Rotary in Australia on the road to reconciliation

Senior Kaurna Man
Mickey O’Brien, senior Kaurna Man, welcomes Rotary members to Kaurna country during a July 2021 event launching the Rotaract Club of Adelaide City, South Australia, Reconciliation Action Plan.

By Katey Halliday, Rotaract Club of Adelaide City, South Australia, Australia, and a member of Rotary International’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce

As a leading community service organisation, Rotary absolutely has a role to play in advancing reconciliation efforts. We exist to serve the community, and to do this well, we must have an understanding and appreciation for Indigenous communities.

Australia is made up of hundreds of different Indigenous nation groups; each with their own culture, customs, language, and laws. Based on Kaurna land on the Adelaide Plains, the Adelaide City Rotaract Club are the first within Rotary to have developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), endorsed by the not-for-profit organisation Reconciliation Australia.

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Performing under pressure

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Like countless others, I watched, read, and listened in impotent and morbid fascination at the horrors unfolding in Ukraine. But one rather different interview caught my ear, while listening to the BBC.

It was the manager of the Ukrainian winter Paralympic team, still competing in Beijing at the time. Speaking in fluent English, with exhausted clarity and indelible sadness etched into every syllable, he tried to articulate how the team members were feeling about their country literally disintegrating in their absence.

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Peace within, peace between, peace among

Brian Rusch

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the fifth in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Brian Rusch has managed organizations for Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. With the knowledge he learned from them, he has created programs to inspire youth to explore ethics and how to reshape conversations on peace, equality, and forgiveness. A Rotary Youth Exchange student, he became a Rotary member in his 20s and helped create Rotary’s first LGBT-cultured club. Read his full bio.

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Paws for thought

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

“Ok, left, left, good boy!”
“Find the pole, find the pole, good boy!”
“Wait, ok, forward.”
“Find the kerb (curb), good boy.”
Find the pole, good boy!”
“Forward, find the kerb, good boy!”
“Straight on, no, find the kerb, forward, good boy!”
“Left, left, good boy.”
“Straight on, good boy!”
“No, we are not going right here, straight on, good boy.”
“Clever boy!” “Good boy!”
“Yes! Good boy!”
“Yes, you are such a clever boy!”

And with that, we had arrived at our destination. This is the exact conversation I have with my guide dog Ronnie when we are walking to a Rotary friend’s home every Tuesday and Thursday.

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Being a good ally to those with disabilities

By S Marathe (full name withheld upon author’s request)

As a young Rotary member who has lived with a vision impairment, I have come to understand the importance of allies. An ally is anyone that actively aspires to be inclusive and is intentional through their thoughts, actions, and words to consciously promote a respectful and inclusive culture.

Many organizations are actively attempting to address the low employee representation across minority groups of gender, culture, and disability and are adopting a range of strategies. But many times, it’s the day-to-day actions that make the most difference. For International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, I wanted to share some of the characteristics that make a great ally. Continue reading

Is it the truth?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Like countless others I imagine, I watched the compelling events to celebrate the birthday of Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, or as he is also fondly known, “The Arch.”

What struck me almost immediately was how the messages from the internationally respected leaders departed from the usual gushy sentimental birthday tributes so loved by celebrities. After short heartfelt tributes to their dearest Arch, South African Professor Thuli Madonsela; Graça Machel, widow of two heads of state (Nelson Mandela and Mozambique’s Samora Machel); and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and past UN Special Advisor on the Environment, all leapt straight in with some serious no holds barred truth telling.

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What we can accomplish when we embrace diversity

A mother adjusts the strap on her son's new prosthesis.
A mother adjusts the strap on her son’s new prosthesis.

By K V Mohan Kumar, charter president of the Rotary Club of Bangalore, Prime, India, and an ambassador of the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation

As members of Rotary, we can show our support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) not only by our words, but by our actions. The way we design projects and include people of all backgrounds as volunteers and recipients speaks louder than words.

In 2021, three members of our district came together to plan a medical project that fitted individuals who had lost hands with free below-the-elbow prosthetics at a camp in Dharwad, India, in October. All three of these members were from different occupations and backgrounds; one a microbiologist, one a business entrepreneur, and one an IT project manager. Together in Rotary, they blended their unique skills to lead a project benefitting people from all backgrounds.

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Lessons in disability inclusion: Does he take sugar?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

I had just finished keying in my pin number on the card reader at the supermarket checkout counter recently when the cashier turned to my friend and asked, “how does he know which buttons to press.”

Being completely inured to this sort of thing, I watched with interest to see how my friend would react. It is peculiar that when encountering a person with a disability, many people very often address the person accompanying them rather than addressing us directly.

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Shifting the paradigm on disability inclusion

Jeremy Opperman

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the fourth in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Jeremy Opperman joined the Rotary Club of Newlands in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2020. He was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a deteriorating eye condition which results in total blindness. He speaks, writes, and consults widely on topics including achieving disability confidence in organizations; making a business case for universal access; and taking a strategic approach to disability inclusion. Read his full bio.

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Smile and celebrate the small wins in DEI

Todd Jenkins

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the third in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Dr. “Bowtie” Todd Jenkins serves as a Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader at a Fortune 100 company in Corporate America and as an Executive Inclusion Trainer, Strategist, and Speaker with Bowtie Leadership, Inc. Todd is a member of the Rotary Club of Fayetteville, Arkansas; and has served as a Rotaract Advisor, Interact Sponsor, RYLA presenter, and Youth Services Chair. He is currently one of the youngest Youth Exchange District chairs in Rotary. Rotary. Read his full bio.

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