic, the continued existence of Rotary as we know it is under considerable threat.
Do we remain doing what we are currently doing and find we no longer exist in 20 years OR do we acknowledge we have a problem and accept the challenge to work together to address the issues and make the changes necessary to take Rotary forward for another hundred years?  It is both a challenging and an exciting time for Rotary in this part of the world.
There is an urgent need for change both at the Club and the District levels.  Clubs need to find new ways of attracting and retaining members and Districts need to focus their efforts on providing the best possible support mechanisms to Clubs in their crucial endeavour to grow and strengthen Rotary. Larger and better resourced Districts are seen as a significant way of providing this support to Clubs.”
The Impact on us is that if this goes ahead, the 3 Districts comprising all of SE Qld plus Northern Rivers NSW will merge to form one large District as set out in the proposal below received from DG Don Lane and IPDG Alan Stephens. 
“There are plans to merge the Districts of 9600, 9630 and 9640 (with the exception of Glen Innes) to commence on 1st July 2021.  Discussions regarding this have been taking place with RI Director Noel Trevaskis for some time now. If District membership is 1100 or greater, Rotary International By-Laws Clause 16.010.1. Eliminating and Changing Boundaries does not allow changes to District Boundaries to occur if the majority of clubs within the District object to the changes. To meet the intent of this requirement, we propose to seek agreement from clubs to the proposal below.  To be successful a simple majority of clubs must vote in favour of the proposal.  The same simple majority applies to the result of individual Club voting as well.
The District Leadership Team fully endorses this proposal and recommends that clubs support it. Can you please put the following proposal to your club as soon as possible and return the result as listed below to the District Secretary (Ian Hope- ) no later than 1st March 2018:
“It is proposed that the Rotary International Districts numbered 9600, 9630 and 9640 merge with effect from 1st July 2021”
Zone Director Noel outlined the following benefits identified by the ‘Task Force’ of dedicated Rotarians from all levels of service convened to discuss urgent planning and action required to reverse the serious downward trend in membership across all 27 Districts in Zone 7B and 8 – and discuss how we can all move forward with confidence that Rotary will flourish for another 100 years. .
LARGER DISTRICTS provide a great opportunity for:
  • Developing a flatter, more streamlined District administration with access to a greater number of resources to better support clubs, including the possibility of having a paid administrator/CEO to lead the business team and enable cost efficiencies;
  • Decluttering the role of the District Governor and increase focus more on strategic leadership thereby enabling the possibility of attracting working/younger Rotarians taking up the Governor role;
  • Strengthening the role of the Assistant Governor by giving them the training and resources to provide direct support to clubs and turning them into Area Governors with a maximum of 15 clubs each;
  • Making better use of technology for more regular communication within the District and between Clubs and the provision of a wider range of training and support activities;
  • Utilising economies of scale to employ professional facilitators/resources to help Clubs;
  • Dissemination of a clearer ‘national and state voice’ for Rotary and improve the public image of Rotary;
  • Attracting national corporate sponsorship and the possibility to employ a national fund raiser to support and fund the business model.
The vote in our District was 42 clubs in favour, 8 against out of the 50 clubs voting (we have 68 clubs in our District, so the simple majority required was more than 34).  Our District vote therefore satisfied the RI Bylaw requirements for a change to the District boundaries.   Districts 9630 and 9640 have also concluded their voting with a majority vote in favour of the change to the District boundaries.  This will now be considered by RI in May of this year.
Looking Ahead
The Task Force also considered how Districts and Clubs could work together to:
  • Make Rotary membership more physically and financially accessible by developing innovative ways of engagement for a wider variety of cultural and special interest groups;
  • Turn the focus from fundraising to service and provide Rotarians with more hands-on ways to serve. I leave you with the new RI Vision Statement … “Together we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change - across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves”