Mike Ellis was a RAF baby with a father flying Hurricanes and a mother being an instrument fitter. He and his parents emigrated to New Zealand in 1950 (as £10 Poms) where he grew up to become qualified as a motor engineer. In 1960, he joined Tasman Airways (the forerunner of AIR New Zealand) but was, shortly after, called up to the army for National Service. The army, seeing him as better placed in the air force, seconded him there and remained with aircraft for the his career.
In 1970, he Married a Brisbane girl—so ended up here where he built up the hours on his commercial licence and became a flying instructor and senior grade examiner in Adelaide for ten years. He joined a South Australian airline flying Fokker Friendships but the company folded in 1982 and he ended up back in Westlake.
He was the Chief Flying Instructor at the Royal Queensland Aero Club as well as an examiner and tester but he suffered from a kidney stone which resulted in the temporary suspension of his licence. At this time a former pupil who worked on the loss adjusting business asked him to come on board and do aviation loss adjusting and assessing as a crash investigator.
At around the same time, he also ended up with QANTAS flying Boeing 767s; which he did until 2004. The insurance industry is now his main source of income….especially from Papua New Guinea!
Mike told us that statistics show that 98% of all aircraft accidents are due to pilot error and showed some examples of crash investigations/loss adjusting that he had been involved with.
One was in PNG where a Britten Norman Islander landed too far down the runway which was wet grass and had been unable to pull up…resulting in an expensive overshoot of the runway down into the mulga.
He is also acting for the property owners of the crash at Essendon. Whilst the results are not in yet, examination of the engines and propellers show no signs of failure.
He also spoke about the flooding of Murwillumbah airport. Road closures made it impossible for pilots to get their aircraft out in time and eight airframes were immediately written off…only four or five are able to be saved.
Another air crash on the PNG/Indonesian border was caused by an asymmetric propeller condition, i.e., one of the props was misbehaving. The pilot made a decision to return to land but, when using reverse thrust to slow the aircraft down, the propeller went rogue again and the plane slewed off the runway and into a village allotment.
Yet another PNG crash was where the pilot, in thick cloud, misjudged the mountain side and one person survived.
Giving Grannies helps families in need – especially those with new-born babies – with essential items. It came about when Lyn and her husband, Neil, who had done voluntary work at the Wesley Mission in Fortitude Valley since 2008 had seen the need to help, not just with Christmas presents but with everyday items.
In 2012, they set up Giving Grannies and the following year were able to provide ‘Baby Welcome Kits’.
Referrals come from government departments and, more usually, the social workers attached to hospitals since these people are in the best position to see the need. The organization specifically does not discriminate between culture or religion. It works on a needs basis only.
Being a small organization…they work out of Lyn’s home. They have many constraints but, nevertheless, produce around 22 Baby Welcome Kits each month. These kits contain toiletries and clothes. More importantly, the Grannies try to include some clothing, books and toys plus, wherever possible other things such as baby baths etc. Usually, the kits will contain both things that are second hand and things that are new…plus something that is hand-made. Sometimes these kits are absolutely vital in getting the babies home from hospital because authorities are reluctant to allow babies to leave hospitals unless they are satisfied that adequate provision has been made for their care and comfort.
Lyn told us that if a mother had to choose between linen and toiletries and breakfast for her family, it is a no contest – which is one reason why the organization tries hard to provide linen and toiletries. Many is the time that Lyn has seen babies lying on bare mattresses with no sheets because the family simply did not have the wherewithal.
They deal with families where the children are under 4 years old. Any older and Giving Grannies have to refer to other, better equipped and larger organizations.
Lyn acknowledged the support that Giving Grannies gets from a wonderful network of donors and volunteers plus the use of a storage shed to keep supplies in.
Greg is a member of Ipswich City, a club that has recently seen its membership climb from around 40 to over 60.
He told a story which had the moral that not everyone is motivated by the same things What our club was offering might not be attractive to, for instance, tradies and young parents because it was a breakfast club. We should, however, have a target ‘audience’.
But he did make the point that we should look at other clubs and compare ourselves. We might be surprised that some things are being done better in our club. An important feature of all clubs was that they should all be fun. If you look at any group, whether it is within Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce or even the church, the organizations that are growing are those which have fun.
He also made the point that if nothing changes, then nothing changes and that club will become extinct ….because they are doing the same old things. Look for things that are different, look for brilliant guest speakers and bear in mind that guest speakers are potential members…as, indeed, are volunteers who assist in club events.
