Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ku-ring-gai Electorate Rotary Clubs

Rotary International Pin

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (18:39:03): In June this year I attended the changeover dinners of Ku-ring-gai's three Rotary clubs, welcomed their new presidents and committees and expressed my appreciation for the wonderful contribution those voluntary associations make both in our local community and further afield. I reflect today on the valuable role that our Rotary clubs play. Established in Australia in 1921, Australian Rotary clubs are part of an international network of business, professional and community leaders who strive to make the world a better place through practical efforts. Today there are over 1,100 Rotary clubs in Australia and approximately 30,000 Rotarians. I have previously spoken in this House of how fortunate I was 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.

Ku-ring-gai's three Rotary clubs—Turramurra, Wahroonga and Ku-ring-gai—are very active in the areas of youth services, community services, vocational services and internationally. Often they work together on a common objective. The most obvious example of that in my electorate is their organisation—together with the Rotary Club of St Ives—of the Bobbin Head Cycle Classic, which has raised millions of dollars for charities over the past eight years. In 2017 the three local Rotary clubs teamed up with their colleagues from Beecroft, Carlingford, Hornsby, Lindfield, Roseville Chase, St Ives and West Pennant Hills, as well as the local, State and Federal governments, to jointly finance the purchase of a new refrigerated van for Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels. The van enables Meals on Wheels to transport food from bulk storage in Hornsby to its kitchen in Turramurra for the preparation of several thousand meals daily.

The Rotary Club of Turramurra was chartered in 1968, initially with 27 members. Since then it has initiated many projects, some of which have been adopted by other Australian Rotary Clubs. The Pride of Workmanship awards, for example, which recognise exceptional service of individuals in local business, were started by Turramurra's Don Trood, while the club's Trees for Survival shade house project has been taken up by over 300 clubs and has received international recognition as the best Rotary project supporting the environment. Other notable Turramurra Rotary projects include the Qantas Jumbo Joy Flight for disabled and disadvantaged children, the Turramurra Youth Centre for youth aged 12 to 18 and the Graffiti Removal Project—another program that, at the request of the New South Wales Government, has been rolled out across the State.

Every year the club hosts an international exchange student who attends Turramurra High School and it sponsors an Australian student on an overseas exchange. Other youth programs which are also supported by the Rotary clubs of Wahroonga and Ku-ring-gai include the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, the Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment and the National Youth Science Forum. The Rotary Club of Turramurra is also very proud of its international projects. They include the children's orphanage in Banda Aceh, which was built after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 after the club had raised over $1.4 million, and the Bo Children's Hospital in Sierra Leone—the lifelong dream of respected paediatrician and Turramurra Rotary member Dr Nuli Lemoh.

The Rotary Club of Wahroonga was chartered in 1975 and, like Turramurra, provides an extensive range of youth services, perhaps most prominently the Novus Foundation. That joint project between the club, the San hospital and McCarroll's Automotive Group has raised in excess of $1.2 million to support local youth-oriented organisations. The club provides scholarships for special needs children at St Lucy's and St Edmund's schools, works with Knox Grammar and Abbotsleigh schools to run the ABBOX Sony camp for children with disability aged five to 15, and is closely involved with KYDS Youth Development Service, Our Kids Our Mob, Operation Hope, PCYC Kids at Risk, StreetWork and Studio ARTES. The Rotary Club of Wahroonga also annually celebrates achievement and excellence in vocational employment, provides support and encouragement to professional endeavour through a number of awards and runs a public speaking competition for local year 10 students. Internationally it has a focus on schools in the Gorkha district of Nepal, especially teacher training and school rebuilding after the 2015 earthquakes. It supports orphanages in Sri Lanka and Mongolia, education for children in Cambodia and a women's collective in Kopanang, an impoverished township near Johannesburg.

In 1959, 26 charter members launched the Rotary Club of Ku-ring-gai and for over 60 years it has supported young people in difficult times, celebrated academic excellence, mentored young community leaders, assisted the disabled and those with special needs, supported local charities, recognised local business and tradespeople and generally been a very visible and hands-on presence in Ku-ring-gai. Of particular interest to me is the club's support of Camp Breakaway on the Central Coast, which provides respite care for people with disabilities and their carers, and its presentation of the club's Benefic Award to one year 9 student at each of Turramurra, Ku‑ring‑gai and Killara high schools who displays a "favourable influence" among their peers. The Rotary Club of Ku-ring-gai is also justifiably proud of its role in facilitating the connection of electricity to the Katuuso Primary and Vocational School in Uganda by providing solar power and a back-up generator. That project followed its funding of a maternity hospital in Sierra Leone and a youth leadership training program in East Timor.

It is easy to focus only on these substantial contributions, but the Rotary club members greatly enjoy giving their generous and ongoing support to our community. It is this unique combination of community and international contribution, camaraderie, fun and encouragement that makes it so valuable for people to join Rotary and make the world a better place by embodying the Rotary slogan "Service Above Self".