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.  

Riverside Lions build mobile amenities unit for homeless in Launceston

Members of the Riverside Lions Club in Launceston Tasmania have built a mobile amenities unit providing homeless people access to warm showers and a place to wash and dry clothes.

The club saw the need for all community members to have access to a safe space to shower and wash their clothes, so set to work building the unit from the ground up in the club’s own work shed.

The club received a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund and was also supported by a number of local businesses, particularly Samios Plumbing Supplies.

Construction of the unit totaled $25,000 and the club was pleased to have Tasmanian Premier The Hon Peter Gutwein attend the opening.

The unit is located at the Shekiniah House centre for the homeless in central Launceston and is managed and maintained by a team of volunteers.

Oatley Lions Donate $30,000 to purchase neo-natal care unit at St George Hospital

Oatley Lions Club and the Australian Lions Foundation have donated $30,000 towards the purchase of a neo-natal bed for the local St George Hospital Special Care Nursery.

Money was raised through community support of the annual Oatley Lions Village Festival, a $5000 donation by the club’s major sponsor, Oatley Hotel, and the Australian Lions Foundation.

“St George Hospital is so important to our local community and we are incredibly proud to work with Oatley Lions to help care for newborn babies. Oatley Lions are good people doing good work and their fundraising always goes towards the benefit of our community,” said Oatley Hotel owner and licensee Lyn Humphreys.

The new unit will enable continued treatment and care of many newborn babies.

Margaret River Lions fundraise $15,000 to purchase interactive table for local aged care facility

Western Australia’s Margaret River Lions are helping local elderly residents who are battling with dementia.

The club has donated $15,000 to Baptistcare Mirrarnbeena to purchase an interactive table which uses light animation to help with cognitive challenges.

The Tovertafel – also called a ‘magic table’ – was developed in the Netherlands and uses infrared sensors to detect hand and arm movements, allowing people to play games and interact with everything from colourful flowers and butterflies to bubbles and falling leaves.

Baptistcare had tested the technology and felt it would be perfect for some of its residents, but were struggling to come up with funding.

“Then something magic happened,” said Baptistcare’s Lesley Longfield. “Our dear friends at the Margaret River Lions Club saw the Tovertafel in action, and with their usual generosity and community spirit decided to fundraise so we could purchase one for Mirrarnbeena.”

The club’s Vice President Brian Pendergast said members were always keen to support the elderly thanks to a long association with Baptistcare.

“As soon as we saw the faces of the residents who were trialing the Tovertafel, we knew this was something worth getting behind,” said Brian.

Lions mobile skin check and awareness unit aims to reduce prevalence of skin cancer

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, but Lions Clubs in Victoria and Southern NSW are doing their bit to reduce that level and its impact on families.

The incorporated charity, the Lions V Districts Cancer Foundation, launched its mobile skin check van in March 2021.

With over $400,000 raise through the generosity of Lions Clubs and philanthropic donors, the van is now offering free skin check services, especially to those in rural and remote areas with limited access to specialist skin care professionals.

The van is operated by fully trained, certified and professionally supervised volunteers. As it tours around, the unit will be a valuable resource for local people to access not only the skin check, but timely information about skin care and self-checking techniques.

Each Skin Check Unit visit is hosted by the local Lions Club, and full-body skin checks are conducted for the people booked. Fully trained dermoscopists, who operate hand-held microscopes to check over the skin, identify any suspect lesions and refer people on to doctors if any are found.

The van made a special appearance at the recent Lions Australia Convention in Canberra, and was toured by media personality and skin cancer advocate, Deborah Hutton.

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Lions caring for kids in quarantine

COVID-19 may have changed the way volunteers meet and fundraise in the community but one thing that hasn’t changed is the resilience and determination of volunteers.

The community spirit of West Australian Lions volunteers has been brightening up the days for children in hotel quarantine.

Lions Clubs in Western Australia were contacted by the Department of Communities in 2020, regarding concerns around the health and wellbeing of children in quarantine.

Lions volunteers across the state quickly swung into action and raised funds to supply packages of books, puzzles and games tailored to different age groups.

Hundreds of care packages have been delivered to children in quarantine by Lions Clubs in Western Australia.

Several families have contacted the Lions project team to express their thanks and provide comment on the support they have received.

Matthew Morgan and his family decided to move back to Perth after living in Texas for the last 10 years. Children Amelia (8), Jakub (5) and Isabel (3), although excited to celebrate Christmas in Australia, had found it difficult passing the time in their hotel. A couple of days into their isolation there was a knock on the door and Matt was delighted to see three activity packages. The children were ecstatic with their new-found fun, as were the parents.

“We received three amazing packages of toys and books for my kids! They were so excited, and I’m so grateful. I really appreciate the effort taken to put these together and bring them to us, and I’m also really heartened to know that there are people out there who are thinking of us – even if we haven’t met yet!” said Matt.

Mother Martina Ricciardi is isolating with her two-year old son Benjamin and was also very grateful for the surprise gift at her door.

“I feel that the language makes it difficult for me to express how grateful I am for everything you do for the well-being of me and my son. Benjamin woke up today with a big smile and still did not discover the blocks or the bubbles! We have so many things to play and have fun with thanks to everyone who donated,” she said.

The project concept has been promoted to Lions Districts in other States around Australia.

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.

