MEETING REPORT 28th January 2014
Chair: Gerard Hogan
Reporter: Neil Salvano
Photographer: Roger Thornton
President Doug welcomed all present, following which the toast to Rotary International was proposed by Gerard Hogan.
Devendra Shastri – RC Surat West (north of Mumbai, India). 48 years Rotary service, including three times as District Governor.
Philip Rowell – RC Brighton North
Sat Mishra – guest of George Mackey (for the final time, since Sat was inducted during the meeting)
Laura Hartman – guest of Philip Rowell and Neville John
Attendance: 32, including visitors and guests.
Induction of New Member
The first item of business during the meeting was that most pleasant duty for a Rotary Club President – the induction of a new member. Mr Sat Mishra is an IT entrepreneur and, in that role, came to know George Mackey - who introduced him to the Rotary Club of Central Melbourne-Sunrise. Sat is married with two young children, so unfortunately his wife was unable to join him at the breakfast induction. However, Sat and his family will be attending the Club BBQ function on Feb 16th, giving members a chance to meet them then.
President Doug Robertson formally inducted Sat as a member of the Club and presented him with his certificate and badge, after which he was welcomed by members with the customary acclamation.
President Doug noted that it was a great pleasure that Rotarian Devendra Shastri was able to attend Sat’s induction, since the two of them had known each other in India, prior to Sat’s migration to Australia ten years ago.
Roger Thornton has agreed to mentor Sat for his first six months in the Club. Sat will join the Youth Services Committee (nee “New Generations”) under the chairmanship of George Mackey.
There were no announcements from the floor.
President Doug announced that it had been decided that the Club would sponsor a table at the “Women in Rotary” breakfast on Tuesday 4th March, to which it would invite eight young women from the two secondary colleges with which we work, hosted by two members of RC CMS. The usual RC CMS breakfast meeting that morning would proceed as scheduled with the RACV Club at the beginning of the 2013-14 Rotary year.
Fundraising Committee Report:
Greg Cuthbert reported that a Committee meeting would be held within a week, to progress activities during the second half of the Rotary year.
Another of the very popular and successful fundraising dinners was planned for mid-late March. Early bird bookings are now open with Greg.
The Committee has also started planning for fundraising activities during the 2014-15 Rotary year.
First up was the contribution from Stuart Ellis to our epic poem.
In that, our gallant investigators received a SMS from Sophia just in time to prevent them imbibing the arsenic-laced drinks pro-offered by Darcy.
When challenged by member of the audience about the professional propriety of introducing this “emergency warning” message, Stuart called on precedent for his defence, noting that it was a member of Her Majesty’s constabulary who had placed those investigators in the epic tale.
Sergeant Michael Bromby then decided to build on the success of the previous week with his favourite TV show: Would I Lie to You ?
George Mackey assured us that “I am addicted to chocolate, I must have some every day. I hide it in secret places, so my wife won’t find it.”
Following searching questions, most members of the audience thought that George was lying in his statement. However, George assured us that he was, indeed, very fond of chocolate.
Then it was Bernie Gerlinger’s turn: “When I was a kid, I got into trouble with my grandfather because I let all the chooks out of the shed.”
The jury was fairly evenly split, was a slight majority in favour of the proposition that Bernie was lying (perhaps because of doubts that chickens were called “chooks” in Germany ?). However, Bernie assured us that the proposition was mainly correct – he had got into trouble with his grandfather after getting up to mischief when he was young.
Stuart Ellis AM – CEO, Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Council.
Stuart commenced with an amusing anecdote from his SAS selection training and a subtle comment on how those in leadership positions – whether in business, government or the military – can be perceived as “precise, correct and unhelpful” by those whom they seek to lead.
The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Council is an incorporated non-government body of emergency services agencies across Australia and New Zealand. Its objectives include to develop national standards and accreditation, promote research on relevant topics and facilitate collaborative tendering for capital equipment. Two Co-operative Research Centres are sponsored by the AFEMSC – the Bushfire CRC and the Hazards CRC – involving about twenty universities and research institutes across Australia and New Zealand.
Stuart noted that, among the member agencies of the Council, only the ambulance service in the ACT and the MFB in Victoria were engaged in medical emergency response as part of their official duties. In all other States and Territories and in NZ, emergency medical response was a responsibility of the relevant Health Department.
Stuart also observed that “professionalism is a state of mind, not a state of pay”, with the Council including emergency service agencies with a majority of volunteer personnel (eg: the CFA and the State Emergency Service organizations), as well as the major metropolitan fire brigades (with mainly full time employees).
Member agencies of the Council had an annual expenditure of A$4 billion, with approximately 37,000 full time and 6,000 part time paid staff, together with 100,000 active volunteers. In addition, were another 150,000 ‘inactive’ volunteers on the books.
An important challenge facing the emergency services agencies was the need to manage public expectations – particularly that not all emergencies can be prevented, so there also needs to be emphasis on emergency response, community resilience and recovery. Stuart illustrated this point with some photos and comments on benefits of the “student army” organized by young people following the devastating Christchurch earthquake. He also observed the great resilience of the Australian bush in recovering from fire, especially from ‘cool’ fires such as those produced by periodic fuel reduction burning.
Emergency services can also be wedded to tradition, even when the reasons which gave rise to those traditional practices have changed due to technology. Eg: Thanks to the widespread installation of effective automatic fire sprinkler systems in Australian buildings, there are very few major structure fires now in this country. Hence the need to have fire fighters in action on the scene within seven minutes (the typical time required for a fire to “flash over” and fully involve its room of origin) has reduced. In the UK now, upon receipt of an automatic fire alarm signal, the fire brigade rings to confirm the occurrence of a fire before despatching fire trucks in response, thus reducing the attendant risk to the public of large trucks speeding through crowded streets, as well as the cost of wear and tear on those vehicles of responding to “false alarms”. (If no response is received to the phone call, then the fire brigade will respond to the scene, of course.)
Another example of a changed model of supplying emergency services to the community is Germany. There, with a population of 60+ million, there are now only 5,000 full time fire fighters, supplemented by approximately 1 million part time paid and volunteer fire fighters – all well trained and equipped. Ie: If the fire brigade turns out to a fire in Germany, the members are most likely to be volunteers. As governments face increasing budgetary pressures, this is the kind of question which will need to be addressed in terms of affordability and community preparedness to pay.
Stuart also touched on the challenges of climate change – which is occurring, whatever the cause(s). He observed that Prof Tim Flannery had drawn his attention to the fact that increasing surface temperatures not only increased the bush fire hazard through drying the vegetation, but that the increased evaporation rate also meant that there was more moisture in the atmosphere – increasing atmospheric instability and leading to more frequent and more severe storms (with lightning being a major source of ignition for non-structural fires).
An interesting, challenging and thought-provoking presentation.