The world-wide founder of Rotary, Paul Harris, being 'ambushed' by Hobart Rotary Club members, 1935. He had earlier commented that despite living in Chicago, notorious for its crime, he had never been held up. (Rotary Club of Hobart)

Rotary was founded by Paul Harris in Chicago in 1905, to value the ideal of service as a worthy enterprise. Vocation was established as the basis of membership. Rotary bases its operations around the credo of 'Service Above Self', with its four avenues of service directed towards club, community, vocational and international programmes.

The movement spread to Australia in 1922, with the establishment of clubs in Melbourne and Sydney. In February 1924, following a visit to Tasmania of two members of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, clubs were chartered in both Launceston and Hobart. From these two clubs the movement extended, with the Devonport Club starting in 1928. In 2004 there were fifty clubs throughout the state, with a membership in excess of 1500 men and women.

The community projects initiated by all the fifty clubs are clearly visible in each of our major cities and a majority of country towns. Tasmanian clubs strongly support the Rotary Youth Exchange programme by sending about fifteen students overseas each year, and hosting the same number of international students in Rotary homes. Rotary is very much a 'hands on' community organisation, now in its eightieth year of active service to the Tasmanian community.

Further reading: B Carrick et al, Seventy five years of Rotary service 19241999, [Hobart], 1999.

Robin Hood