Black Swan April 2015

Black Swan April 2015

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Judith Allen





April is a month of respite, between busy March when contests are finalised, and exciting May when we prepare for and celebrate our District Convention. Members are completing awards to help their clubs achieve their DCP goals, and clubs are working hard to ensure memberships are retained and increased.

This month’s articles reflect this period of calm: news of individual and club achievements as well as word of advice and encouragement from our District leaders.

Judith B Swan

Judith Allen Black Swan Editor
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District Governor Report

Flying Upward!

Overall I am excited to see that we are flying upwards and performing extremely well as a district, both within our region and worldwide. Currently we are ranked first in our region for membership payments and distinguished clubs and second in the region for paid clubs. On a global outlook, we are ranked thirteenth for paid clubs, fourteenth for membership payments, and twenty ninth for distinguished clubs. For a district which is less than four years old, this is a tremendous accomplishment and I am so proud and appreciative of all the work you do as a team and individually to hit this mark. The graph below shows our progress to achieve Distinguished status.


Rank in

in world
Rank in region
1 87.6% 2
14 86.6% 1
29 71.1% 1

I hope you are loving our hot air balloon banner and it is helping you to understand our District goals for the year. This is now displayed on the front page of our district website. I update this weekly and as we edge closer to the end of the year, this will become more frequent. I encourage you to check out the banner and speak about this within your club to help members throughout the district understand the bigger picture of district goals.

We have some work to do still to achieve our goal of Presidents Distinguished District but I am confident we can achieve Distinguished District by our convention in May. This is our challenge. To do this we need to follow up on those graced members to reach the membership payments figure of 3540, follow up on educational awards to enable clubs to reach Distinguished status or better (we need 16 more clubs to achieve this) and keep working diligently with our new club leads to gain the magic number of 81 paid clubs. With still a few clubs to submit April renewals and several new clubs in formation, I am still confident we will achieve our goal, whilst strengthening our current clubs. I know some clubs are still struggling and I am determined to support and help those clubs to build a strong foundation this year to springboard from in the new Toastmasters year.

I know your Area Governors are working very hard to complete and lodge their club visits this month. If your Area Governor is visiting your club, please ensure you welcome them officially and allow them time to speak on the program to address your members.

At this stage, only Area S35 had achieved Distinguished status. Congratulations to Kutty and the sensational clubs in Area S35. To be Distinguished this early is truly an outstanding achievement. My recommendation to Kutty and the clubs in Area S35 is the same as it is for every single member of District 17: keep aiming for the sky right up until the final day of this Toastmasters year. You can go even higher. I believe many more Area Governors are only requiring the submission of club visit reports to achieve Distinguished status. I’m sure these will be well on the way to being completed. If your members have achieved an educational goal or you have member dues to submit, I encourage you to do this urgently in order for your club to achieve your goals and your Area to achieve its goals as well.

I know the convention committee is now working very hard to pull together the final arrangements for our convention. Registrations are coming in still and I expect to have a bumper crowd for our first convention outside the metropolitan area. The awareness created by sensational marketing by all is nothing short of remarkable. Thanks to our Division Governors and their teams for the raffles at your Division events which have boosted registrations as well. Will you be a part of District 17 history by attending?

Our achievements so far are looking extremely respectable. However there is still some work to do. Be very proud of your individual efforts and our collective efforts so far this year; I am so proud of each of you. But let us not rest on our laurels just yet. Continue to support, help and train fellow members right up until the final day of this year. This was a commitment we all made together at the beginning of this year and I know you will all uphold that. I know we can achieve President’s Distinguished District together and celebrate in style on completion of a job well done. Come fly with us and let’s celebrate at the top!


Robyn Richards DTM
District 17 Governor 2014-2015


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Southern River Toastmasters Club Turns Five

My home club, Southern River, celebrates its 5th birthday on 10 May 2015. Although a big bash is not on the cards, it will be nonetheless, an auspicious occasion to be celebrated with heartfelt pride. As an inaugural member and a member of only this one club, my pride stems from a fundamentally strong club culture in an ever changing seascape of new faces; each generation embracing the same values of “members first”, camaraderie, entertaining and effective meetings, strong and serious leadership and a “can do” philosophy.

