Every three years, Rotarians meet at the Council on Legislation to review and vote on proposed legislation. The Council gives Rotarians a voice in how the organisation is governed.

This coming April will see the next Council on Legislation, and there are several proposals that affect Rotaract directly. This blog post on those proposals is co-authored by Rotaract Australia Chairperson Jake Weragoda and Vice Chairperson Travis Holland, and reflects their opinion only.

In April, Rotary’s Council on Legislation will consider, amongst other proposals, seven changes of direct relevance to Rotaract and Rotaractors.

While our friends at the Big West MDIO have prepared a formal document [PDF] outlining their response to the Council on Legislation proposals, Rotaract Australia has decided that these matters are more properly left for the district delegates. However, in the interest of informing our Rotaractors and friends of Rotaract about the proposals, here are our opinions on each of the motions.

  1. Amend the standard Rotary Club Constitution to change the name of the fifth avenue of service from ‘Youth’ to ‘New Generations.  (Proposed Enactment 16-13)

Opinion: This change intends to be more inclusive of people not considered ‘youth’ but whom Rotary clubs wish to encourage into their ranks (including Rotaractors). We think this change is symbolically important to ensuring Rotaractors feel welcomed to Rotary clubs, and we endorse its spirit. However, it was only at the 2013 Council on Legislation that the language was changed from ‘New Generations’ to ‘Youth’ and we see no pressing need to change it back.


  1. Add a fifth Object of Rotary to correspond with the fifth Avenue of Service (Proposed Enactment 16-14)

Opinion: The proposed fifth Object of Rotary aims to develop ‘a new generation of global leaders through service, mentoring, international exchange, and leadership development opportunities.’ This enactment makes explicit the common practices of Rotary clubs and Rotaract clubs, so there would be no material impact to Rotaract beyond enshrining a reason for our program in the Object of Rotary. This in itself is a positive move.



  1. To allow for flexibility in membership and classification (Proposed Enactment 16-36)

Opinion: This proposal would allow for Rotary clubs to set their own requirements for membership. Although this is not directly relevant to Rotaract Clubs, it does present an opportunity for Rotary Clubs to allow dual membership of Rotary and Rotaract clubs, potentially increasing cross-pollination of members and ideas. We view this ideal as positive, but remain unconvinced this motion specifically meets these ends.


  1. To allow Rotaractors to be active members of Rotary clubs (Proposed Enactment 16-40)

Opinion: This motion is much clearer in its intent to allow Rotaractors to also be members of Rotary clubs. It would allow Rotaractors who do not otherwise meet the classification requirements for membership in Rotary to also join Rotary Clubs. We view this as a positive move, especially in the Australian context. It would be very helpful for Rotaractors who are transitioning from Rotaract to Rotary, and demonstrates clearly that the two branches of our organisation are true partners. Finally, this proposal allows young professionals who have joined Rotary clubs to be active members of Rotaract clubs.

We are, however, concerned that this amendment could dilute the significance of being a Rotaractor, and that it could confuse the relationship between Rotary and Rotaract clubs. As such, we are on the whole undecided as to whether to support this amendment.


  1. To lower the maximum age for Rotaract to 25 (Proposed Enactment 16-133)

Opinion: This proposal seeks to lower the maximum age for membership in Rotaract, and makes a number of references to the education/work divide. We think this is based on an outdated assumption about Rotaractors, and is especially unresponsive to the nature of community-based Rotaract clubs. It also fails to recognise that Rotaractors who so wish may move on to Rotary before they ‘age-out’, and those who don’t wish to join Rotary won’t, regardless of age. We do not support this proposal. Our friends at Big West have stated: “People­­ – especially Rotaractors­­ – join Rotary when they feel that they are ready, and when they have found a club that is right for them.” This proposal will not change that, and may damage relations between Rotary and Rotaract if people feel forced out.


  1. To increase the maximum age of Rotaract to 35 (Proposed Enactment 16-134)

Opinion: We see no need to change the maximum age of Rotaract membership at this time. We consider that this could lead to divisions within Rotaract clubs, where some clubs have a low average age and others have a high average age, potentially straining inter-club relationships. It may also present a recruitment challenge for some clubs.


  1. To consider establishing Rotaract e-clubs (Proposed Enactment 16-135)

Opinion: Rotary e-clubs primarily meet online instead of in person. This proposal would allow Rotaract clubs to operate in this manner also. We do not feel this enactment is especially justified at this time as the whole idea of e-clubs is largely anachronistic to Rotaract clubs which conduct a large amount of their business online already. Given there are no strong attendance requirements for Rotaract (unlike Rotary), we cannot see a need for this change. We can see drawbacks to e-clubs that have traditionally been a strength of Rotaract clubs. These included the lack of face-to-face contact, and diminished engagement in social activities.


We welcome feedback and commentary on the proposed enactments and our opinion.

Full results from the Council of Legislation located here https://www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/exchange-ideas/events/council-legislation