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08 Sep 2016

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Celebrating diversity

Southbank Rotary Club president-elect Stuart Cardell says it was the “strong mix of diverse people” that originally attracted him to join the club.

A seven-year member of Southbank Rotary Club, Stuart first joined rotary as a teenager and, despite having moved interstate and overseas, his involvement with the international organisation has never wavered.

While living in Canberra and then London between 2000 and 2009, Stuart joined local rotary clubs in both cities and said he had been keen to join Southbank Rotary when he returned to Melbourne.

“I knew about this club when I had left and a friend of mine in London was coming back to Melbourne and I pointed her to the club and so when I came back I joined too,” he said.

“The thing that has really attracted me to this club is that it has a good balance of people from all walks of life. Good gender balance, good socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and young people as well as old people.”

Currently working as a public servant for the Department of Education and Training, Stuart said he had always been passionate about both education and youth.

While he said he was fortunate to be able to pursue his passions through his long career in the public sector, he said being involved with Rotary had allowed him the chance to pursue those same passions outside of his professional life.

“My working life has always been in the public sector and the majority of that time I’ve spent working in either education or youth services so it’s an area I’m passionate about,” he said.

“For me one of the great strengths of Rotary is that people can have any sort of passion in any particular area and they are able to go and pursue that. So, for me, my passion is working with young people and in education for all people.”

During his time with the Southbank Rotary Club, Stuart has held a district role in organising an annual youth leadership camp, helped run the Rotary Science Forum for students and has been involved with various other youth initiatives.

However, as an organisation with a global outlook, Stuart said the club had also had major successes overseas, including raising more than $100,000 for projects in Bali and contributing to Rotary International’s efforts in eradicating polio.

As for its local outreach, he said the club continued to work with Hanover House on youth homelessness projects and engage with the diverse Southbank community through the Boyd Community Hub.

“I think our engagement with the community here through Boyd has certainly pointed out to us that there are a lot of people who live in the high-rises that do feel a bit isolated and Boyd has really created a space for that sense of community,” he said.

“I think people really want that sense of community here and it’s hard to get that without having the space to do it so the centre provides a really valuable community resource so we just need to keep finding ways to utilise it.”

Over the past year alone, Southbank Rotary Club has staged a number of events at Boyd, including community barbecues, bookmobiles and monthly IT and technology help sessions.

As the club’s new president, Stuart said he aimed to use the position to keep building a sense of community in Southbank and to continue fostering a good atmosphere for his fellow members.

He also said he hoped to continue attracting new members to the club and called on any locals interested in giving back to their community and meeting new people to join.

“I guess the main aim is to create a fun and friendly and welcoming atmosphere for our club and for the members who want to participate and come up with new ideas and other members of the community who want to join us.”

“You do make friends that stick. It’s formed life long friendships and obviously I’ve also got some great friends here at the club.”

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