Our modest club has achieved a noteworthy list of accolades to-date, including

  • 4 Area Governors
  • 2 Division Governors
  • 3 Distinguished Toastmasters
  • Positive Promotion Premiership winner 2013/2014
  • Best Club Newsletter 2013/2014
  • Presidents Distinguished Club status for 4 years since inception and trending in that direction in 2014/2015

This year, the club has achieved

  • more DCP goals than 95.0% of all clubs in the district and more than 97.8% of all clubs worldwide
  • higher member retention than 38.8% of all clubs in the district and more than 37.7% of all clubs worldwide (source : Mike Raffety DCP History)

Before we appear too big for our britches to our fellow Toastmasters, let me say it is far from our intention to boast or gloat. These are in fact reminders of the hard work put in by all club members through the years; that we can achieve if we only tried. They are outcomes that the club puts before its members as a goal to inspire us to plod on and maintain a comparable and better year-on-year achievements for ourselves.

Similarly, we remember that success is through hard work and cannot be guaranteed; plus lessons learnt in order to avoid a re-occurrence of our troughs.

For instance, our medium sized club generally hovers around the 20ish members mark and we have seen our “dark days” where only four to six members turned up for a meeting. Thankfully we’ve overcome that spell and have again fortified our membership to comfortable levels where every attendee has an agenda role without too many having to undertake multiple roles.

Also, within five years, we have returned only five inaugural members, dedicated to help the club continue to live its glory days. Strong leadership is important to every club and it’s now the role of these five originators to bring up a new generation of committed members, eager and willing to put in the hard yards to drive the club in meeting members’ goals for education, practice opportunities, engagement and close-knit community relationships.

Fellow Toastmasters, wear your club achievements proudly, benefit from lessons learnt and contribute to club goals. If members are not yet focussing on targets, why not jump into the driver’s seat and create this positive enthusiasm? There is absolutely nothing to stop you from having engaging meetings while aiming high to meet club achievements. In fact, the two are inextricably linked. After all, having fun is the motivation for successful clubs.

235 no shadow try again 

Stephanie Chan, DTM
Southern River Toastmasters Club

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Toastmaster Topics

There has been some strong debate recently regarding what topics can and cannot be use
No SEX, POLITICS, or RELIGION is a myth! I wrote to TI to ask for their input and here is there response.
I hope this will end the debate and make it easier for speakers and evaluators alike:

Dear Toastmaster Ward,
Thank you for your email; I am happy to help!
I am going to refer you to the Education Program FAQ page, found by clicking on the FAQ link at the bottom of, and then selecting “Education Program.” This way you can refer to the appropriate page on the website if necessary. I have also provided the wording below, per the request of your email:

What are the limitations on speech topic?:

There aren’t any, but please review the following:
Members often hear “through the grapevine” that speeches concerning politics, religion and sex are forbidden by Toastmasters International because “such controversial subjects are not appropriate.”

This is not true. Toastmasters International does not prohibit any speech topic, content or language.
Toastmasters International recognizes that club members may learn much about the world around them from listening to others’ speeches on a variety of subjects. This variety can add interest to club meetings and stimulate thoughts and ideas. For these reasons, Toastmasters International does not place restrictions on topics, content or language in any speech.

Toastmasters International also recognizes that a club comprises a diverse group of people and recommends that members be mindful of this diversity, using good taste and sensitivity when selecting speech topics, content and language.

While Toastmasters International has no organizational restrictions along these lines, each individual club does have the right to limit speech subjects, content and/or language, with the consensus of its members. Club leaders should guide their members on how to observe good taste and sensitivity in the context of that particular club.

Club websites are useful vehicles clubs can use to advise members and guests of any policies that have been decided. Presenting information on a club website helps maintain consistency as leadership changes. Additionally, it allows transparency and clarity for club members so they can periodically review the established practices of their club.

