Belmont Lions Club Support Local Homeless Community


Many of us take basic hygiene for granted. Belmont Lions Clubs have launched a new initiative to help those who aren’t so privileged.

The Club have recently launched a mobile laundry and shower facility based at Gateway Church in Pelican, available to anyone who needs it.

The service is funded by Belmont Lions Club who raised the money through BBQs and other fundraising campaigns.

In addition to free laundry and shower facilities, volunteers at the Church often provide visitors with food bundles and fresh veggies.

“Our mission of curing hunger and proving warmth, shelter and food all comes together with this project,” said longtime member of the Club, Deidre Schaefer.

The van hopes to bridge the social divide by improving access to basic hygiene for those experiencing homelessness.

Shower and Laundry Van Belmont Lions Club

Deidre Schaefer from Belmont Lions Club with local government members

Currently, it is estimated that there are over 800 people experiencing homelessness in the Newcastle area.

The Club were also able to purchase a generator using a grant awarded by the NSW government, meaning that the van can operate as a mobile service across the country.

“Anyone in need can call us and we are there” said Schaefer.


To learn more about the project, click HERE.



Lions’ Second-hand Furniture Store Reopens in Clare

The Clare District Lions Club are celebrating the reopening of their second-hand furniture shed. The Club donates proceeds from the furniture sales to several local organisations, as well as donating items of furniture to those in need. 

Club members, Doug Booth and Rob Royal write more:

The Clare Lions Furniture Shed has reopened after the Festive season break.

The Shed, located at 2 Harriett Street, will celebrate its third anniversary in June and its success continues to go from strength to strength.

In that time, the shed has donated more than $55,000 from furniture sales to the nearby communities of Blyth, Burra, Auburn and Watervale.

Organisations such as Operation Flinders Foundation and The Wool, Wine and Wheat Country Education Foundation have benefitted from the Shed’s proceeds. In addition, Clare Hospital has received a diabetes testing machine, as well as items of furniture.

The Shed’s history goes back to 2017 when the local thrift shop stopped accepting furniture because the items were often large and heavy, making them difficult to transport and store.

“Almost immediately, there was an increase in the amount of unwanted secondhand furniture being disposed of at the Local Council Waste Transfer Station,” said Shed manager, Dave Simpson, “besides (wasting) furniture, it led to higher volumes going to landfill, which increased costs for Council and, by default, ratepayers.”

The idea of starting up a secondhand furniture shop then developed within the Clare District Lions Club who, after researching secondhand ventures by other groups, decided to give it a go.

With the generous support of a local family, the Club gained access to a large warehouse and office in a prime location, with no lease payment required for the first six months.

“This was enough time to see if would be a success or not,” assistant Shed manager Chris Ballantyne said.

Using a trailer purchased with a grant and members’ personal utes for collections and deliveries, the operation took off.

Officially opened by the Local, State and Federal politicians in July 2019 with great coverage by local media, the Lions Furniture Shed quickly became the place to take unwanted, quality furniture and white goods.

“All items are sold at very reasonable prices, ensuring a speedy turnover,” said Simpson.

Items from the Shed have been donated to those in need through local community care groups such as Uniting Country SA.

“Sometimes (we donated) just one or two items, but on a number of occasions it has been for a whole house; lounge, dining, beds and fridges for families—mostly single mums with children needing emergency accommodation,” said Allan Mayfield, President of Clare District Lions Club.

Throughout 2020, the store was closed for several months due to Covid-19; however, emergency donations and some collections continued. During this period, rent payments were kindly frozen by the owner of the property.

Since reopening, sales have been consistent. So much so that the Club recently purchased a quality secondhand 4×4 ute, removing the need for members to use their own vehicles.

The Furniture Shed is now a big revenue raiser for the club, but it is more than that.

“We have helped many through our donations of furniture. We have especially helped those unable to buy new furniture, such as those starting out on their first home (and) all local ratepayers by reducing land fill costs to the Council, as well as helping our environment,” said Mayfield

“In the store we also sell Lions cakes and have our Recycle for Sight collection bin.  It is our Lion’s Den,” added Simpson.

Volunteering at the shed has become an option for those unemployed or as an alternative to school.  In most cases, working with a great mob of Lions and other volunteers has helped them develop the skills and confidence to pursue paid employment.


