From The President
Our Meeting of the 7th November was a Club meeting.  I find such meetings very useful as they give us a chance to talk more fully about important matters and projects and get good feedback from members on suggestions.  I think this is important as it the members who actually have to make things happen.  
We talked about the very successful movie evening last week where we sold 199 of the 200 tickets on offer and will bank well over $3,000 after the raffle income and event costs are taken into account.  A great outcome and thanks again to all concerned. We also discussed the good feedback that we had  received, not only for the event itself but for the video we showed regarding Mental Health First Aid.  This emphasises the importance of having next steps developed in the near future to build on the momentum created.  Lyndall McGrath and her team will work on the development of a couple of seminars to expose the wider community to the benefits of MHFA. 
The guidance from District on the distribution of Drought Relief Funds was also a topic that caused much discussion.  It was generally agreed that it is actually easier to raise the funds than to distribute them in a fair, cost-effective and tax-effective manner.  Shelley Boyce undertook to investigate possibilities for us to partner with a drought affected community in Western NSW to see if it was worthwhile for us to undertake the fairly bureaucratic process required to apply for, distribute and account for up to $5,000 of the RAWCS multi-million dollar pool.  I also gave a quick update on the Berrima Playground upgrade project.  There was a site meeting last week at Berrima Marketplace involving Wingecarribee Shire Council staff, Berrima District Rotary members and design consultants Play by Design (who did our concept plan).  PbD has been tasked to prepare a new concept plan for the whole park with early emphasis on the playground component, with a 7-week timeline.  In parallel, I am negotiating with the Community Building Partnerships Grant Scheme managers to incorporate our $30,000 grant into the overall picture.  This is a little complicated due to the 31 March 2019 deadline on completion of our part of the project, which has to be fitted into a considerably longer timeline for the whole playground upgrade under the recently obtained Stronger Country Communities Grant.  
Our meeting of the 14th November saw Helen Richards as our Guest Speaker.  Helen is a Clinical Nurse Consultant and Stomal Therapy Nurse at Ramsay Health Care’s Wollongong Private Hospital, but this represents only a fraction of what she does for bowel surgery patients. Active in the Illawarra region she has run education days and acted as volunteer Ambassador for the Illawarra Combined Rotary Clubs bowel scan campaigns.
For 15 years she has run a bi-monthly support service for patients and their families.  In 2013 she volunteered to go to Kenya as a stomal therapy nurse and has made return visits over four years. For the last two years she was a delegate to the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists, most recently at the 22nd annual congress in Kuala Lumpur.  Helen regularly and generously donates medical supplies and consumables to our Medical Aid for Oceania and Worldwide (MAFO) project. While delivering one of these donations earlier this year she met MAFO’s client, Dr Gary McKay of DAISI, and found herself volunteering once again, this time for one of DAISI’s training and surgery missions to the Solomon Islands, from which she has only recently returned.  Helen explained (in quite some detail!) exactly what a stomal therapy nurse does and left members in no doubt that the care and advice such nurses provide to bowel surgery patients vastly improves their quality of life.  She also described the conditions in third-world countries where things we take for granted like pain killers are often simply not available in their hospitals. Training of local doctors and hospital staff by volunteer medical specialists from Australia and other developed countries is vital to the health care systems of those countries.  The talk was clearly appreciated by members and demonstrated that the work of Helen and her colleagues is a credit to their profession.
Our meeting of the 21st November coincided with White Ribbon Day.  Their Ambassador, Garry Ponder, came along to  talk to us about their organisation which focusses on helping female victims of domestic violence.  Garry was appointed an Ambassador for White Ribbon earlier this year, and has been busy raising funds for them along with other responsibilities and activities on their behalf.  He said that the Government only provides 17% of the funding required so a lot of fundraising is required to keep them going (sounds like Rotary!).  He also provided a number of daunting statistics about the high proportion of women who suffer from this problem each year, while noting that a large number of offences go unreported for a variety of reasons. He also noted that there are a significant number of offences by females against males which get a lot less attention. Finally, he noted that White Ribbon operates a female shelter in Bowral which is underutilised, either because the victims are unaware of its existence or they are reluctant to go to a local shelter for fear of ongoing harassment.  Still lots of work to be done in this area it seems.
On Rotary matters, I advised that we are under some pressure to utilise the Community Building Partnerships grant ahead of the March 31, 2019 deadline despite the fact that it will be difficult to implement within the timeline for the WCS Master Plan process.  We will see if a political avenue can be opened up to gain more flexibility in this matter.  It was also noted that there seems to have been little progress in accessing and distributing funds from the RAWCS Drought Relief pool as yet.  Shelley Boyce is working with a group from Goulburn to see if this process can be facilitated in some way.
December 5th, will be our AGM.  The Bowling Club is not available so we are proposing to hold it in a private room at the Bangkok House restaurant in Mittagong.  Please join us on this occasion.