So do not be afraid to ask for helpers ….Greg called it the Campbell Newman approach!
Greg added that many people do not actually know what Rotary is about and he made the point that, at the beginning, Rotary provided networking opportunities in an age where business was very much ‘dog eat dog’ and no one helped anyone else. Today, we all come with circles of contacts which we should use. We all joined for a reason…don’t be afraid to tell your friends that reason!
Her boss, as of the day before, is Julia Gillard but Marjorie’s main purpose in talking to us was to raise awareness about depression and anxiety. She told us that a common question was ‘How do I get someone to seek help if there is something wrong? 1m people live with depression and those figures equate to 1: 6 women and 1:8 men…not that men suffer less from mental issues, just that it is under-reported in men! Similarly, 2m people suffer anxiety with figures showing 1:3 women and 1:5 men will suffer….more under-reporting!
The most common suicide risks are elderly men, young men and people living in a rural community.
Marjorie took us through a number of signs of depression but, basically, if you feel tired, have a different sleep pattern, or have significant weight gain or loss, these can be physical signs. Your feelings, such as unhappiness, being overwhelmed or irritable may also indicate issues and your thinking may also reveal symptoms as may your behaviour. For instance; not getting things done, taking lots of days off or turning to alcohol could be indicative of depression.
For anxiety, the physical signs often appear similar to a heart attack whilst one may also feel fearful or suffer a panic attack. Behaviour may also change and include poor concentration and difficulty in decision making. Marjorie made the point that no one is immune to these health issues and they can impact on physical health (and vice versa). The point also made is that the sooner help is sought, the easier and more effective treatment will be.
A further point made was that it is vital to maintain connections with family and friends. Social interaction is very important Marjorie noted that we should eat well and try to develop good sleep patterns, improve our sense of worth and also take regular exercise.
Sonni noted that Germany is within Europe, a continent of 740 million people in nearly 50 countries speaking 28 different languages. Germany, itself has 82 million people living in a country which would fit into Australia 20 times! Her home is Bochol which has a population of only 80 thousand.
She has one brother, Mickey, who is coming up to 16 years old. There had been an elder brother but he was killed in a car accident when he was ten years old. Her mother, Jutta, and father, Wolfgang, have divorced. Sonja and her brother live with Jutta and her boyfriend whilst Wolfgang lives in Poland with his girlfriend. One result of this is that Sonni does not get so see her father very often.
Although we often think of the western world as relatively homogeneous, Sonni was amazed at the number of differences between Australia and Germany….starting off with the rather dark subject of death! (Sonni has had a holiday job for some time working for an undertaker in the school holidays so this is one of her expert subjects!). She noted the difference in urns, coffins, hearses and even grave yards and the fact that you are not allowed to scatter ashes in Germany; nor would you ‘celebrate’ funerals on Facebook!
We all know of several differences between European and Australian schools but the school uniform came as a bit of a shock to Sonni as were the school campuses which are generally bigger, more spread out and with several buildings and sports grounds. Sonni got lost early on! Whilst sports are generally part of the school curriculum here, all sporting activities are generally after-school activities run by specific clubs where Sonni comes from.
She was also interested in the many varieties of football available here . Football in Germany means only soccer!
Other things that caught Sonni’s eye were the size of the trucks on Queensland roads, the fact that no one uses a fountain pen in Australia and the drinking age in Germany v. Australia which might account for the drinking culture here where young people go out and get off their faces!
Our streets have many more Asians than she is used to in Germany but far fewer people smoke here than in Germany. The streets on Saturday nights seem quieter to her whilst Sunday mornings seem much busier!
Sonni has a bucket list of things to do and most seem to have been ticked off. However, when asked about herself, she noted that she could be a bit direct but that sincerity was a strength. With three years left at school, Sonni hopes to study psychology at University.
Kara Gerritsen – The Risk of Heart Disease and Life after a heart attack
The Heart Foundation strives to reduce heart attacks. There is one heart attack every 10 minutes in Australia and heart disease is the biggest single killer. The message of the Foundation is about how to prevent heart disease and how to manage after heart attacks.
Early signs of disease have been found in children as young.as 15 or 16 and many men show signs in their early 30’s. Kara told us that the factors contributing to heart disease are grouped thus: Lifestyle, Biomedical and Psychological. Factors that contribute fall into two main categories,: those we can control and those we cannot.
We cannot control gender, age or genetics but we can control smoking, diet, weight and alcohol consumption. Most biomedical issues were invisible; e.g.. Cholesterol. Depression, social isolation and a lack of quality social support are also contributing factors.
