Remembering the Inner Wheel Australia Conference – Cairns 2019

Inner Wheel Australia 51st Annual Conference, Pullman International Hotel, Cairns

Photographs by Judith Banks, IWC Liverpool Combined.  Words taken from IWA Magazine – Conference Edition

For more information about the Inner Wheel Australia National Project, Cord Blood Research, please click here

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Thursday 10 October – Welcome Dinner was a Nautical Theme, held  on the Daintree Pool Deck at the Pullman International. Dinner was a BBQ buffet, with the tables being arranged in Districts which enabled us to catch up with our friends on the first night.

The Guest  Speaker was Jennie  Gilbert.  Jennie is from the Cairns Rehabilitation  Centre  and  has  devoted  her  life  to  caring  for  all animals.  She finds it most rewarding to watch a healthy sea turtle swim its way to freedom. She has helped nurse hundreds of sick and injured turtles back to health over the past 15 years, releasing them back on to the Great Barrier Reef.  “Some turtles stay anywhere between six months to four years. When one is able to leave the tank, it’s fantastic, because you know you have done a good job”, she said.  “They belong in the ocean and not the tank”.

Jennie  has  spent  a  lifetime  around  all  creatures  great  and  small, including volunteering during her childhood at Sydney Taronga Zoo and carrying out conservation work in Africa.  The  experienced  Zoologist  studied  veterinary  nursing  in  Sydney before going on to open the Marlin Coast Veterinary Hospital in Trinity Beach, Cairns in December 1989. Her fascination with turtles emerged about twenty years ago, when a beachgoer found 52 eggs abandoned on the beach at Trinity Park and brought them into the vet clinic to see if they could be hatched.


Friday 11 October

The day began at 7.30am for District Chairmen, Vice and Junior Vice Chairmen who enjoyed a special breakfast.

Past National President Marilyn Armstrong was MC for the Opening Ceremony and she introduced the Executive, Elected and Appointed Officers and IWA Past Presidents. It was wonderful to have Cairns Foundation Member Iris Forno, aged 105, who is still an active Member of her Club, light the Flame of Friendship. (Cairns Club was chartered in 1961).

Banners were presented to IWA President Robyn and IIW Past President Chris Kirby by the  14  District  Chairmen and the President of Non-Districted Club Canberra-Belconnen.

IWA President Robyn  welcomed all attendees to  the Conference in  Cairns and also  welcomed New Zealand Vice President Dot Anderson-Lee from Invercargill and fellow New Zealanders, who brought greetings from across the Tasman.

IIW Past President Chris Kirby officially opened the IWA 51  Annual Conference. She spoke about the highlights of her year as International President and the wonderful projects being achieved by Inner Wheel Clubs around the world.

IIW President Phyllis Charter sent her greetings and best wishes for the Conference which were read by IIW Board Director Karen Winters who then presented President Robyn with Phyllis’ banner.  National Project Coordinator Barbara Mitchell introduced her District Cord Blood Coordinators and thanked the past team for their work.

Deputy Mayor Terry James from the Cairns Regional Council welcomed us to the beautiful city of Cairns and commended Inner Wheel for the community work done in this country.

The  morning  session  concluded  with  Hope McDowall, granddaughter of Innisfail club member Mary  McDowall, singing “Advance  Australia Fair”.

Later that afternoon a forum was held and members had the opportunity to attend various workshop on different topics.

Gala Dinner

Members enjoyed a semi formal evening with the theme wearing a “Splash of Blue” in the Grand Ballroom of the Pullman International.

Before dinner we were serenaded by the Cairns Chamber Ensemble and during the formal dinner we were entertained by The Vocalettes, Cairns’ answer to The Andrew Sisters.

A61 Past District Chairman Glen Harding lit the Flame of Friendship.  During the dinner, National Representative June Muller made a presentation of three Cord Blood Research Grants to the following Recipients:

Dr Courtney McDonald  –  Adjunct Research Fellow, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University. Her research focuses on how the umbilical cord blood stem cells can be used to prevent or treat perinatal brain injury and is also investigating which stem cell types are found in umbilical cord blood and how these cells can reduce inflammation and contribute to brain repair.

Dr Sam Greenall – Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, is evaluating and testing haematopoietic stem cells utilising umbilical cord blood. His team is using cutting edge technology with a humanised mice platform for cancer immunotherapy research, which hopefully can be applied to all types of cancer.

Dr Alla Dolnikov – Sydney Children’s Hospital, is working to develop a local CAR-T cell therapy program that includes a series of clinical trials with patients with leukaemia and lymphoma. The work is intended to make such treatment in fighting childhood cancers more openly available. CAR-T cell therapy is using the patient’s own immune cell. (Tiffany Tank , Dr Alla Dolnikov’s assistant, accepted the Grant on her behalf.)

Saturday 12 October – Business Session and Annual General Meeting.

President Robyn welcomed us and Secretary Helen Donaldson gave Greetings and Apologies.

Media Administrator Susan Chisholm gave us a very moving power point presentation of members who have passed away during the last twelve months, in “Moments of Remembrance”. They  were honoured by a member of their respective clubs who placed a red rose in a vase. At the Friendship Dinner, the roses were displayed on a raft floating on the pool.

Guest Speaker  Maz Shirmer came to us by Zoom.  Her story is a true life rags to riches story that took many twists an  turns that resulted in her asking questions that sent her on a unique journey of the human mind. She has now had more than a decade of incredible success travelling the globe, during which she became obsessed with understanding why women were not rising beyond a certain level and not able to achieve their dreams, or break through, as she herself has done. Her book “The Maz Factor” is a must read.

Reports from the IWA Executive, National Editor, Public Officer, Conference Co-ordinator, District Chairmen and the President of  IWC Canberra-Belconnen were all read.

General  Business  –    Head  Teller,  Elizabeth  Russ.

There were two Proposals.  No.  1  submitted  by  the  IWA  Governing  Body regarding  Capitation  fees  for adjustment.  The motion was put and lost.

No. 2  submitted by the IW Club of Innisfail, District A76, regarding the re-election of the Club President for a second year. This motion was put and passed.

There were two nominations for Vice President 2020/2021 from Districts A53 and A62.

The 52nd IWA Annual Conference will be held in Wangaratta, Victoria, 14-17 October, 2020.  Cairns Conference Coordinator, Helen Crossley, passed over the IWA Conference Banner to Wangaratta Conference Coordinator 2020 Patti Stafford. A very comical skit with Hobbits, a Ghost, Ned Kelly and somebody who had had far too much wine entertained and encouraged us to be in Wangaratta in October 2020.

A80 District Chairman Anne Shadbolt extinguished the Flame of Friendship

Friendship Dinner

This was a Tropical Theme night on the Daintree Pool Deck with beautiful weather and great food.  As always, the Friendship Dinner provided the opportunity to catch up with friends new and old and say goodbye until the IWA Changeover next year in Blayney, NSW.  We were entertained by Cairns trio Big Noise Band which encouraged lots of dancing.