The Furniture Shed is open 9:30am to 3:30pm on Fridays and 9am to 12pm on Saturdays. To learn more click HERE.

Diversity, Inclusion & Lions Clubs

Does your Lions club pass the diversity/inclusion test? Tony Fawcett meets a Lion hellbent on changing the way others think of us

Is your Lions club diverse and inclusive?

Do your members all basically look alike, think alike and act alike?

Do you welcome varying opinions?

Or maybe you sit on your hands, run with the status quo, stick with what you know and are comfortable with?

These are the sort of questions Alex Coates has been posing a lot recently.

You see in a Lions first, Alex, President of South Australia’s Lions Club of Salisbury and a GMT team member, has been appointed by C1 District to serve as a Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

His appointment follows the pioneering move by that district in ratifying a diversity statement, a diversity policy and diversity bylaws.

It’s believed to be a first for an Australian Lions district and follows the defeat earlier this year of a proposal by the MD201 Council of Governors at the Convention in Canberra for a national diversity policy.

That proposal failed largely because some voters believe clubs already demonstrate sound diversity and inclusion practices, spelled out in the National Code of Conduct.

For his part, Alex believes the diversity/inclusion message still needs to be spread wider, promoted in the wider community.

His C1 brief is to encourage diversity while reaching out to groups unrepresented in Lions.

While to some it might sound like Big Brother is watching, Alex assures there is no heavy handedness in C1’s new policies.

He believes Lions is already “quite diverse in parts” yet, feels members and clubs can benefit from an awareness of what more can be done.

“It’s just about spreading the message that if your club can embrace diversity and inclusion it would be a good thing,” he says. “I guess it’s about going through club by club and making sure people have got the information.”

Alex Coates - Lions Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Club independence is always paramount, he says, adding that Lions should not “feel obligated to go out and recruit people that absolutely meet different demographics, purely so they can tick a box.”

“It’s certainly not saying to any club you must have diverse members and you must have this and you must have that. It’s about saying ‘just welcome everybody that comes through – they might not be for your club (and if they are not) then refer them to a neighbourhood club. Then it will be positive in bringing in more members to Lions.”

Diversity and inclusion involve far more than seeking members of a multi-cultural background, he contends.

“It could be someone with a learning or intellectual disability but who has the ability to serve. It could be someone from the LGBTIQA+ community. Yeah, it could be a whole lot of people who might look at Lions clubs and say it’s ‘just a load of old white men’ when in reality it’s not.”

Making Lions clubs more publicly visible as being inclusive should be an aim, he contends.

“I certainly believe you can’t be what you can’t see. If you’re someone out there who is a culturally diverse person and you buy a sausage at a barbecue where no-one is culturally diverse, then I guess you may think ‘maybe that’s not for me and I won’t look into that’.”

“Whereas if there is somebody (culturally diverse like you) then you might think ‘oh, okay, clearly it’s an organisation that is welcoming to everybody so maybe I’ll look into it more’.”

Accepting of all

Alex is well credentialed for such a role.
A community liaison officer for South Australian and federal governments since 2005 and a former deputy mayor of the City of Salisbury, he has been passionately involved in community affairs since school days. Currently undertaking two post-graduate studies, he is involved with about 10 community organisations and admits his life is happily hectic. Born in Greenwich, London, he has lived in Adelaide since he moved there with his parents when 13.

Keenly involved in the Rainbow movement and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual (LGBTIQA+) community, particularly in the areas of diversity and mental health, he facilitated Rainbow movement Lions and others taking part in the 2021 Adelaide Pride march.

To his great disappointment, the march was cancelled due to Covid restrictions. It would have been the first time South Australian Lions were officially allowed to bear the association logo in such a march, highlighting the fact “Lions is a diverse organisation accepting of all”.

As a compromise, District C1 joined with other organisations in producing videos of support, which were played at a live event and online.
Notably, C1’s video contribution was the only one coming from a service club.

Salisbury club’s diversity statement

We, the members of the Lions Club of Salisbury respect and acknowledge the diverse community we serve including the traditional owners, the Kaurna people, Salisbury residents from across the world and those born in this country.

We also respect and acknowledge community members with other differences including but not limited to differences of ability, belief, gender identity, outlook and sexuality.