One cause of heart attacks was atherosclerosis which is the build up of fatty plaque. This constricts the arteries and, in particular the coronary arteries which supply the heart itself with blood and nutrients. Early signs include Angina which is not the same as a heart attack but could be an early warning. Sometimes, a lump of plaque chips off and the body’s immune response causes blood clots to form which, again, constricts blood flow to the heart muscle and leads to a heart attack. With good lifestyles, heart attacks may be 80% preventable.
There are a large number of tests that doctors have available: Blood tests reveal a particular chemical in at risk patients; Electrocardiograms (ECG) check for irregular electrical pulses under stress testing; Echocardiograms see how well the heart is working; angiograms use a special dye to test whilst X-rays are also useful.
After a heart attack, it is vital to undergo cardiac rehabilitation—an important part of recovery. This covers physical, sexual, emotional and psychological changes and dietary advice and involves the patient, family, friends and carers. Rehabilitation can be carried out anywhere – home, hospital or community centre and can also be done over the phone or internet. Health disease is a chronic condition but can be managed for a healthy life.
Judy is the foundation president of the Kenmore Historical Society which has produced a small book about the area.
The Kenmore area, including Chapel Hill, Fig Tree Pocket and Pullenvale, really stared in about 1850 when the area was surveyed and lots sold off. The industry of the area had been logging and trees were taken to Rafting Ground Road (now Rafting Ground Reserve) for transportation on the tide of the Brisbane River to Pattison’s Saw Mill.
Farming took over and numerous crops were produced including sugar, pineapple and even cotton during the American Civil War. Poultry farms also abounded.
Judy showed pictures from the archives of a number of important buildings including the original Methodist Chapel, – built in 1874 and still existing—the Presbyterian Chapel which also still exists although moved from its original location. The Water Trough and First World War memorial have been moved several times (now near Coles).
Up until 1929, the Orange Lodge Hall was used for meetings and other community purposes but was destroyed by fire….water not being available to save it! It was replaced by a new hall which became a centre for dances in the 1930’s at which up to 400 people would attend.
Judy also showed us pictures of the first service station (1938) and several of the original homes, one of which was Kenmore Park House—after which the area was named. (1880) as does Spinkbrae (1880) which was home to the Gibson family who had 50 acres down to the river.
There were a number of photos to illustrate fashions of the time. One was of a family in mourning in 1916. Mourning was traditionally expected to last six months and the women always wore black for the duration. However, the Government tried hard to shorten this time for obvious reasons…it would have been all too depressing!
There was a picture of people swimming in the river, wearing woollen togs—uncomfortable and heavy—utilitarian fashions in the 1930 following the Depression and some more fashionable clothes from the Ekka in 1950.
Pictures of early schools (1871) were also shown and Judy included a story about the local postman who rode his horse to the Fig Tree Pocket School to give the children the mail for their parents.
The last picture was the building of the Centenary Bridge and the Western Freeway in 1963 and this drew much interest from the members who tried to pick out landmarks.
Megumi Ono or Megoo comes from Hyogo which is relatively near Kyoto. She is hosted by the Rotary Club of Sunnybank Hills. Her counsellor is PDG Anne Brand. By comparison, Hyogo has more twice the population of Brisbane at 5.5m cf 2.3m in Brisbane but has half the area.
She is currently studying a masters degree in Business Studies at Griffith University.
Her original degree in Japan is in architecture (undertaken solely, it appears, because she wants to design her own home!). Megumi noted that the actual degree tends to be irrelevant when you join a large company as you rarely get any choice of job…the company decides where it wants to place you and, in Megumi’s instance, she ended up in internal audit. This necessitated a quick Google search on what, exactly, internal audit was! Without mathematics or accounting, the next year or so proved somewhat challenging!
The company Megumi works for is Rakuten. This company operates world-wide with about 10,000 employees, one third of which are non-Japanese representing 69 different countries.
Each week, the office where she worked holds a meeting of all staff. At one particular meeting, someone had organised for a team of cheerleaders to come in and entertain the troops. However, at least one employee obviously thought that very short skirts and crop tops were inappropriate for the company meeting, especially given the reaction of some of the men. As Megumi was to find out, internal audit also involved trying to improve the work environment so Megumi ended up getting involved in the mediation and conciliation of this complaint. What this led to was for Megumi to question the status of women in developing countries, particularly in jobs and schooling. But there are implications for Japan with its aging society in its sexist and ethnicity attitudes. In this, Megumi noted that Australia appeared much more progressive.
