Posted by Jessalyn Lim on Jul 12, 2023
Welcome to the new Rotaract year!
I recognise many of you have probably never heard of me, so I’ll start with an introduction to myself. I’m Jess, short for Jessalyn, and I’m the District Rotaract Representative (DRR) of District 9810 for 2023-24.
The first time I heard about Rotary in the context of me being involved in the organisation was when the Head of Student Voice at Mount Waverley Secondary College, Hayley Dureau, emailed me a PDF copy of the Interact handbook, and told me that the local Rotary club was interested in starting an Interact club at our school. That led to three and a half years of Interact, trips to both the Rotary Youth Program of ENrichment (RYPEN) and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), and joining the Rotaract club of Monash in 2020, as soon as I turned 18. I was a Board Director in 2020-21, Secretary in 2021-22, and President for 2022-23. This year, I’m the DRR of District 9810, and the Social Media Manager for Rotaract Australia, our Multi-District Information Organisation (MDIO).
Reflection on 2022-23
In reflection of the last year, we’ve certainly had one of our best years since the COVID lockdowns. All four clubs organised and hosted fundraising events; Knox had their Biggest Morning Tea fundraiser for Cancer Council, Manningham had their non-alcoholic Paint and Sip, Monash had a movie night fundraiser for the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, and Whitehorse had their annual Giant Monopoly night.
Whitehorse’s Giant MonopolyManningham’s Paint and Sip
Additionally, we had several District events for the first time since the COVID lockdowns. We had a movie night and toiletry collection for Pinchapoo for Christmas in July, participated as a district in the STEPtember walk-a-thon fundraiser to raise money for cerebral palsy, and a holiday picnic in December.
It is with sadness that we may be bidding farewell to a couple of our clubs. We will be saying goodbye to some members, while others intend to continue on with Rotaract at our other clubs. While this may be the end of this particular chapter, these clubs have a lot to be extremely proud of in all of the positive outcomes that they’ve achieved in their community over these last few years, and we’re so extremely proud of them too. We can’t wait to see what all of the crew get up to next!
Priorities for 2023-24
  1. Rotaract District projects and events – Alice Terrill and Dan Du Bois, 2022-23 co-DRRs, brought back District projects and events for the first time since the COVID lockdowns. Continuing this work is a priority of mine this year, which will include an event at the Beau Monde International.
  2. Relationship with Interactors - Alice Terrill and Matt Gibney, 2022-23 Whitehorse Rotaract co-Presidents, have done a wonderful job at recruiting former Interactors from Koonung Secondary College, their old high school. However, there are many more Interactors in the district than that, and so improving our relationship with them is another priority.
  3. Relationship with RYLArians - RYLArians are the participants of RYLA, and in the past, many of them have become Rotaractors. However, as RYLA paused for a few years during the COVID lockdowns, that pathway has dissipated. Attending the Rotary Expo at RYLA on June 29 with several other Rotaractors was a starting point, but I plan on continuing to work on this relationship throughout the year.
  4. Rotaract Australia priorities - Rotaract Australia has a couple of priorities that are relevant to us on a district level. The first is to support Rotaractors through the regionalisation pilot that is now beginning. The other is to engage with the Rotary Foundation; Rotaract clubs have been able to access District Designated Funds through district grants for a few years, but few have. One of my goals this year is to support Rotaract Australia’s priorities in District 9810.
  5. Prepare Rotaractors for D9810/D9820 merge - my final goal is to work with District Governor Elect Colin Byron to prepare Rotaractors in both districts for the upcoming merge next year.
Rotary supporting Rotaract
I’m often asked how Rotary can support Rotaract. “How can we recruit more Rotaractors?”, ‘How can we start more Rotaract clubs?”, “How can we get more Rotaractors to join Rotary?” are all questions I’m asked, and they are great questions - I have them too. But, this year, I want to reframe how we think about Rotary supporting Rotaract. Instead of focusing on recruitment and membership, I want to focus on the Rotaractors we have now. This analogy isn’t mine, but someone compared this to a bucket with holes in it. Focusing on recruitment and membership is trying to put more water into the bucket, but since there are still holes in it, water will still flow out. However, if we focus on the club and repair the holes in the bucket, the bucket will retain the water, and be able to successfully collect more water. This then begs the question - how can we, as Rotarians, help repair the bucket? I believe the answer is to focus on collaboration and partnerships. Attend Rotaract meetings and events, and invite us to yours. Don’t just ask us for help with a Bunnings BBQ, but ask us to get involved with organising an event, service project, or even a District grant project. If you would like my assistance and/or involvement, I can be reached at
Final remarks
Anyone who knows me well probably knows that Star Wars is one of my favourite movie series. And in one of those films, Rogue One, a Rebel gives Princess Leia the plans to the Empire’s superweapon, and asks what it is. Leia’s reply? Hope.
That day, Jyn Erso and the rest of Rogue One created hope. At that point in the story, the Rebels are losing. The Empire has a planet-destroying superweapon, and those plans are their only way to destroy it. Those plans, that creation of hope, created lasting change in the world (or at least, it did, until they made a second Death Star. Minor details?).
This year’s presidential theme is to “Create Hope in the World”. So let’s be a Jyn Erso, or an Obi-WaN Kenobi. Let’s create lasting change in the world, one restored or newly created hope at a time.