I hope this information helps, but if we can be of further service, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Marlene Ward DTM
TLI Training Group

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Success in the North

It was identified during my tenure as Area Governor last year, that there was likely to be strong demand for a new club in the Northern Suburbs. At that time the most northerly club was Northern Lights, based in Woodvale, and so after many meetings and form filling, a new Club, Currambine Toastmasters was born.The Demonstration meeting was held on 12 February 2014, and, after a relatively slow start, interest picked up. This interest accelerated in late April – early May leading to the realisation of the Sponsors (Peter Harrison and Sue Fallon) and Mentors (Larry Smith and Kirsty Stone) that the club could well be chartered in the 2013/2014 Toastmaster year. With some long nights, encouragement from the District Executive, and several phone calls direct to WHQ, Currambine was successfully chartered on the 30 June 2014.

Since that time Currambine has gone from strength to strength. Recently it has been experiencing weekly enquiries via its website, regular visits of approximately 2- 4 guests per meeting and has increased its membership by 10 since 1 July last year. It has started to get to the point where the club is already beginning to outgrow its current premises.

Currambine is already Select Distinguished and the committee are very confident it will be Presidents Distinguished in the club’s full inaugural year.

By identifying an area that was not being serviced by Toastmasters and taking the risk to meet the potential demand with a new club. Currambine has quickly established itself in the Northern Corridor as a strong fun club, diligently following the Toastmasters’ education program and format.  A true Success in the North.

Currambine Toastmasters meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at the Beaumaris Sporting Association, 6 Miami Beach Promenade, Iluka


Peter Harrison DTM
President, Currambine Toastmasters Club 2014/2015


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Happy Bengali New Year

During April, one of our newest members, Wahid Khan, delivered a Bengali New Year’s address to the Bangladeshi Fair at Murdoch University grounds.


Wahid is one of the leaders of the Bangladesh Australia Association of WA. Was he chosen to give the address because he was the only Toastmaster on the BAAWA committee? Who knows; who cares! He spoke beautifully and did Toastmasters proud, himself proud, and his Southern River club proud. Well done Wahid Khan!


John Palmer DTM
Southern River Toastmasters

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DCP Good Call / Bad Call

A lot of people tell me there is no value in the Distinguished Club Program (DCP). I will debate that with everyone. I am a great believer in the business plan, or in the business world, a Key Performance Indicator (KPI), and appreciate how working the DCP system helps our members to understand why we want them to have, and to achieve goals.

I believe in setting goals with members by asking the following questions and others

  1. Why did they join and what can we do to help them achieve that?
  2. What does each member want from Toastmasters?
  3. How many speeches do they want to present in the year?
  4. How frequent do they want to speak?
  5. What are their leadership goals in Toastmasters?

If you can answer each of these questions for every new member within the first month of their membership, and follow up frequently to ensure they have the same goals and the club is still meeting them, do you expect them to leave at renewal time? Why would they?

There are the two goals Presidents and their club officers have control over.

  1. Membership
  2. Member Achievements

Being diligent during the entire year, setting a club plan, and setting club goals that reflect the DCP will show direction which will help to maintain or renew members.

Being diligent with members to set a plan, and stick to the member’s plan, which must be negotiated into the available spots in the program, but still met, will encourage members to remain Toastmasters.

Toastmaster clubs will always lose members at renewal time, but very few leave because they die. Most members say they are not renewing because it is work related, but a club that is not creating a plan with every member, showing members a clear path to achieve their goals, show a positive direction for the club, helping to satisfy the member experience of every member, loses more members annually than clubs that are mentoring and working with members to achieve their goals.

Simple! Work the system.

Enhance the member experience with planning and carefully following the plan.

Ian's article


Ian Pickens DTM
District 17 LGET

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Don’t Try, Won’t Know

As new Toastmasters, we are initially working to get over our nervousness and fear of public speaking. As we grow familiar with the club environment, we gain that little bit of confidence each time we step on stage. When we’ve been with Toastmasters for a year or two, we may be asked to take on more responsible roles. Each time, that happens, we again revert to facing our fear-demons and dropping back to square one.

But do you notice that stepping out of our comfort zone becomes easier after a couple of attempts? That’s because the comfort zone as we know it, is constantly being stretched; and we get used to the Process of Change when we are stretched to fulfil new challenges.

Nominations for the 2015/2016 District Officer positions have just closed on 31 March. I wonder how many Toastmasters have taken up this call to higher leadership? I remember asking this of an active member who has been showing great promise in his support of a spate of Area and District events. Although his capability, in my opinion, is unquestionable, the member nevertheless felt a bit daunted, spouting a familiar line “I probably won’t be any good at it anyway.”

