The countdown is on – Lions volunteers are celebrating 75 years of always being there for the community

From bushfires and floods and even the spread of COVID-19, Lions volunteers are always there for the community and this is the theme as Lions Australia gears up for its 75-year anniversary next year.

With just 12 months to go, the countdown is officially on and volunteers across Australia are kickstarting celebrations in their communities. In coming months many clubs will be hosting special events and the organisation is aiming to plant at least 75 commemorative gardens across the country before the official anniversary in September 2022.

Since the first club was formed in Lismore in 1947, Lions Australia has grown to be the largest service club organisation in Australia, with over 1200 clubs and 25,000 members giving back through an array of community-based programs and initiatives.

Some Lions are on a mission to cure childhood cancer and Alzheimer’s, others to help support those affected by droughts and floods and many are working together to make their local community a better place to live.

Lions Australia CEO Rob Oerlemans says the anniversary is a wonderful opportunity to not only celebrate the impact of Lions over the past 75 years but also recognise the growth and evolution of the organisation as it looks ahead to the next 75 years and beyond.

“From drought, fires and floods to the spread of COVID-19, our country has faced many challenges in recent years, which has really highlighted the power of community service.”

“We are so proud of what we have achieved to date and are well positioned to make an even bigger difference in the future.”

“Our goal at Lions is that the demographic makeup of our clubs matches the demography of the community in which they operate and our organisation has really adapted and evolved over the years. We’re so proud to have a growing number of speciality clubs across Australia ranging from young Leo clubs, virtual clubs, ethnic clubs, special interest and autism clubs and an incredible range of projects and foundations making a real difference in the community.”

“Many clubs are planning special events in their communities in coming months. We are delighted to see so many jumping on board with our 75 commemorative garden project. At Lions, we pride ourselves on doing our bit to nurture our local, national and global environments. It’s one of Lions’ five key global focus areas.”

For anyone in the community interested in doing some volunteering, Rob says it’s a great time to join Lions.

“If you see your local Lions volunteers out and about in coming months make sure you stop by, says hello and see how you might be able to get involved. We know there are many people

out there looking to make a difference in the community right now, and it’s a great time to join us,” says Rob Oerlemans.

Lions volunteers pay annual membership fees to cover admin costs which means 100% of funds donated to your local Lions Club goes directly towards the cause.

Jesmond Lions committed to local environmental conservation

The Jesmond Lions Club in Newcastle, NSW has a proud history in environmental conservation.

In particular, the Club has completed various projects at the Hunter Wetlands. Some of the projects include constructing barbecue shelters, boardwalks, bird hides and seating and planting many hundreds of trees and shrubs.

A major Club project was the construction of a fully-accessible sensory trail and boardwalk in 1994, something that other Lions club in the area were eager to get involved with. The sensory trail was a gift from Lions to the City of Newcastle to celebrate its bicentenary in 1997. 

Other Lions Clubs in the District worked together to raise funds for the construction, and a state government grant was also awarded, bringing the total money raised to approximately $45,000.

The sensory trail features contrasting coloured pathways, vegetation, bridges, boardwalks, windmills, an ornamental creek and a picnic shelter. The plants were chosen for their colour, shape, sound in the wind and feel so that vision impaired visitors could enjoy the experience.

When able to, the club sponsors international exchange students to visit Australia through the Lions Youth Exchange Program. These visiting students have also been encouraged to get involved in projects throughout the wetlands, such as building new breeding huts for the speckled ducks, an endangered species. 

The Club holds its regular meetings within the Wetlands’ beautiful surroundings and helps to run barbecues and other activities during the school holidays.

Another project dear to the heart of the Club’s members is tree planting at Pambalong Nature Reserve near Minmi, where they have planted over 5000 trees since 2012.




Clare Lions Club become recycling champions

South Australia’s wine town of Clare boasts less than 4000 people yet in a few years it has become a household waste recycling capital of Australia – thanks largely to the inspiring leadership of one Lions member – Pat Williams. 

Pat Williams shies away from titles like enviro warrior, yet in little more than a year he and his band of Green Team Lions have dramatically changed the waste disposal habits of many in Clare, 136k north of Adelaide. 

A campaign that began with a couple of pop-up information booths in Clare’s main street now has much of the town involved in a program recycling everything from soft plastics and ink cartridges to household batteries and old mobile phones. 

Not one to hold back, thanks to Pat’s passionate eco spruiking to individuals, businesses and local organisations there has been a giant turn-around in Clare’s thoughts, or lack of them, on recycling.  

Today there are club notices around town guiding locals to 15 drop-off points where items can be left for recycling, and more than 40 locals have signed to support the program. The local council is so impressed it volunteered to reprint and deliver the club’s brochure outlining the program along with rates notices to residents – at no charge.  

As the Club’s Green Team coordinator, Pat, a retired house builder and business manager, is delighted at Clare’s ready acceptance of the program after just a year’s operation – though he had no doubts it would be a winner. 

Pat already had a huge eco reputation in Clare following his Green Team’s involvement since 2014 in a project to re-establish, plant up and promote the local Gleeson Wetlands, now a mecca for naturalists, walkers and bird watchers. 

Note: This story has been adapted from a feature story by Lions magazine editor Tony Fawcett.  

Lions cleaning up their communities

Many Lions members are passionate about nurturing the environment and as an organisation it is one of our key global focus areas.  

Each year hundreds of Lions volunteers participate in Clean Up Australia Day. This year the event coincided with Lions Awareness Day and over 100 clubs hosted clean up Australia Day Events in their community.  

With increased social restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19 and with more people working from home, the event has never been more important to protect and conserve our local environments.  

“This year has seen disruption to our lives, not least of all to our local environments which have been impacted by increased uptake of single-use, disposable items” said Clean Up Australia Chairman, Pip Kiernan.  

Research reveals* more than 1 in 3 (34%) Australian households self-identified as producing more packaging waste during lockdown periods compared to previous years, and more than 1 in 2 (55%) reported they are now more concerned about product packaging waste than they were in 2019. 

In addition to Clean Up Australia Day many Lions Clubs across Australia engage in important environmental work in their communities including tree planting, clean ups and managing parks and community gardens.

Ballina and Alstonville Lions turning waste into cash for the community

Ballina and Alstonville Lions Clubs have partnered with the Ballina Memorial Pool & Waterslide and Alstonville Aquatic Centre Alstonville to ensure less waste goes to landfill and more funds go into the community. 

Return and Earn bins are dotted around both pool complexes where eligible cans, bottles and juice boxes are then collected by the Lions Clubs and cashed in to go towards causes that support the community. Each eligible bottle or container can be cashed in for 10c.  

Because Lions pay an annual membership fee, all funds raised by clubs are donated directly to the causes they support.