Active Membership may taken up by the following provided that they are over 18 years:
- Women related to Rotarians/former Rotarians
- Women related to Inner Wheel members/former Inner Wheel members
- Women who have been invited to join – provided that a majority of the Club members agree
The International Inner Wheel Governing Body and National Governing Bodies may also invite a distinguished person whom they wish to honour, to become an Honorary member.
Clubs should always operate according to the Constitution and By-Laws.
A Brief History
Rotary was formed in 1905 in Chicago and soon spread to other countries. By 1914 there were eight Rotary Clubs in the British Isles. Before becoming a constituted organisation, the wives of the Liverpool Rotarians in England had assisted their menfolk during World War I with various projects and had become known as Rotary Ladies. They later called themselves The Service Club.
Many similar Clubs under various names were formed to help Rotarian husbands. However, it was the Manchester Club which in 1924 provided the name and model rules upon which the Inner Wheel movement is based. Our Emblem is a small wheel contained within the Rotary Wheel, hence the name Inner Wheel.
At an early stage in its existence Inner Wheel began to spread overseas and in Australia, the first interest meeting was held in Ballarat, Victoria during 1931. The Rotary President at Ballarat , Mr Maddern, had written to Mrs Oliver Golding asking for details about the Inner Wheel movement in Great Britain and Ireland. Margarette Golding was overjoyed at the enquiry. In fact she said “This is the first enquiry from the Colonies”. So in 1931, Ballarat, Victoria (disbanded in 2001) closely followed by the still active North Sydney, NSW, were the first Inner Wheel Clubs to be chartered outside the UK. A quirk of fate saw both clubs issued Overseas Club No 1.
News of the formation of these Clubs interested other ladies and many enquiries were received from Rotary Clubs. From these small beginnings and the dedication of original members, Inner Wheel has grown in all States. There are now a total of 14 Districts, two in Queensland, six in New South Wales, three in Victoria, one each in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania and one non districted club – Canberra Belconnen, ACT. National membership is now almost 4 000.
In 1968, under the leadership of Mrs Kath Armstrong from Sydney Club, the Australian National Council was formed. The Council was represented at the International Inner Wheel Board meeting held in London in February 1969. In 1994 our current name change occurred – Inner Wheel Australia.
The first International President from the Southern Hemisphere – in fact outside Europe – was Gwen Davies from Parramatta, NSW in 1975-76. Since that year, Gwen Bowman from Belmont, NSW in 1992-93, Lovise Richardson from Sutherland, NSW in 1998-99 and Carole Buchanan from Berwick, Victoria in 2001-02 have been International Presidents. The current International President is Australian Chris Kirby from Sydney Inner West, NSW.
Members have organised three International Conventions in Australia. The first in May 1976 was held at Willoughby Town Hall, NSW. The second was held at the Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, NSW in October 1993 and the third was held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in April 2018. All of these Conventions were a great success with support from all members.
The National Conference is held annually in October. It can be held in any State and is hosted by a District or Club.
The Origin of the Flame of Friendship
In October 1979 at the Australian National Association Conference held in Kiama, New South Wales, the Association President, Von Bellizia, introduced the Flame of Friendship into Australia. She presented each District Chairman with a beautiful long blue candle to take back to their Districts.
Von explained that the flame symbolised the warm feeling of pride we all feel in being members of Inner Wheel. The rays of the candle typify the friendship and understanding that will always exude from our Clubs.
The first Club to adopt this Flame of Friendship was the Inner Wheel Club of Bendigo South at their First General Meeting on 5 February 1980. Members agreed unanimously that the “Flame of Friendship” would become their very own Club symbol and, on that day in February, the Flame of Friendship was born.