Increase text Decrease text Reset text Print Bookmark this page Facebook RSS Feed
Increase text Decrease text Reset text Print Bookmark this page Facebook RSS Feed

The ideals of Rotary

To encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster: First: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service. Second: High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society. Third: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business and community life. Fourth: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service. Click here for the Rotary Basics .

Rotary's Motto 'Service Above Self'


Today, Rotary is well known throughout the world for its dedication to service and international goodwill. Changing the world through service, however, was hardly uppermost in the mind of Paul P. Harris when he founded the organization in 1905. Harris, a lawyer in Chicago, Illinois, USA, had been raised in a rural village in Vermont. He envisioned a new kind of club for professionals that would kindle the fellowship and friendly spirit he had known in his youth.

On the evening of 23 February 1905, Harris invited three friends to a meeting. Silvester Schiele, a coal dealer, Hiram Shorey, a merchant tailor, and Gustavus Loehr, a mining engineer, gathered with Harris in Loehr's business office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago. They discussed Harris' idea that business leaders should meet periodically to enjoy camaraderie and to enlarge their circle of business and professional acquaintances. The club met weekly; membership was limited to one representative from each business and profession. Though the men didn't use the term Rotary that night, that gathering is commonly regarded as the first Rotary club meeting.

As they continued to convene, members began rotating their meetings among their places of business, hence the name Rotary. After enlisting a fifth member, printer Harry Ruggles, the group was formally organized as the Rotary Club of Chicago. The original club emblem, a wagon wheel design, was the precursor of the familiar cogwheel emblem now used by Rotarians worldwide. Refer to 'The development of the Rotary Wheel emblem' page 50.

By the end of 1905, the club's roster showed a membership of 30 with Schiele as president and Ruggles as treasurer. Paul Harris declined office in the new club and didn't become its president until two years later. Club membership grew, making it difficult to gather in offices, so the members shifted their meetings to hotels and restaurants, where many Rotary club meetings are held today.

These early "Rotarians" realised that fellowship and mutual self-interest were not enough to keep a club of busy professionals meeting each week. Reaching out to improve the lives of the less fortunate proved to be an even more powerful motivation. The Rotary commitment to service began in 1907, when the Rotary Club of Chicago donated a horse to a preacher. The man's own horse had died, and because he was too poor to buy another one, he was unable to make the rounds of his churches and parishioners. A few weeks later, the club constructed Chicago's first public lavatory. With these inaugural projects, Rotary became the world's first service-club organisation.

Return to top


Our Rotary International District 9550 covers about 20% of Australia.
- a 1.5 million square kilometre area north of the 21st parallel in Queensland and the Northern Territory (including as far south as Tennant Creek), and Timor Leste, where there is a Rotary Club in Dili. There are nine Rotary Clubs in the Northern Territory, with clubs in Darwin, Nhulunbuy, Katherine and Tennant Creek, while in North Queensland clubs extend from Thursday Island and Cairns in the north to Proserpine and Airlie Beach in the south, and west to Mount Isa. Our District includes the world heritage areas of Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef, rainforests, tropics, and the outback.

District Map

The district family tree was commenced in 1926 when the Rotary Club of Melbourne (established 1921) sponsored the Rotary Club of Townsville. Then in 1930, Townsville sponsored Cairns, and the Cairns Club went on to sponsor Innisfail in 1937.

A further five clubs were established in the 40s, ten more in the 50s, six in the 60s, five in the 70s, fifteen in the 80s and three in the 90s. The year 2000 saw the establishment of a further three clubs and this was followed in 2002 with the addition of Dili and Magnetic Island.

Our District is divided into seven administrative Groups. The Rotary Club of Darwin Sunrise is in Group 1 and comprises all the Darwin, Nhulunbuy, Katherine and Tennant Creek clubs, all within the northern part of the Northern Territory. The Rotary Club of Dili was included in Group 1 in 2002.


The group approach adopted by our district enables much closer linkages between clubs within a defined geographic area. Each group has an Assistant Governor and appointed group representatives for many of the district committees. This devolved structure promotes greatly improved communications within our vast and diverse district.

The District Governor (elected annually) is an officer of Rotary International and is directly responsible for the administration of the district. The district headquarters rotates from group to group usually based on the District Governor's location. Similarly many of the district officers and committees come from the District Governor's group for administrative convenience.

The District Governor makes an official visit to each club early in the Rotary Year to receive and consider the club report on its past performance and intentions for the current year.

Our Group 1 has its own family tree that was started in 1958 when Port Adelaide Club sponsored the Rotary Club of Darwin. Rotary in the Northern Territory got off to a rather slow start with only a further two clubs established in the 60s and one in the 70s. The 80s saw a dramatic leap in interest and activity with six clubs being established (the last being Darwin Sunrise in 1989). The 90s saw no change to the situation and it was generally agreed that the Northern Territory, at that stage, had reached saturation point.

Return to top



Click here to visit the Rotary International website

Rotary International is the world's first service club organization, established in 1905. Rotary is made up of over 32,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Its members form a global network of business and professional leaders who volunteer their time and talents to serve their communities and the world. Rotary's motto, Service Above Self, exemplifies the humanitarian spirit of Rotary's 1.2 million members. Rotarians are drawn from all areas of business and the community. Strong fellowship and meaningful community and international service projects characterize Rotary worldwide.

Rotary is organised at the international, zone, district, group and club level to carry out its programs of service around the globe. A Rotarian is a member of his or her Rotary club, and the club is a member of the association known as Rotary International (RI). Each club elects its own officers and board of directors and enjoys considerable autonomy within the framework of its constitution and the Rotary International Constitution and Bylaws.

Clubs are grouped into 530 Rotary districts worldwide, each led by a District Governor (elected annually) who is directly responsible for the administration of the district. There are 23 Rotary Districts in Australia.

Return to top


Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Return to top