Since joining SI of The Hills District in 2008 I have mainly been involved in our own Club’s activities, projects and fundraising ventures to contribute towards the improvement in the lives of disadvantaged women and girl and sometimes the bigger picture of what Soroptimism is really about is not acknowledged.

Our Club has demonstrated our ability to fundraise over the past few years and it is always immensely satisfying at presentation nights when we hand over cheques to representatives of very deserving organisations and unintentionally fundraising can become our main focus.
With that mindset still firmly in place I went off to the Conference of Clubs in Kuching, Malaysia with my great friend Lesley Lawson, a former President of our Club and recently inducted as NSW Region President not really knowing what to expect. What a difference 3 days can make!
I was completely bowled over by the quality of the speakers who spoke eloquently on “The Push for Women’s Leadership in SWP Countries”, Women as Pioneers in Empowering Roles – The Malaysian Perspective” and “Educating & Empowering Women to Eliminate Violence Against Women”. A difficult decision to decide who was my personal favourite but Mrs Shamima Ali, Co-ordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre really struck a chord with me and the work her organisation is performing in the South West Pacific is truly inspiring.
SI International President, Ann Garvie spoke about the importance of SI’s partnership with the United Nations working to eliminate violence against women and girls around the world. SI International President Elect, Yvonne Simpson emphasised the relevance of program and training. Presentations by May Lamont, Project Manager for “Birthing in the Pacific” and Educate, Exchange Connection Ambassadors showcased the success of both endeavours.
Having managed to avoid Facebook etc. up until now the workshop on Social Media “Building and Recruiting for a Social Cause on Facebook and other Social Media” opened up a whole new world for me and really showed how this can work for us as an organisation. The Branding/Image “Are we projecting the right image?” emphasised that image is not only about how we look but how other people see us. The workshop on Training on Extension “Membership – Use it or Lose it!” was a group effort to come up with ideas on how best to attract and retain new members. Best suggestion on the day came from Carol Davidson from Brisbane Water Club, with a full list of suggestions to be made available at a later date.
Business Sessions covered updating the Constitution with particular attention to clarification on Membership and classification. As delegate for our Club it emphasised to me the importance of “getting it right”.
Theme for the Conference “Uniqueness in Diversity” showcased the finalists in projects undertaken across the Federation. The winner was SI Ipoh (Malaysia) – Edufun whose project provides a safe environment for underprivileged women and children. Projects put forward from the other finalists from Fiji, Townsville, Lae and Mongolia were also very impressive. The dedication demonstrated by our Soroptimist Sisters making these projects a reality is amazing!
Our new Federation President, Carolyn Hudson wrapped up the Conference speaking about challenges for the future – the theme for our next Federation Conference to be held in Sydney in 2016. I can’t wait!
The friendships made along the way, the willingness to share ideas, and the strength and determination demonstrated in the gathering of so many Soroptimists from our South West Pacific Federation makes a powerful statement for the future of our organisation and our common goal to improve the lives of women and children across the world. I go back to our Club a better Soroptimist with renewed enthusiasm for the future.
And by the way the Orangutans were fantastic!

Bev Richardson – SI The Hills District

Carey Lonsdale and Bev Richardson celebrating NSW REgion 1

Carey Lonsdale and Bev Richrdson celebrating NSW Region

President Lesley ProgramUN Liaison Rosemary enjoying Friendship Night Malaysian Style

President Lesley & Program/UN Liaison Rosemary enjoying Friendship Night “Malaysian Style”

Maureen McGiure Siew Yong and Ann Garvie at Siew Yongs home

Maureen McGuire (current SI President) Siew Yong Gnanalingam and then SI President Ann Garvie, prior to the conference

Welcome to the Conference resised

Welcome to the conference

resized Eeufun centre

Children at the Edufun centre, Edufun project provides a safe environment for underprivileged women and children.


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