But Megumi noted several other differences. She loved a vending machine that dispensed thongs…so Australian! But bottled water was expensive. She noted the differences in cigarette packaging and cost…Australia the way to go here! In general Japan was far more regimented and Australia more mechanized. And she missed the 24hr convenience stores! Toilets (very different and automated) and students having to clean their schools instead of employing cleaners were other differences
Immigration was something else. Australia had 168.183 immigrants last year, Japan‘s figures are not available (possibly because there were no immigrants!) but 2,307,388 foreigners live in Japan.
The programme was held over three Sundays and covered a huge amount of information. At its basic, it is a grass roots multi-district level development programme designed to develop potential leaders within Rotary, i.e. all those who may take any office both within their club and elsewhere.
Part I looked at various insights into leadership, the Rotary world and certain programmes within Rotary.
Part II looked at strategic planning. Team building and attracting members.
Part III took in opportunities, effective leadership strategies, public image and public relations and building a stronger club.
Because the Rotary Foundation is such an integral part of Rotary, all three sessions also contained some aspect of the Foundation.
Dianne was struck by the way the participants represented a full range of both clubs and membership: from clubs with over 40 members to clubs with less than 10; from people who had only a few months service to those who had several years, from those who held no office to those who had some experience.
Dianne also liked the mix in that some topics were just presentations whilst others were open discussions, workshops, information sharing and hands-on stuff.
Plus…the morning teas and lunches were top rate (but of course!).
Dianne thought that this was a great programme for those setting out on their Rotary Journey and she gained a great deal of information about ways in which to improve the club and about her potential contribution.—an opportunity to reflect how she fitted into the organization.
Dianne enjoyed the networking opportunities, especially with those embarking upon the same journey as her. It has helped to reinforce the goals of Rotary both internationally and locally and has led to Dianne wanting to start a mentoring programme for new members.
A common theme from Fijian Indians is that India can be a dirty place so Stephen decided that Sri Lanka might be better place …and so it proved. Adele told us that she was agreeably impressed by Colombo.
But there were a couple of trials and tribulations before they got there….such as a young female passenger suffering flight phobia and the plane having to return to the gate (at a cost to the airline of around $1,000 per minute!), an in-flight screen falling on Adele’s leg, badly bruising her shin (the injured Adele got 5,000 frequent flyer points for that as did the uninjured Stephen) and a minor discrepancy in Adele’s visa resulting in an interview with the Sri Lankan Chief Immigration Officer (easily sorted!).
Sri Lanka has a population of 21m with an average income of $10,000 pa. But this includes those in the city as tea pickers receive $7.50 per day plus housing and schooling.
Adele and Steve enjoyed Colombo but noted the massive Chinese investment in the harbour—designed to by-pass the expense of Singapore.
On their tour some of the highlights included:
Anurhadapwa—a UNESCO world heritage site containing a Buddhist Stupor—an earth filled mound covered with bricks and painted…a Buddhist symbol.
Sigiriya—an ancient kingdom
Kaudello Eco Park with its herd of 800 elephants and with washerwomen nonchalantly sharing the water with crocodiles. Some local villages still have elephants chained up for tourist rides but this is declining.
Dambulla with its five caves, all with figures carved out of the rock walls within each cave.
Kandy Cultural Centre with its colonial past and features and a lake full of fish but which no one catches because it is against Buddhist faith to do harm.
Some four and a half hours up to the mountain is Nuware Eliya or little England where they visited a tea plantation. No, it wasn’t Dilmar because Dilmar does not actually have any tea plantations…anywhere! It was here that Adele and Steve became expert tea sorters.
One thing they noticed was how much cooler it got. Another was that, whereas urban trains had hundreds of people hanging off the side of the carriages, only one person hung of the side on their train (probably because 4½ hours is a long time to hold on!).
They also visited Yala National Park where they saw leopards…something that very few Sri Lankans have done.. and also a huge amount of other wild life including water buffalo and mongooses who were quite unafraid of tourists.
They were delighted by Gallle with its mix of Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture. The old Portuguese harbour walls actually saved Galle from most of the effects of the tsunami.
Finally, they visited the Rotary Club of Colombo which was having a cluster meeting of nearby clubs including the Rotary Club of the Maldives, a 40 minute flight away. Whilst they were amongst the speakers, they felt somewhat upstaged by one member who had just climbed Mt Everest! – 60% physical and 40% mental effort!