Kingaroy Rotary Club president and conference secretary Kat Butcher with District Governor Neil Black and the Mitsubishi raffle prize donated by Huston Motors

March 23, 2021

If you’ve been in Kingaroy recently you may have noticed a white Mitsubishi parked inside what used to be a dress boutique in Kingaroy Street.

The $19,584 Mitsubishi Mirage, donated by Huston Motors, is serving a dual purpose: it’s the big first prize in a raffle to raise funds to support youth suicide prevention in the South Burnett, and it’s promoting this weekend’s huge District 9600 Rotary Conference in Kingaroy.

The three-day conference, from Friday to Sunday, has already attracted bookings from 350 people.

The event is the highlight of local businessman Neil Black’s one-year term as District Governor.

When he was District Governor-elect, Neil had the privilege of selecting the venue and following in the footsteps of his late father, Ray, who brought the District Conference to Kingaroy in 2007.

Neil selected Kingaroy.

District 9600 includes part of south-east Queensland as well as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Nauru.

Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions international Rotarians who had hoped to come can’t make it, but there will be two representatives from PNG who have both been in Australia for more than six months.

Conference chair Tim Keeler said it was estimated the conference would push $500,000 through the local economy.

“One of the key things when we were planning the conference was how could we make it as community-connected as possible,” Tim said.

“We approached community groups and schools to provide an opportunity to put money back into the community.”

Tim said it was recognised early on that the increase in youth suicide was an issue in the district.

“It was an opportunity to do a bit of fundraising for a youth suicide prevention program and get attention about the issue,” he said.

“We spoke to Council and Cr Danita Potter, and then Mark Huston just walked in and gave us the car to raffle …

“All the money will go to the South Burnett Suicide Prevention group.”

Tickets in the Mitsuibishi raffle are just $2 and can be bought at the Conference HQ at 195 Kingaroy Street, Kingaroy (the old Trendsetter Boutique).

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Conference Highlights

On Friday, guests will register at the Conference HQ from 9:00am before heading off to Kingaroy Golf Course for a few rounds.

Conference guests William McInnes and author Rick Morton will be doing book readings at Kingaroy Library from 1:00pm.

In the evening, Rotarians will enjoy a barbecue at ‘Bethany’ and entertainment, hosted by the Coolabunia State School P&C.

On Saturday, the Conference will officially get under way at Kingaroy State High School after the official opening by South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto with Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and Kingaroy SHS principal Ashley Roediger.

Guest speakers will be Murgon’s own Leah Purcell and musician Tony Dee, whose appearance in the “We’re The Superhumans” video went viral ahead of the 2016 Paralympics.

Keynote speaker Stephanie Woollard OAM will share “The Story Of Seven Women”.

Pandemic travel restrictions may have stopped some Rotarians arriving, but they have not stopped an international flavour being added to the conference.

In a satellite link-up, guest speaker Tom Butcher – from the Rotary Club of Baku – will be speaking from Azerbaijan on “Rotary In A War Zone”.

The Azerbaijani Rotarians have also donated a magnificent silk tapestry with gold thread which will be auctioned on Saturday night.

Other guest speakers on Saturday include journalist and author Rick Morton and Rotarians Peter Morley and Jitendra Prasad.

ALIVE CEO Tamsyn Rosenberg, who will be conducting professional development sessions with KSHS staff on Friday, will then tackle the difficult topic “Youth suicide: A Preventative Approach”.

The ALIVE Project is a community-driven organisation dedicated to ending suicide in young people in Australia.

Kingaroy State High School students will also present sessions covering various topics, including the school’s Active Citizens program.

A gala dinner – booked out! – will top off Saturday at Kingaroy Town Hall.

On Sunday, guest speakers include Josh Gadischke (Proteco) and actor William McInnes before the conference winds up at 12:30pm.

Tony Dee will provide more musical entertainment.

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