We agree to treat everyone equally with kindness and through our service improve our community.

“We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

– Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a serving Lion

A story of hope

One of the positive things to come out of this lockdown craziness is the opportunity that an increasing use of technology gives us to meet amazing people. 

One of our Lions, who is very interested in helping the Afghan refugees that supported our defence forces, introduced me to Doug Abdiel, an ex-US Marine who now lives and works in Australia.  Like our Lions, Doug saw a need and rather than sit back, decided to do something about it.

Doug spent most of his career as a military officer which took him to Afghanistan and Haiti.  After coming to Australia with his Australian wife, he felt compelled to reach out to the people he had worked with in those countries who were fortunate enough to make it to Australia.  With the help of his very understanding wife, he purchased a paper tube manufacturing company in Melbourne that has employed 25 refugees in the last four years and put over $1M into their pockets.

Although this is not a Lions project, I thought it may be of interest to some Lions members who are close to this issue.

Through the Not-for-profit organisation, “Purpose and Growth”, Doug’s project has three elements to help Afghans that now call Australia home.

Firstly, they have an initiative to provide a simple, discounted laptop to each new family, simple technology to help the family engage with the community for education, business and support.

Secondly, to help newly arrived refugees to get a job.  They provide free, multilingual induction courses, and Purpose and Growth will cover 75% of the cost of certifications required for employment (e.g. forklift tickets).

Thirdly, Purpose and Growth directly helps refugees through employment in a small paper factory in Victoria.

Purpose and growth would love to tell this story of how they employed 25 refugees in the last four years (read here in The Australian). This might be a great opportunity for the next online meeting of your club.

You can find out more about Purpose and growth here.

Rob Oerlemans

Executive Officer

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.

Lions volunteers say thank you to our COVID Healthcare Heroes

Frontline health staff are working under extreme conditions right now, but local Lions volunteers are on a mission to recognise our COVID-19 Healthcare Heroes and they’re asking for the community’s help!

Coogee Lions Club volunteers are working closely with Prince of Wales Hospital to recognise and reward nurses in the COVID ward on a weekly basis.

Healthcare Heroes will be acknowledged for their hard work and will each be presented with a special certificate of thanks and a $50 shopping voucher.

Coogee Lions Club Co-President Sari-Elle Kraemer says the project is a wonderful way for the community to come together and show healthcare workers how much they are appreciated at this difficult time.

“Lions are local volunteers passionate about doing what we can to help others and make a difference in the community. Right now, we’re on a mission to recognise the hardworking frontline healthcare workers who are going above and beyond to look after the community during COVID-19.”

“Many are working longer and more frequent shifts in physically challenging environments, having to perform their role in double layered Personal Protective Equipment and endure the stress and trauma of increasing case numbers.”

“We know there are many others like us who would like to say thank you, so we invite the community to help us. We’ve set up a Gofund me page and each week we would love to give our Healthcare Heroes a $50 shopping voucher or gift to show our appreciation for their incredible work. We encourage the community to jump online and make a donation. The more funds we receive the more Healthcare Heroes we can thank.”

For more information on how you can help thank our COVID-19 Healthcare Heroes visit:

Every dollar raised will go to the Healthcare Heroes.

Heartbreak behind Lions mission of mercy

He might be a reluctant hero but Need for Feed founder Graham Cockerell takes pride in the $30 million hay bail-out for struggling Aussie farmers. Tony Fawcett reports.

Graham Cockerell knows well the heartbreak that can affect Australian farming families.

As an 11-year-old, PDG Graham, founder of Lions-based Need for Feed which in 15 years has delivered $30 million worth of hay to ailing farmers, suffered the loss of his father to farm-related suicide.

The memory and sadness of that event, which forced the selling of the family farm, has never left him.

Looking back on Need for Feed’s phenomenal record in helping drought, fire and flood affected farmers, Graham confirms his father’s death was a catalyst in the project’s 2006 founding.

It was around the 40th anniversary of his father’s death that Graham got involved. “It was the middle of the Millennium Drought and in Victoria, “ he recalls, “we had drought and fires at the same time and there were media reports that three farmers per week were taking their own lives. That all came home to me and I was in a position to be able to help somebody, which I did.”

