Rotary International

Photo of Rotary logo
12 May 2015

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) [6.01 p.m.]: This evening I pay tribute to Rotary International. I speak on this subject as my first private member's statement because I was fortunate to be the beneficiary of a Rotary Foundation Scholarship that enabled me to study overseas for a year and to complete a Master of Laws degree. As many members may know, Rotary International was commenced by Paul Harris, a lawyer. Paul Harris moved to the great city of Chicago where he knew nobody. He devised a plan to meet people by gathering together people of varied occupations within Chicago to meet each week at one another's workplace. They "rotated" their weekly meetings and, as a result, the name "Rotary" was coined.

Rotary is still an organisation that is based on community and bringing people together, and it is that aspect of Rotary International that I wish to concentrate on today. The Rotary district that covers the electorate of Ku-ring-gai is District 9685. Four Rotary clubs cover the Ku-ring-gai electorate: the Ku-ring-gai Club meets at 6.30 p.m. each Monday at the Killara Golf Club; the Waitara Club meets at 6.00 p.m. on Mondays at the Hornsby RSL Club; the Turramurra Rotary Club meets at 6.15 p.m. on Tuesdays at Peter Canisus's house on Mona Vale Road; and the Wahroonga Club meets at 7.15 a.m. on Wednesdays at the Warrawee Bowling Club. Through the voluntary work of their members, those clubs do great things for Ku-ring-gai. The members of Rotary are truly great citizens. We appreciate their work for the less fortunate people within our community.

I have had personal involvement in two aspects of Rotary International. When I was a student at high school, a number of exchange students from Scandinavia attended the school. It was the first time that we had a window on people from another part of the world. One of the great things about international travel and meeting people from other parts of the world is that one gets a sense of the richness of humanity, and you realise that the world is not populated only by Australians. That is an important thing to learn when one is young because it gives one an appreciation of tolerance and difference, which are important for building social cohesion both within our communities and in terms of international peace and goodwill—two important values that Rotary promotes.

The other matter I bring to the attention of the House is the Rotary Foundation Scholarship scheme, of which I was a beneficiary. Each Rotary district sends one person per year to study internationally. When I was the beneficiary of a Rotary Foundation scholarship in 1987 it was valued at $50,000. The scholarship pays for tuition at an international university, which can often be many tens of thousands of dollars. Accommodation, food and board are provided. One is given a weekly stipend—pocket money—and airfares are paid for. Rotary scholarships are a valuable investment in the intellectual capital of our community. Through these fantastic scholarships, the Rotary movement provides a special kind of education for Australians and offers them an opportunity they would otherwise not have.