Rotaract is an international program for young men and women ages 18 to 30 who believe they can make a difference. Rotaract clubs provide an opportunity for young adults to enhance the knowledge and skills that will assist them in personal development, to address the physical and social needs of their communities and to promote better relations between all people worldwide through a framework of friendship and service.
Rotaract is apolitical, has no religious connections and is a non-profit organization (money raised is donated to various causes). Rotaractors meet regularly to plan and participate in social and community services activities.
Rotaract was founded in 1968 by Rotary International, a worldwide association of service-minded business and professional leaders. Today there are over 6,000 Rotary-supported Rotaract clubs with more than 130,000 members in some 120 countries around the world. Clubs are either community-based or university-based.
In March 1968 the first club was chartered. It consisted of 16 members and was 'The Rotaract Club of Charlotte', North Carolina, USA. Australia was not far behind, and on June 14 'The Rotaract Club of Brisbane West' was chartered.
Victoria now has over 30 clubs and there are 120,000 members worldwide. Each country is divided into Districts that contain many clubs.
North Balwyn is in District 9800, the oldest club in which is Essendon, which was formed June 17, 1969.
Each Rotaract Club is chartered with the aim to develop responsible citizens who will perform to high standards in their working life and their community involvements. Members are prepared to help others in the local and wider community at the same time gaining skills and understanding through their efforts.
- To develop professional and leadership skills
- To emphasize respect for the rights of others, based on the recognition of the worth of each individual
- To recognise the dignity and value of all useful occupations as opportunities to serve
- To recognise, practice and promote ethical standards as leadership qualities and vocational responsibilities
- To develop knowledge and understanding of the needs, problems and opportunities in the community and worldwide
- To provide opportunities for personal and group activities to serve the community and promote international understanding and good will toward all people.
The Club is governed by the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer as well as a Director from each of the four service committees (collectively know as The Board). The four committees are Professional Development, Community Service, International Service and Club Service.
The committees and the Board meet monthly. The committee Directors report to the Board activities planned for the club, and the Board makes the final decision as to what activities the club participates in. Each club member is encouraged to be in a committee.
Elections for the Board positions are held annually and their own club members elect the members to a position.
Roles of the Board members
The President is responsible for the overall running of the club and is ultimately responsible for the clubs actions. They are responsible to Rotary, the District Committee and their own members.
Their duties are:
To provide leadership development opportunities for members and identify members skills and interests and designate them to work on club projects To monitor successful promotion and completion of the clubs community and international service projects To liaise with other Rotaract Clubs and Rotary to keep members informed of what is happening within their District.
- Vice President
The Vice President assists the President in governing the club and presides when the President is absent.
The Secretary takes the minutes of Board and Club meetings and is responsible for the incoming/outgoing correspondence. They act as the club promoter via correspondence with Rotary, District and international Rotaract Clubs, outside organisations and prospective members.
The Treasurer is responsible for the collection and distribution of club funds, the upkeep of the books and ensuring that cheques are issued correctly. They are in charge of two bank accounts: administration and service/projects (fund raising). They collect dues, pay club bills and reimbursements for the club. They also must annually forward all paperwork to the Corporate Affairs Office.
- Professional Development Director
The Professional Development Service Director is involved with providing information on a wide cross-section of businesses and professions by organising guest speakers and visits to workplaces. They encourage leadership and self-education by organising training programs which educate and develop skills (such as organisational management) which benefits the members both in their career and everyday life.
- Community Service Director
The Community Service Director is involved with increasing the knowledge and understanding of community needs, problems and opportunities. They develop projects which will service and improve the local community and are carried out by the club as a whole. Some examples are fund raising, garden maintenance for the elderly, assisting local organisations and tree planting (environment awareness).
A major District community project is 'SANTA', where Rotaract members dress as Santa and helpers and visit Christmas parties prior to Christmas. The proceeds recently have been donated to DEBRAA (Cotton Wool Babies), to assist with research or for the purchase of equipment.
- International Service Director
The International Service Director provides knowledge and understanding of national and international affairs. They develop activities to give service for promoting the international understanding and good will toward all people. Some examples are sponsoring a thirld world child, participation in the '40 hour famine' or 'Walk Against Want', international guest speakers and communication with overseas clubs.
- Club Service Director
The Club Service Director co-ordinates the social activities of the club and promotes fellowship within the club. They are responsible for club attendance and public relations. Activities are organised involving members of their own club and often members from others Rotaract Clubs also. Some examples are evenings out (movies, restaurants), sporting challenges (versus other Rotaract Clubs and Rotary), club raids and video nights.