A special dog to assist Australians with Diabetes

Since the 1980s Lions has provided over 600 assistance dogs to deaf or hearing-impaired Australians and now they are on a mission to do the same for those with Diabetes 

Australian Lions Hearing Dogs has recently launched a new medical assistance dog programThe alert dogs will be trained to alert to low blood sugar levels in asymptomatic Type 1 Diabetics.  

The first puppy to be trained in the program has been welcomed into its foster home and is currently completing his training.  The working English Springer Spanielnamed Codyis sponsored by parent Vicki who already has a hearing dog, as does her son.   

Vicki says she looks forward to supporting Cody through the training and seeing the program introduced in coming years.  

“I know first-hand how much an assistant dog can change someone’s life. Many hearing-impaired people like my son and I, can’t hear important sounds such as the knock at the door, a telephone or, most seriously, a smoke alarm. Our assistant dogs provide us with confidence and security. The Diabetes medical alert dogs will do the same for those living with low blood sugar levels. It’s a pleasure to be the foster home for the first Lions Diabetes medical alert dog,” says Vicki.    

There is currently a very high demand for Australian Lions Hearing dogs with an increasing number of Australians suffering from some form of hearing loss. Unfortunately, this number is on the rise, as is the number of Australians living with Diabetes.  

Across the country, 1.3 million people have been diagnosed with Diabetes and 283 people are diagnosed every day. Diabetes has been named one of the Lions’ 5 key focus areas and we are excited to be introducing this new program as part of this commitment.  

Camp Koala – a lifechanging experience for young people living with Diabetes

Across Australia over 1.3 million people have Diabetes and 283 people are diagnosed every day. For young people, living with Diabetes is challenging, not only physically but also emotionally.  

Diabetes is one of Lions key global focus areas and one of the life changing projects launched recently is Camp Koala.  

The inaugural Camp Koala – Type 1 was successfully held for 7 days from 11-17 April 2021 at YMCA Camp Wyuna in Queenscliff, Victoria. 21 Type 1 diabetic teenagers between 15-18 years old attended the camp and benefited from a range of activities, inspirational speakers and the rare opportunity to connect with other diabetics their own age.  

The camp aims to provide attendees with knowledge and tools to promote healthy nutrition and a positive lifestyle while managing their diabetes.  

There were a a range of fun activities to participate in at the 2021 Camp Koala, including canoeing, bike riding, volleyball, basketball, walking, zip lining, tubing, laser tag and boogie boarding. 

During the camp, the young attendees also had access to one on one time with a diabetes nurse educator and nutritionist. Where it was felt necessary the camper’s own diabetes team were contacted for follow up. Campers voluntarily accessed a joint App call “Happy Bob” which monitored their levels. This App had a capability of private communications to each other and very much aided in accessing diabetes self-management. 

Attendees benefited from hearing from Type 1 and family therapist Joe Solowiejczyk who zoomed in from the USA, dietitian and Type 1 Foundation Board Member Julianne Cuthbert and nutritionist Andrea Balog who gave an insightful talk on nutrition, positive body image and confidence. 

The teens were also taken out to dinner to help gain real-life experience in carb counting and ordering from a menu. Many had never eaten out in a formal environment on their own since diagnosis due to a fear of working out injections and found the dinner extremely informative.  

Most importantly, Camp Koala provides participants with the opportunity to meet other young people who understand the challenges of living with Type 1 Diabetes.  

Participants set up an Instagram support page to keep in touch and left a number of positive messages thanking the Camp Koala team for the experience.  

    “For me, the worst thing about Type1 diabetes is the fact that I couldn’t share my experience with anyone because I would feel like a burden, so I stayed silent and let the disease win over me. Camp Koala changed this, from the word go I walked in and I knew things were different, we each connected on a level which I had never felt before and I felt in control know that there was support and safety in those around me. I just felt that the camp provided me with something that no-one in my day to day life could because these people got it. For me insulin is the control but connection is my cure.”” said Lachie Read after attending Lions Youth Exchange & Camps – Camp koala – Type 1. 

The next Camp Koala will be held from 3-9 July 2022.

Australian Lions Foundation committed to helping Lions help their communities

Founded in 1980, the Australian Lions Foundation provides Lions Clubs across Australia the ability to quickly react in times of need, providing financial assistance for community projects and emergency service support to those affected by natural disasters.   

When disaster strikes, Lions volunteers are always there, as demonstrated by the organisation’s vital and ongoing support in helping rebuild communities affected by the recent fires and floods. 

Over $4.6 million has been raised in the Australian Lions Foundation National Bushfire Appeal and Australian Lions Foundation Chairman Tony Benbow OAM confirmed over $4 million has already been distributed to those in need.   

Australian Lions Foundation works closely with Lions’ grassroots network to do whatever it can to assist in making a difference in their communities.  

The efforts of Lions volunteers was recognised recently at the Lions Australia National Convention recently with a particular focus on the incredible impact Lions have and continue to make in supporting communities affected by the Summer bushfires.  

Keynote speaker Rear Admiral Lee Goddard, who heads up the Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative presented a cheque of $130,000 to Australian Lions Foundation to help with its ongoing bushfire recovery support.  

In addition to disaster relief Australian Lions Foundation also provides over 100 grants each year to help Lions clubs fund a range of initiatives and projects in their communities.  

Visit the Australian Lions Foundation website for more information or to make a donation.