First off, he delivered a load of his own hay to bushfire-ravaged Cowwarr in Victoria’s Gippsland. “That was going to be all there was to it, but it’s the old story … when I saw the enormity of the problem I felt I had to do something,” he says. “So we rounded up those we thought could help and the starting point was my own (Pakenham) Lions Club.

Before Need for Feed’s launch, Graham was unable to even talk about his father’s suicide. “I just wasn’t able to have a conversation about it,” he admits.

He first publicly revealed details when interviewed on Need for Feed by former Melbourne ABC radio presenter Jon Faine. “I had to go home and tell my grown-up daughters about how my father, their grandfather, died – I hadn’t discussed it with anybody before. But now I’m able to talk to others about it, and we feel that what we are doing is really making a difference.”

Like so many of today’s ailing farmers, Graham says his dad’s suicide was not due to him being a bad farmer. Through no fault of his own he was simply faced with hurdles he felt he could not overcome.

“There are a lot of good farmers out there, and I suppose some bad ones too,” says Graham. “But even the good ones get caught up in events that go for way longer than expected, whether a one-in-100-year drought or the latest floods on the NSW mid-north coast.”

ON THE ROAD: In 15 years Need for Feed convoys have delivered approximately $30 million worth of hay to ailing farmers.

Although reluctantly in the Need for Feed spotlight and ever anxious to deflect praise to his colleagues, Graham takes pride in the project having donated about 5,000 truck loads of hay or 180,000-200,000 bales, the equivalent of about $30 million, in 15 years.

Often a delivery has meant the difference between a farmer walking off the land and not.

Need for Feed has few problems finding volunteers. “It is getting bigger but it’s getting easier to manage in that we’ve got more people helping,” says Graham.

“Once most people try it they enjoy it and they’re hooked and keep coming back to help.”

Two-thirds of volunteers are Victorians, yet now many are based on the NSW mid-north and central coasts with hay runs in nearly all states. Just over half the volunteers are female.

In March the operation had grown so much a specialist Lions club was formed to relieve the Pakenham club. Regular volunteers were approached to become founding members of the Lions Club of Victoria Need for Feed, and of the 30 approached 29 happily joined.

Today Need for Feed is the only fulltime rural aid group among the big five Australian farm charities run totally by volunteers.

News of its efforts has spread wide, with donations from as far away as the US and UK, with 8,000 UK pounds recently donated by young Isle of Mann farmers, to be split between Need for Feed and St Vincent de Paul for bushfire relief.

Now a registered charity with Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status, it provides corporates with a tax deduction when they donate.

Recent activities have been concentrated on NSW flood areas, with a run on average every month.

The project’s biggest run to date involved 90 trucks from Dubbo to as far as the Hunter Valley and the centre-west.

Along with hay, Need for Feed donates care packs and food hampers, including food for our canine mates (every farm has at least one dog!)

At 66, Graham, who runs a garage and spray-painting business with his partner and Need for Feed secretary Claire Johnston, acknowledges he has “probably spent too much time helping others and not enough building up a bank account” – but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Retirement, he says, will have to wait.


To volunteer/donate to Need for Feed, visit

Story by Tony Fawcett.
Feature Image –
FARMERS’ SAVIOUR: Need for Feed founder Graham Cockerell … his farmer father’s suicide was a catalyst in a Lions life devoted to others. Picture courtesy Andy Rogers & The Weekly Times

Lions continue to go above and beyond to help the community through COVID-19

Whilst the spread of the highly contagious Delta strain of COVID has changed how community service groups meet and fundraise, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed and that’s the determination of Australia’s volunteers to make a difference.

CEO of Lions Australia, Rob Oerlemans says he is delighted to see how volunteers across the country are continuing to support their communities through COVID-19.

“At Lions we pride ourselves on the work we do to help others and make our communities better places to live. Right now, our service is needed more than ever.”

“From raffles, sausage sizzles and trivia nights, to environmental work and supporting the deaf, blind and vulnerable, our volunteers are traditionally very hands on and involved in their communities. It’s been wonderful to see so many of our clubs adapting to support each other and their communities through the health pandemic. This continues today, even through the lockdowns and restrictions resulting from the spread of the highly contagious Delta strain of COVID.”

