INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION IN SYDNEY - REPORT
Posted by Doug ROBERTSON
Nine members and partners from our club joined 18,000 rotarians from over 150 countries in attending the 105th Rotary International Convention in Sydney.
The convention was officially opened on Sunday 1st June, closing Wednesday 4th at Olympic Park, Homebush. Those attending did not have an issue in travelling out to Homebush. Courtesy of the NSW Government participants were able to use their Convention badges to obtain free use of Sydney’s public transport system; indeed express trains from Central Station to Homebush took only 20 minutes.
On the Saturday evening prior to the opening, our Club hosted 6 members and partners from our sister club RC Osaka Midosuji-Hommachi, Japan. We took them on a dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour, enjoying the annual Vivid Sydney light festival as a bonus. We have been thanked by RC Osaka Midosuji-Hommachi for our hospitality and invited to join them as they celebrate their first anniversary as a combined club on 11th December. Airfares at the moment to Osaka are extremely cheap!
The opening plenary session of the convention included a welcome from the Premier of NSW and a welcome address from the Prime Minister, during which he advised that the Government will contribute $100,000,000 towards the End Polio Now Campaign. This quite caught attendees by surprise. Entertainment included a full concert by Human Nature followed by official speeches and presentation of flags from the 191 countries in which Rotary is represented. All in all a very impressive and enjoyable opening to the convention.
Days 2, 3 and 4 all commenced with plenary sessions followed by breakout sessions. The speakers from around the world were outstanding, inspiring and motivating.
We should all be proud of the story of Professor Martin Silink AM Past President of the International Diabetes Federation located in Brussels and a member of the RC of Lane Cove NSW. He related the story of how, with the support of the Rotary International Ambassador to the United Nations, he was able to lead the IDF to persuade the United Nations, against great inertia in the developed world, to pass a resolution recognising type 2 diabetes as an epidemic to be addressed.
Some of the other speakers included Mwila Chigaga, a Senior Regional Gender Specialist with the International Labour Organisation taking on the might of those in power on the African continent who do not see equality of woman as a priority. Ade Adepitan MBE now a broadcaster and Paralympics medallist told the story of his survival as a child born in Nigeria, contracting polio at 18 months of age but sent to England where he was educated against the odds and became a paralympian. At the Sydney Paralympics in 2000 he played basketball in the Allphones arena from where he was now addressing the plenary session. One of his great achievements may have been leading a march, with none of the participants actually able to march, of polio sufferers from Nigeria on the palace of the President. They demanded better treatment and for something to be done about vaccination. As a broadcaster he was able to muster the presence of the media. Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director General of the World Health Organisation spoke of the developments in polio eradication. In particular it seemed pertinent when he reported that for the first 5 months of the year only 3 cases of polio had been reported in Nigeria. One could sense from his presentation that the strategies now being utilised and the tenaciousness with which they are being applied polio eradication from the world is ever so much closer.
Members from our club split up and attended different break-out sessions, all providing challenges, opportunities and inspiration.
Finally the closing plenary not only included the official matters but entertainment provided by Marina Prior and the Ten Tenors.
Next year’s Convention is in Sao Paulo. Is anyone planning a South American Holiday?
You never know who you might meet at a convention. President Doug, whilst queuing for lunch, turned to say hello to fellow Rotarians only to meet a member from the Kynton Rotary Club that he had not seen for 27 years. The previous time was a graduation dinner following completion of their MBA studies.
An even more unlikely chance for acquaintance occurred on the opening day. Alan Seale was waiting for President Doug to emerge from the queue at the BBQ lunch when he was “accosted” by a young lady and her husband from the RC Esk Valley near Edinburgh in Scotland mentioning that her maiden name was Seale. By the time President Doug joined the conversation, it was clear they had some common ancestry. She then proceeded to take out her phone and bring up the family tree complete with photos. They were able to identify some relatives and then Alan exclaimed: “That is my Grandfather and I have the original photo framed on the wall at home” and almost in the same breath, with his finger jabbing at the phone: “That’s my Father!”.
Spot the family likeness? [Blue tops].
Our convention goers and Japanese sister club members.