In conversation with Rotary’s Paul Thomas

FIFTY+SA spoke to Rotary's District Governor Paul Thomas AM about Rotary in South Australia, their Community Impact Expo and the past and future of Rotary.

We spoke with Rotary District Governor Paul Thomas AM about how Rotary in South Australia helps the community today, about their upcoming Community Impact Expo, and about the past and the future of Rotary in South Australia.

Can you tell our readers who is Rotary in South Australia and how they help the community today?

Rotary is a community-driven organisation made up of a group of like-minded people who leverage their networks, skills and expertise to create community impact. Rotary supports a variety of ongoing projects across areas like homelessness, aged care, education, migrant resources, and healthcare.

It currently has around 2000 Rotarians in District 9510 which represents South Australia, Broken Hill, Alice Springs and the Mildura Sunraysia area. Within the Rotary network in South Australia, there are around 80 clubs from Port Lincoln in the west to Bordertown in the south east.

Rotary Adelaide is hosting the Rotary Community Impact Expo at the beginning of next month, what exactly is a Rotary Community Impact Expo?

Rotary in South Australia are hosting a Community Impact Expo at the University of Adelaide’s Bonython Hall on Saturday, June 3 to showcase volunteering opportunities with its partner organisations.

Attendees can also hear from inspiring keynote speakers including Volunteering Australia CEO Mark Pearce and Rotary International Director, Dr Jessie Harman, on changing volunteer trends and how organisations are adapting. Up to 35 exhibitors will be on display.

Attendance is free and open to the public.

Who is the Rotary Community Impact Expo for? And why should they come along on the day?

The Community Impact Expo is open to the public. Community-minded individuals with a social conscience who are keen to find out new ways to support organisations that serve the community are encouraged to attend.

Individuals who are keen to make a difference in their community are also encouraged to come along.

What should people expect on the day at the Rotary Community Impact Expo?

Doors open at Bonython Hall at the University of Adelaide at 8:30am on Saturday June 3 with up to 35 exhibitors and partner organisations on display including the Salvation Army of SA, Treasure Boxes and Volunteers SA & NT.

The Flentje Theatre within the University grounds will be the venue for a number of keynote addresses from the community and Rotary. These will occur on the half hour throughout the day and include:

  • Justin Hanson MLC
  • Yasser Shahin, Executive Chairman Peregrine Corporation (OTR)
  • Mark Pearce, CEO Volunteering Australia
  • Dr Jessie Harman, Rotary International Director
  • Erfanulla Abidi, Afghani Australian Forces Interpreter

The theme of the Expo is Proud of the Past – Confident of the Future, can you highlight some of the proud moments of the past for Rotary?

As Rotary in South Australia celebrates 100 years of our community impact, we are focussed on creating a legacy for future generations. We are extremely proud of Rotary’s past and confident of the future however, recognise the need to adapt for the next generation of Rotarians.

The key to our success is our people – our members who continue to create community impact.

Life has changed dramatically in the 100 years since Rotary in South Australia begun, how has Rotary adapted to this change?

Since the onset of COVID-19, we’ve seen a significant decline in the rates of formal and structured
volunteering through organisations. These changing volunteer patterns provide challenges to service organisations like Rotary, who have traditionally been membership based.

Rotary is creating new types of volunteering opportunities and new channels into volunteering with a greater focus on diversity and inclusiveness. Incorporating technology and providing opportunities for people to connect with Rotary in a more informal basis through specific cause projects will be important now and into the future.

Speaking of Confidence of the Future, what’s in store for the future of Rotary in South Australia?

Like many service organizations, Rotary is constantly evolving and adapting so it remains relevant, especially to young people. Many young professionals are time-poor but they often have that philanthropic gene and it’s important we engage with them so they can help others through positive social impact.

To celebrate Rotary’s centenary in 2023, we will be announcing a major legacy project on Saturday June 3 which is aimed at improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia. Stay tuned!

Rotary Adelaide


  • Staff Writer

    Made up of a small, tight knit team of writers and contributors who are passionate about all things FIFTY+ and the New Age. We love Adelaide and wider South Australia and sharing with you all of the l...


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