Decade 2000-2010. By Jane Zimmerman and Lorna Mead

A new era,  it seemed that the whole world stayed up to welcome in the new century,   What would the first decade of the 21st Century bring to Soroptimists of the South West Pacific, it was a decade of technological evolution for SISWP but also a transition in Federation governance.

The final meeting of the Federation Council which comprised Region representatives as the decision makers was held in Perth in 1998. The new governance structure saw the National Representatives assume management of the Federation and lead us into the next century.

The SISWP website, that had been launched at the Hobart Conference in 1996 continued to evolve.
Email communication increased dramatically during this decade.

Federation Headquarters moved from the cramped quarters in Macquarie Street to spacious new premises at 99 York Street.

 HQ SWP past presidents residezed

 Past Federation Presidents, clearing out York Street premises for move to the new headquarters. 


In the last decade of the 20th Century the Federation established many vibrant clubs in Malaysia with more chartering in this first decade of 2000.

At the turn of the Century, Federation extension eyes turned towards Asia and there was exciting expansion with the establishment of SI Mongolia, later renamed S.I. Ulaan Bataar, when a second Club was chartered in Darkhan 2005.

Cambodia prepared for their first club which saw SI Phnom Penh chartered in 2010..

While SI Hong Kong had transferred from SIGBI in 1997, the Federation had been developing a relationship with the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) in the hope re-establishing Clubs in mainland China.

As part of SWP’s evolution, several Friendship tours were organised in association with the SI Presidential Appeal “Legacy of Learning” which became a significant activity in the far northern “Semi-Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia of China”.

The A.C.W.F. and the Inner Mongolia (China) Women’s Federation were our official partners, and these project partnerships heralded the start of a strong working liaison between SWP and China’s leading women.

The project provided 3 years of educational opportunities and income generation training for mid-school girls from background of poverty and disadvantage. Over 700 girls benefitted and there were ceremonies in 2004 and 2007 with Soroptimists from our Federation in attendance.

There were exchange visits, with the ACWF attending SI Convention (Sydney 2003) Federation Conference (Gold Coast 2010). In addition to the Legacy of Learning project activities there were international NGO meetings in China. The real link between China and Soroptimist International is not new – SI had clubs in a number of cities in China prior to WW2. Hopefully the relationship with Chinese women will be reinstated in a “friendlier” future.

Jane Legacy of Learning. 1      Legacy of Learning China 2002 1


Then SI President Jane Zimmerman, with girls who benefited from the Legacy of Learning project. Photo on right both Lorna Mead, Ralda Forzin and Jane Zimmerman


S.I. and ACWF Sydney 2003

Image of Soroptimist International members with members of the ACWF at a meeting in Sydney.

New members bring new life, and a new beginning as we enter the 21st century,  the decade was busy with 12 club charters., pictured is the charter of SI Darkhan (2005)  

CLUB CHARTERS decade 2000-2010

2000 SI Mongolia 2000 (now Ulaanbaator) Charter SI Darkhan 2005 1
2000 SI Johor Bahru (Malaysia)
2002 SI New Plymouth@Mission (NZ)
2005 SI Darkham (Mongolia)
2005 SI Logan (South Qld)
2006 SI Brisbane Waters (NSW)
2006 SI Singapore Garden City (Singapore)
2007 SI Seremban (Malaysia)
2009 SI Maylands (West Australia)
2009 SI Ipoh (Malaysia)
2009 SI Sentul (Malaysia)
2010 SI Phnom Penh (Cambodia)

During the decade 5 Soroptimists stepped up to lead the Federation. 

SWP presidents during decade 2000-2010.
2000 – 2002 Joanne V. Fernandez (Malaysia)

2002 – 2004 Elaine Moffat (New Zealand North)

2004 – 2006 Eileen Mitchell (South Queensland)
Biennium theme "Together we can make a difference".

2006 – 2008 Lorna Mead (North Queensland).
Biennium theme “Action now. Empowerment tomorrow”.

2008-2010 Leigh Ellwood-Brown (South Queensland).
Biennium theme Millenium Development Goals + 10 (MDG = 10)

Conference held during the decade

Sotoptimists love to get together, renewing and starting friendships, re connecting with the work underetaken throughout the Federation to improve the lifes or women and girls, opportunities to listen and learn from leaders and experts and attend workshops to inspire us to go back to our clubs and communities and deliver life changing projects for women and girls.  Conferences were held in the following years. 