But how would we know whether we’d be any good if we didn’t try? Not trying is in fact a self-preservation mechanism that protects our fragile ego. Fundamentally, that’s what we fear – projecting a bad image of ourselves to our peers and seniors. Surely, Toastmasters teaches us to gain confidence in ourselves within a safe environment. Hence, we should maximise that learning experience and achieve above and beyond the expected and the routine.

As my Division Governorship races to an end in three months, I am reflective of what I would never have experienced had I not undertaken this role and other activities.

As a young Toastmaster, I was happy to do the routine and nothing more. In fact my plan was to just complete my Competent Communication Manual and gracefully bow out of Toastmasters having “been there and done that”. But I caught the speaking bug and pushed on. I became a club officer only because it was a requirement for a leadership award. Even then, I opted for what I reckoned was the simplest role, being the Club Secretary. In 2012/2013, I became an Area Governor because (you’ve guessed it), it was another requirement for an award. Did I have doubts over my ability? I should say so! What if I wasn’t any good? What if I let my Area members down? What if I couldn’t fill my predecessor’s shoes? What if I was the worst Area Governor in the District? What if, what if, anyway. Reaching deep down for some shred of confidence in my ability, I made an attempt any way. That attempt proved a winner. My worst nightmares didn’t come true; in fact the contrary happened and I was rewarded for my endeavour.

My foray into the Division leadership saw the same concerns emerge. Whilst my journey is still on-going, I just focus on a positive outcome and keep going (like the Energiser bunny), enjoying the ride up the learning curve.

Doing a 5 to 7 minute speech had never bothered me but extending that to 10 minutes … 15 minutes …. 20 minutes had again made me question my staying power. With practice, I don’t break much of a sweat with a 30 minute presentation. In fact, I have presented 90 minute workshops which have left me totally fulfilled in my quest to become a more professional workshop presenter.

Those who know me. will by now be asking what the moral of my story is and what call to action message I have. Fellow Toastmasters, there’s a first time for everything. If we stayed well within our comfort zone, we’d be stuck in the Twilight Zone, forever wondering if we’d ever be good enough for anything but never knowing. Then we wonder why we’re stuck in a hamster wheel … going nowhere.

My challenge to all of you is to simply give new challenges a go. You’ll never know how GOOD you could be if you never tried. Ride the learning curve and then look back at how far you have travelled. I’ll not wish you luck as luck has nothing to do with it. Instead, I’ll wish you a great experience as you believe in yourself and start DOING!
235 no shadow try again

Stephanie Chan
Southern River Toastmasters Club


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Successful Clubs 2015

The overall success of our District 17 owes a lot to the vigorous activity of our top clubs who provide financial members and member awards to the overall District mix.

How do we measure success for clubs?

We do it through the Toastmasters International Distinguished Club Program (the DCP). The DCP has 10 goals measuring member awards, new members, training and returns lodged.

10 or 9 Goals is Presidents Distinguished
8 or 7 Goals is Select Distinguished
6 or 5 Goals is Distinguished

There is also a total membership goal at June 30 to be Distinguished or better.
Successful Clubs right now
You can see the list of our Successful Club at this webpage

Congratulations to 3 clubs who already have all 10 Goals and are Presidents Distinguished:
Victoria Quay, Canning Vale and Ellenbrook.
I expect several more will reach that top target by June 30.

How is your club going right now?
Check it out at the DCP page


David Nicholas DTM
District 17 Webmaster

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Unprecedented Opportunity for Toastmasters in WA

A leading District 17 Toastmaster, Mike Helm DTM, is running for the position of Second Vice President for Toastmasters International, which is a position on the five-member executive team on the Board of Directors. He is just one of three candidates globally nominated by the International Leadership Committee and if successful, will go on to become President of Toastmasters International. This action has created an extraordinary opportunity for the West Australian Toastmaster community.MikeHelm0903A

Mike’s abilities as a leader were highlighted when, in 2007-2008, as District Governor of District 73, he not only united members in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and WA, but also added 16 new clubs to the district, with 12 in WA, and lay the foundation for what we now know as District 17 – WA recognised as a district in its own right.

