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A Brief History of Rotaract

By Alanna Melville

Rotaract began as a Rotary Youth program run by Charlotte North Rotary Club in Charlotte, North Carolina in the US. The Rotaract Club of the University of North Carolina was chartered in March 1968. Rotaract came to Australia only a few months later with the Rotaract Club of West Brisbane in June 1968.

The first Rotaract Club in South Australia was the Rotaract Club of Edwardstown, chartered in 1972, with President Alison Trigg. This led to a boom, with nearly 40 clubs in South Australia by 1980.

Rotaract continued to spread and have great influence throughout the 80s, with the introduction of Project Santa and a change in district organisation, and moving into the early 90s, after which it unfortunately fell into decline. Today, Rotaract has resurrected in South Australia, with 4 clubs who are constantly on the lookout for new members. These Rotaract clubs are part of around 291,000 individuals in over 9,500 clubs covering 170 countries in the world today – from Australia to Sri Lanka to Uganda.

Rotaract is, and always has been, a service, leadership, professional and community service organization. The purpose of Rotaract, as stated by the Rotaract Club of Gawler in 1974 in their charter night pamphlet, was “to stimulate the acceptance of high ethical standards in all occupations, to develop leadership and responsible citizenship through service to the community and to promote international understanding and peace”.

The goals of Rotaract Australia in April 2018, according to their website, are these:

1. leadership skills

2. respect

3. dignity

4. ethical standards

5. opportunities

6. serving the community and promoting international goodwill

We can see that although the wording has changed, the ultimate goals of Rotaract are the same. Balls, Quiz Nights, working bees, Project Santa and many other fundraisers and service activities have left their impact on South Australian communities who have benefitted from Rotaract’s work. Conferences, development camps, committees, Rotarian support and leadership development opportunities have created strong leaders in South Australia and will continue to create the leaders of tomorrow.

Our current clubs are:

· Salisbury Rotaract Club

· Thebarton Senior College Rotaract Club

· Adelaide University Rotaract Club

· Adelaide City Rotaract Club

On average, these clubs are 7 years old and they have a combined total of around 70 members. Main projects include a Rotaract fundraising shop at Thebarton Senior College, Salisbury’s Christmas Lunch, Adelaide City’s annual movie and quiz nights, and ongoing support of the Hutt St Centre, Catherine House and the Zahra foundation.

With a strong history behind us, it is my hope that Rotaract will continue to be a wonderful organisation, with committed members serving the community and building their leadership skills and friendships at the same time. In the future, we would like to see more Rotaract clubs across South Australia, in both rural and urban areas, and to see greater connection with the Rotary district.

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