2000 TOWNSVILLE NQ. Margaret Lobo (outgoing)  2008 Chiang Rai Conf
Joanne Fernandez(incoming)
Theme “Stand Up and Be Counted”

2002 KUALA LUMPUR Joanne Fernandez (outgoing),
Elaine Moffat (incoming)

2004 WELLINGTON NZ. Elaine Moffat (outgoing)
Eileen Michell (incoming)

2006 BRISBANE, Queensland. Eileen Mitchell (outgoing)
Lorna Mead (incoming)
Theme “Your Voice, My Voice, Our Voice”

2008 CHIANG RAI, Thailand. Lorna Mead (outgoing)
Leigh Ellwood-Brown (incoming)
Theme “A Journey of Understanding “

2010 GOLD COAST, Queensland, Leigh Ellwood-Brown (outgoing)
Yvonne Simpson (incoming)
Theme “Leading the Way”

 Right is the 2008 Chaing Rai conference

2009 Conf.malaysia resized

 Above the  2002 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia conference.  

Federation Projects;

Clubs are invited to nominate a project for a Federaton project,  funding is provided by members donations. 

A hospital-based centre offering clinical and counselling services for all victims of sexual and family violence. Partnered with SI Lae.  The centre was established at the Angau Memorial General Hospital in Lae. 

Extract from a report in 2005 "Family Violence is a major social problem in Papua New Guinea. The establishment of a Women's and Children's Support Centre at the Angau Memorial General Hospital in Papua New Guinea. The support centre is now equipped and staffed with a Director - Anastasia Wakon and support staff. A committee of Soroptimists from the Lae club, local NGO's, Service Clubs and Community Development Agencies are actively assisting with the project.

If you would like to view a powerpoint presentation of the project, pdf click here (2.13 MB)

Lae.10       Lae.7

SISWP President Elaine Moffat visiting the centre.  and Right the building of the centre


Strengthening infrastructure in a disadvantaged village, providing new resources and funding to give the community in Sampovloun (Cambodia) a step up the development ladder. School and hospital facilities, toilet blocks, sanitation, power and water were integral to the project’s success, partnering club was SI Dusit (Thailand).  Extracts from a report in 2008 -  Continued support of families in the village with basic health assistance and food.  Two bicyles were purchased to enable women to get to work.  Funded a well.  Upgrade of the maternity ward and delivery suite, Upgrade of STD clinic, provision of water filters to hospital wards.  New well for the hospital. Continued dialogue with the Sampovloun Hospital Director for continued improvement.  


The Team Frankie      50 Gifts from NZ

Lynn Ciurlionis (centre in blue) Project Manager and soroptimist members taken during a week where Soroptimist volunteers worked at the school and right receiving boxes of gifts from New Zealand soroptimists.

To view a power point presentation on the work undertaken at Sampovloun  pdf read here, (2.65 MB)   to read a blog about a revisit to the school in 2019 read here

SI Presidents and SI’s International projects
1999-01 Jane Zimmerman SWP Project.“Legacy of Learning.China”
2001-03 Irmeli Torossen SI E Project “BuildingPeace.Rwanda”
2003-05 Joan Cromer SI A Project “Children of Dust. Vietnam.”
2005-07 Lyn Dunning SI GBI Project “Punjab. Pakistan.”
2007-09 Margaret Lobo SWP Project “ pdf Fistula Hospital.Ethiopa (334 KB) .”
2009-11 Hanne Jensbo SI E Project “Hopes/Dreams for Everyone. Moldova.”


SYDNEY 2003, SI President Irmeli Torronsen SI E. (outgoing)
SI PE Joan Cromer SI A. (incoming)

GLASGOW 2007, SI President Lyn Dunning SI GBI. (outgoing)
SI PE. Hanne Jensbo SI E. (incoming)



1999-2001. “Legacy of Learning.” Jane Zimmerman SISWP.
Educational opportunity for girls in China’s Inner Mongolia, 740 girls given training and income generating opportunities.
Partnered with All Women’s China Federation.  Read more here

2001-2. “Building Peace Among Children” Irmeli Torossen SI E.
Project was initially in Rwanda. Project was to train women and girls in Africa as “peace ambassadors”.
Partnered with World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

2002-3. “Continuum of Care” Irmeli Torossen, SI E.
Working to support HIV patients in Ukraine, and especially who were mothers, to avoid transmission to their babies.
Partnered with Medecins Sans Frontieres.