From 2012-2014 Mike served as an International Director for Region 12, which comprises Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. During Mike’s term he excelled in representing Toastmaster members from Region 12 and throughout the world on the Board of Directors.

After an exhaustive consultation process conducted locally and globally, Mike has identified these areas as the focus of his campaign platform:

1 Rewarding membership retention in our recognition programs
2 Adjusting our policies for clubs with special needs such as university clubs and isolated clubs
3 Bringing Toastmasters to new communities across the world
4 Implementing the new education program sensibly
5 Helping our district officers to gain the skills to help them do their job well
6 Increasing communication from the Board of Directors to members and district leaders

Mike’s campaign team is working on creating resources and solutions to these challenges and is expanding…and there is a lot to be done. Now YOU have an opportunity to be part of our history. If you want to participate in Mike’s campaign, please email him on

You can find out about Mike’s candidacy and his background on his website

Let’s all get behind Mike’s campaign. If he is successful, we will have a West Australian as a future President of Toastmasters International.

Ross Wilkinson

Ross Wilkinson DTM
Past District 17 Governor, 2012-2013
Campaign Manager – Mike Helm for Second Vice President


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Beat the Clock

Beat the Clock


Leonor Ragan, DTM
Lieutenant Governor Marketing 2014-2015
Happy to be of service to District 17 members

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Interested in Leading a Group of Club Officers at COT July 2015?

The Training Leadership Institute Training Group Toastmasters Club is inviting current and/or past club officers to the following challenge:

·         Are you looking to take another step up in your Toastmasters journey or know someone who would fit the criteria?
·         Are interested in passing on your knowledge to future Club Committee Members at TLI sessions next Toastmasters Year?
·         Do you have any ideas you wish to share about the Club Officer Training (COT) sessions?
·         Are you available on the 6th June for a run through the COT sessions? With fabulous afternoon Tea
·         Are you able to attend the training dates for the COT on the 9th, 11th and 19th July?
·         Are you working on your Leadership Track and need to conduct one/presentations?
·         Or are you working on your Advance Communicator Silver and need conduct a presentation?
·         Pre-information discussion will be done over Skype in May to get you up to speed of what is involved and to go over being a presenter or a leader.

If you meet all of these criteria, we are looking for you to step up and become a group leader at the next Club  Officer Training sessions at TLI in July 2015 and February 2016. July 2015 TLI dates are:

Thursday 9th 1730 arrival 1800 commencement, 2200 conclusion
Saturday 11th 1330 arrival 1400 commencement, 1800 conclusion
Sunday     19th 1330 arrival 1400 commencement, 1800 conclusion

The presenters who contribute to the break out-group must be doing the role or have done the club officer role in the past.

TLI Toastmasters Training Group is assisting the Program Quality Director at the Club Officer Training sessions and we need interested Toastmasters to work together, to share their knowledge and to organise the role requirements based upon Toastmasters International training guidelines and any other necessary inclusions for the sessions.

Spread the word to you club officers and members. There is no requirement to join TLI Club.

If you have any questions about this opportunity, don’t hesitate to contact Sue Fallon or if you are interested in becoming a group leader, presenter or assistant trainer, please contact by 10th May 2015:

Sue Fallon on
Training Leadership Institute Training Group Toastmasters Club


Sue Fallon
District 17 Public Relations Officer

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Beat the base heading

Talk Up Toastmasters



Talk-Up Toastmasters Membership Building Contest


                DIVISION     CLUB NAME                                               NEW MEMBER TOTAL

            C                     235 Toastmasters                                                                        9

            N                     Banksia Speakers Toastmasters Club                                 5         

            S                      Canning Vale Toastmasters                                                    5

            N                     Curtin GSB Sundowner Toastmasters Club                      5

            N                     Mount Hawthorn                                                                        6

            N                     WA School of Mines                                                                 18



            Congratulations to these six clubs for an outstanding effort in welcoming 5 or more new members from 1st February to 31 March.



Leonor Ragan, DTM
Lieutenant Governor Marketing 2014-2015
Happy to be of service to our Members in District 17


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