“Lions volunteers across the country have been reaching out to those less vulnerable in their community and offering to purchase and deliver essential goods. We have been seeing many clubs supporting local health care workers through cooking and delivering food hampers to hospitals and vaccination hubs. Some clubs in Western Australia have also been brightening the lives of children in hotel quarantine through delivering care packs with toys and books to keep them entertained.”

“Our Lions volunteers here in Australia have also been doing what they can to support those in need overseas. The Sydney Sri Lankan Lions Club have been doing some incredible work. To date the club has donated over 20 Airvo2 Highflow Oxygen Machines to hospitals in Sri Lanka to help with the country’s fight against COVID.”

Lions encourages anyone interested in getting involved to consider joining their local Lions Club.

“It’s a very rewarding experience to give back to the community and help others in need. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people. Some Lions clubs for example may not be in a position to offer assistance to the community right now but they are determined to keep in touch to support one another. This is one of the many benefits of being a volunteer in a service organisation like ours – you meet other likeminded people in your community and across the global Lions network who often become your closest friends,” says Rob Oerlemans.

COVID EMERGENCY – Indonesia & Sri Lanka! How you can help through LCIF.


HELP our Lions in Indonesia during the pandemic

Although we are all challenged during this pandemic, we are aware of the very dire straits being faced by our colleagues in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. In Indonesia today there were almost 40,000 new cases with over half a million active cases.  Our Lions Clubs in Indonesia and Sri Lanka are doing the best they can to support their communities but they need our help.

Lions Clubs International Foundation has made available a special process to enable clubs to dedicate donations to assist Indonesia and Sri Lanka during this emergency, in the same way that Disaster Grants operate.  In order to ensure that your donation goes to assist Lions in these countries, please follow this special process.

1.    Make your donation to LCIF through your Cabinet Treasurer.  (Donations to the Lions Australia Fund for LCIF do not apply)
2.    Advise your Cabinet Treasurer AND your District LCIF Coordinator that the donation is specifically to assist Indonesia or Sri Lanka during the COVID crisis.

These specific donations will be eligible for Campaign 100, Melvin Jones Fellowship and Lions Share recognition. Don’t forget that a donation of US$1,000 can also be used to acknowledge one of your own members through the LCIF 201 Heroes for LCIF campaign.

LCIF will reserve the funds for Lions in these countries who can apply for matching grants to purchase medical equipment, personal protective equipment and other support.

That’s all you need to do and if you need guidance, your District LCIF Coordinator is always happy to help you.  You will find them on page 14 of your Lions directory!

Need for Feed – Lions delivering for farmers in need

Need for Feed was established in 2006 in response to what was at that time the driest period on record. At that time, reportedly three farmers per week around Australia were taking their own lives and many others walking off the land, unable to cope with circumstances beyond their control.  

Lions member Graham Cockerell, had lost his own father years before to farm related suicide, and didn’t want see other farmers and their families go through the same heartbreak.  

The point is, says Graham, “My father wasn’t a bad farmer, in fact quite the opposite; He found himself in circumstances beyond his control where he could see no other way out”.   

Graham had given away one small truckload of his own hay to a group of farmers burnt out in East Gippsland. When he saw the scale of the destruction and spoke to those affected, he returned home determined to do something about it. He talked to his Lions Club, got them on board and rounded up a group of mates to get involved with the fundraising and finding more hay.  

The Need for Feed team came to the rescue during the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 and have continued on each year through fires, floods and droughts to provide fodder and raising funds to keep the trucks rolling.  

​The response to the latest drought has seen well over 1300 truckloads of fodder worth around 12 million dollars delivered to farmers totally free of charge into all of the eastern states including Tasmania and South Australia, along with more than 700 truckloads with a value of at least $6.5 million for those affected by last summer’s horrific fires. Over 90 truckloads have now been delivered to support those impacted by the current floods with more deliveries planned. 

These deliveries are usually accompanied by household hampers, personal care packs, Lions teddies and toys for the kids, and food for our best mates. Every farm has at least one dog! 

Now in its 15th. Year, Need for Feed take great pride not only in being managed 100% by Lions volunteers but also last year being adopted as a national Project of Lions Australia.  

The core group of Lions members on our committee are involved on pretty much a daily basis with over 200 regular volunteers.