2003. “The Dignity Programme” Joan Cromer SI A.
Helping women in Paraguay move from poverty to independence. Project for the people of Paraguay, - about economic disparity, education, and training.
Partnered with PPP.

2003-2005. “Dust of Life”, Vietnam. Joan Cromer. S.I.A
Creation of educational opportunities for 500 forgotten Vietnamese orphans in a shelter in HO Chi Minh Youth Shelter.
Partnered with Children of Peace International.   pdf Read more here (245 KB)

2005. “Roll Back Malaria” Lyn Dunning, SIGBI. Shielding women and young children from Malaria in Benin, Africa. Provision of insecticide impregnated nets.
Partnered with UNICEF/World Bank/UNDP initiative.

2005-2007 S.I. Project Punjab. Lyn Dunning. GBI.
Teacher training and Kits, essential schools/furniture. Rehabilitation Water pumps. Rural, impoverished areas of Punjab. Six schools in 5 communities benefited, initially 560 children, 40 teachers, growing to 1,500 children (90% girls) by the end of the two-year project.
Education project with 3 local partners NGOs in Pakistan.

2007-9 “  pdf Restoring Dignity. (334 KB) ” Margaret Lobo SISWP.
Securing a future for women in Ethiopia suffering from obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula is a medical condition, occurring due to prolonged or obstructed labour, resulting in a tear between the vagina, bladder or rectum.
Partnered with Dr. Hamlin’s Fistula Hospital.  pdf Read more here (334 KB)

2009-11“Hopes And Dreams for Everyone.Moldova.”
Hanne Jensbo. SI.E.
Prevention human trafficking by providing life-skill education and sustainable living conditions for vulnerable children. “Action Speaks Louder than Words” A continuation of project initiated by SI union of Norway.

Partnered with “International Organization for Migration”, and ”The Child Rights Information Centre”, Moldova   pdf Read more here (123 KB)

2010, “Funding the Future” Hanne Jensbo. S.I.E.
Soroptimists for Education and Leadership.


1999 -2003 pdf "Limbs for Life (6.30 MB) " Helene van Themsche, SI E.
Mine removal, trauma/injury support. Anti-personnel landmines indiscriminately kill and wound civilians, mainly women and children.
Partnered with IRC –( International Committee of Red Cross.)

2003 -2007 “Project Independence” Bosnia and Herzegovina
Partnered with “Women Survivors of War

2007 -2011 “ Project SIerra
Peace Initiative - Aimed to transform lives of some of most deprived women and children in the world.
Partnered with International Hope and Homes for Children

“PROJECT 50” activities by SI.
A 2005 book on Project 50 lists 23 collaborative projects in 18 countries. SI remained the strongest partner of all 5 partners until Project 50 closed next decade. The goal of Project 50 was to empower women worldwide.

Three SWP based projects this decade were ;

YALU, PNG. Education through a PNG Community Learning Centre (CLC) with the goal of Literacy and holistic Community development for rural women and girls.
Partnered with SI Lae, PNG.

KLONG PAK BANG, Phuket Thailand.
Post Tsunami 2004, Project 5-0 was initiated on the banks of the Patong
River in Phuket. Many lives, homes and livelihoods were impacted, as this riverbank fishing village suffered severely.
Partnered with BPW, Phuket.


PNG Yalu Village Project 50 nov 2005 1        SAMOA Project 50 1

Above left PNG Yalu Village Project 50 nov 2005 - 1   Above right Samoa Project 

APIA, Samoa.
Home economics, teaching women basic skills for income generation and lifelong skills. (ongoing - commenced 1994)
Partnered with SI Samoa.


Throughout the Biennium, clubs generously supported projects locally, nationally and internationally. Not all were part of SI’s official project activities, but reflected significant activities (mainly natural disasters) evoking supportive responses by our members. Earthquakes, floods, refugees, droughts, tsunamis and terrorism activities all came to the attention of members. Some were;


PNG Drought $ 1,411.00
Turkey Earthquake $ 2,743.00
India Earthquake $ 579.00
East Timor $ 706.00
Afghan Refugees $ 400.00
PNG Tidal Wave $ 617.00
Solomon Islands $ 400.00
Mongolia Relief $ 165.00
Sept 11 Disaster $ 746.00
Afghan Refugees $ 250.00
PNG Tidal Wave $ 125.00
Bali $ 2,875.00
Gomo $ 600.00
Fiji Floods $ 182.00
Fiji Earthquake $ 257.00
Tsunami Aceh. $391,301.00

SI Thailand (2 clubs) transferred from SI GBI to SWP in 2003.
SI Bangkok (1977) and SI Dusit (1982), chartered by SI GBI, transferred into SWP 2003 for geographical association, and now are active contributors to our Federation as well as the wellbeing of their communities.




Copy of houses
Banda Aceh in northern Sumatra/ Indonesia was devastated in 2004 by a tsunami, which killed over 250,000 people.
During 2005, members of SI Jakarta were responsible for rebuilding of Lamreh Village (200 homes, school, markets, infrastructure and public community facilities This project is a remarkable model example of Soroptimist service in action. It is recorded that SI SWP clubs alone contributed nearly $400,000). Huge international support was spontaneous, and the Netherlands Red Cross with other NGOs were major supporters. Soroptimists individual as well as clubs and nations globally provided financial support. Activities by the club continued for 2 years by which time, the Lamreh Village project established housing, community facilities, schools, medical centre training and scholarships. Water, sanitation and power were all part of this astonishing activity initiated by a small club. Well done SI Jakarta.

“We were just 17 women who wanted to help.
We set out to raise $1000. We raised over $1 million.”

  pdf Read more stories (4.32 MB) about the rebuilding of a whole village, community centre, school and emergency centre., picture left are some images of the completed homes. 

Soropti Sheep
Soroptimists in Mongolia worked with vulnerable herder women and their families, who were threatened by climate change, subsequent droughts, extreme cold with subsequent loss of their sheep, goats and cattle. Provision of sheep and goats created secure livelihoods and security for these isolated women. Financial support arrived from many international clubs. S.I. Mongolia (now Ulan Batoor) initiated this local activity which drew attention globally.


SI SWP’s New Headquarters.
Originally a Council of the South West Pacific in SI GBI management, SI SWP was chartered in1978. Being without an official office, we operated on a shoestring out of various locations provided by generous members.

In 1979 a decision was made to acquire a permanent location in Sydney. In 1983 our first location was in Macquarie Street, until financial support from members within the NSW region made it possible to move into 99 York Street, October 1999. The old Macquarie Street office was sold, and thanks to hardworking volunteers, and benevolent clubs with generous members, our level 10 office of significant size became our home with our HQ officer, Marilyn Black, at the helm.
Mid-decade, a new officer, Rosheen Halloran took over the role until the end of the decade.
Following our relocation, the extra space at HQ meant that NSW volunteers could assist with the packing and despatch of magazines, mailings and shop items, becoming a hive of activity.

SWP’s representatives continued to take its annual place at the International Board meetings at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, UK. SWP also participated annually in the CSW (Commission Status of Women) Conferences in New York, as well as some Regional UN meetings when appropriate.

S.I. Board Windsor. 2004. All Federation resized 2s

Full SI board taken at Windsor 2004

Changes occurred within Australia’s now official structure of SI Australia. The merging of regions created new alignments when Green Triangle, Southern Highlands, Monarco and Riverina merged with neighbouring regions.

Friendship Grants by clubs and regions continued during the decade, although in diminishing numbers. They were an excellent way for understanding and global friendships.

Editors for the SWP magazine changed. Initially Marlene Brook held the editorial fort at the start of the decade, followed by Kerry Garrett, with Yvonne Simpson at the end of the Decade. The online SWP newsletters now have entirely replaced the hard copies which provide tangible evidence of our diversity of activities when recruiting new members.

Overall, the decade was a consolidation of membership changing in character through diversification and growth into new SWP countries. This move empowered new faces into responsibilities leadership.

Emerging leaders from these countries now are taking their place in SWP.