Black Swan August 2015

Black Swan August 2015

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Auriole D’Souza






In this issue, a variety of articles sent in by members, showcase the value of good public speaking.

Read all about Vijay’s interview with Rachel.

Also, ‘is it too early to train our children to speak confidently’, ‘apparently not’, says John Palmer.

Learn a few tips from Stephanie on how to mentor a new club, and many more interesting articles.

Kind regards



Auriole D’Souza
Black Swan Editor

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District Director’s Report

Toastmasters Is All About ME

That certainly sounds to be a bit contentious, it should be about you, the members, about your education, about your development, your growth, your confidence.  Surely there is a better way of looking at toastmasters than about ME.

To explain:- ME is all about myself, and my personal goals, my aims and development, my toastmasters experience or education.  Holistically it is about

(M)  Members or Membership,

(E)  Experience and /or Education.

I became even more convinced that Toastmasters is about ME at the board briefing session during the International Conference in Las Vegas.

During District Leader training there was great emphasis on quality meetings and Member Experience.  During the opening address by Dan Rex ( CEO) there was emphasis on the integrity needed to be a quality club, to enhance member experience, to develop self through the toastmaster program.

The new TM strategy plan 2015 either directly or indirectly focusses on Club Excellence which directly relates to Member Achievement referencing education or experience.

Frankly I don’t know anyone who joined toastmasters for the benefit of another person, we all joined so we could grow or develop our skills.  That I am sorry is all about ME.

I can only imagine the power of TM is everyone actively set goals and targets.   Pursued those targets at club level,  and made sure the club leaders were making the experience about ME.

I am excited about the results of the first 2 months of this TM year, the progress we have made to ensure D17 is operating at the best member experience we can and to make the necessary changes to continue looking after members.

Toastmasters is evolving, it is changing and soon we will be choosing the direction we want to go in toastmasters.  District 17 is evolving and I am still eager to hear what we can change to make your experience more valuable.

It is fantastic if there is nothing, but at this renewal time, (this month) don’t leave because your club is not offering me what I joined toastmasters for.

In closing I want to congratulate every toastmaster who has achieved an award this year, every new toastmaster just starting their journey.  Plus every toastmaster that the club has put forward to the Area Director visit who are going to achieve awards.

Working with the members who have dared to Dream Big, I ask you to Team together and Make it happen.  This is all about ME your MEmber and my own personal achievement whoever you are.


Aug-DD D17 Ian Pickens

Ian Pickens DTM
District 17 Director 2015-2016

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Being A New Club Mentor

We exist temporarily through what we take but we live forever through what we give – Douglas H Lawson

At the SMAC (Sponsors, Mentors And Coaches) Workshop in late July, I had the privilege of presenting the segment on being a New Club Mentor. While I have only ever been a new Club Sponsor, drawing on my mentoring experience at my home club and during my Area and Division Governorships, made my sharing even more challenging and rewarding.

Using a botanical analogy, a new Club Mentor is likened to be a gardener who nurtures a sapling, by watering and fertilising it, until its roots (foundations) are established enough for it to develop steadily on its own.

watchman-StephanieThe New Club Mentor’s role is to share knowledge and expertise (inform and impart). He is like a watchman who shines his light in the dark of the night to illuminate the way for those on a journey. As a Nurturer, the New Club Mentor empowers new Toastmasters and gives them a leg up towards achieving personal and club goals.

A very pertinent question to ask at the point of deciding to take on this role is the all-important WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)? As a Mentor, you leave behind your legacy because what you share are your expertise, values and strategies. Imparting a positive attitude in line with Toastmasters’ protocols is vital in ensuring a continuity of the Toastmasters principles and ethics. At the same time, you are arming yourself with new skills and knowledge. Research becomes second nature as you seek answers to questions you yourself may not be familiar with. You will acquire Leadership skills like building teamwork; planning and delegating. The act of investing in the future of Toastmasters is surely a noble cause not to be slighted. Finally, completion of the New Club Mentor role will earn you credit towards your ALS (Advanced Leadership Silver) Award. Let’s not be embarrassed by this last rationale, for it is a means of furthering your personal educational journey towards your DTM (Distinguished Toastmasters) Award and is fully justified.

The benefits of your role also extend to your Mentees, who get to know what to do next and how to do it. They will come to realise the manifold benefits they can reap and what is expected of them in their Toastmasters journey. As for the District, a viable and successful club means achieving their mandate to grow a strong club base.





Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for life- Anon


To qualify for your ALS award, your duties extend over 6 months from the time the new club charters but for effectiveness, a 12 month stint is preferred. In teaching your Mentees how to “fish”, your role is to share, teach and guide them in order to ensure that the Club is strong and functional and the Club Officers become effective Leaders.
Whether for new or established clubs, here are some of my personal favourites to share with members:
• Agenda roles – this is the main engine for learning and practice
• Education track – members need to know what is in store for them and not be limited by erroneous thoughts of no life after their CC / CL
• Officer roles – a club needs strong leadership directing its Members ahead
• Club Success Plan and Distinguished Club Program – the backbone of what makes a successful club and the goals to point the way ahead.
• District Structure – just like any organisation’s staff, members will benefit from knowing where they sit in the structure and who the Executive Leaders are

Do you want to leave your legacy to future generations of Toastmasters? Want to teach the “young ones” how to fish for themselves? Are you in need of fulfilling your ALS award requirements? These are as good a reason as any to become a New Club Mentor.

stepanie c

Stephanie Chan, DTM
Club President
Southern River Toastmasters Club

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The Inaugural Palmer Prize

John Palmer & xOne of the greatest delights in Toastmasters is helping young people grow in confidence and skill.  I have been fortunate enough to be running a Youth Leadership program for a group of eight children, originally in years 2, 4, and 6 at St Benedict’s Primary School in Applecross.

A year on, three children have changed schools, to Wesley College, Penhros College and Santa Maria College.  But the program continues on a monthly rather than weekly timeframe.  The growth in the kids’ development has been spectacular, most notably with the youngest.

The parents decided to award the “best performer” each month with a perpetual trophy, the “Palmer Prize”.  The inaugural winner of the award was Kate Scott, pictured below holding the trophy.  Kate did an excellent speech demonstrating great Toastmasters skills, but what was most impressive of all was how she handled the Table Topic.  The children are all doing very well in their prepared speeches as the parents are 100% supportive of the program.  However, parents cannot help much in an impromptu Table Topic; that all comes from the kids themselves.  And Kate’s table topic response could have won a club competition!  Kate has also been recognised at her school for her outstanding ability to confidently address a School Assembly.

If you have a spare hour or so in your busy week and have children or grandchildren, think about setting up a Youth Leadership program or a Speechcraft for kids program at your home, or the home of another parent.  It could be the most rewarding aspect of your Toastmasters journey.


John Palmer DTM


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An Interview With Vijay – Rachel Rui Liu

I first joined Murdoch Southsiders Toastmasters Club in 2012 to improve my English.  Vijay immediately impressed me as a senior club member.  He did so not only with his exceptional speeches but also his leadership skills which inspired and encouraged other club members.


This year Vijay also achieved a long time goal, when he won the Toastmasters International Speech contest at the District Final held in Kalgoorlie in 2015.  He is going to Las Vegas to attend the World Championship of Public Speaking Finals where he will be representing District 17 Toastmasters (Western Australia)

This is really an honour for our club and the broader community in WA.  I managed to grab Vijay for an interview about his recent win and to get his thoughts on his journey with our Toastmasters Club.


– Could you tell us how long you have been attending Toastmasters?

I joined Toastmasters back in Malaysia in October 1993 and remained active until I moved to Australia in November 2002.  I did not renew my membership as other matters were more demanding of my time in a new country with young kids.  I rejoined in October 2012 with Murdoch Southsiders.

– What does Toastmasters mean for you?

Toastmasters for me means personal development, discipline and fellowship.  It is also an opportunity to coach and mentor new aspirants in this wonderful organization.

– Do you still remember the first time when you joined a Toastmasters club?

I had a wonderful club back in Malaysia called D’Utama Toastmasters Club.  It was a club I fell in love with at first sight.  The members were friendly, the passion was strong, the leaders were dedicated and the meetings were entertaining.  When I walked into Murdoch Southsiders Club in 2012, the above qualities stared right at me. I joined and love it.

– Congratulations for the winning and representing Western Australia to attend the International Speech Competition (sic) in Las Vegas.  About the upcoming speech competition, are you excited about it?  Have you prepared for it?

I am excited about it.  I have never been to the (United) States.  It also takes me to the next level of my development on how I stand up to further scrutiny by an International audience and also understanding where my skills are at.  In terms of preparation, I have had discussions with previous winners of the District Competition like Martin Lindsay and Peter Law.  I also met up with perennial convention attendees like Mark and Robyn Richards, Marianne Law and some others in the district.  Not to mention our own members like Graham Macdonald and Robert Coburn.  I have taken their feedback on board and made some changes.  But my preparation strategy overall is quite unorthodox and I go by feel, looking at my speech when I feel like it and chopping and changing.  Eventually I will get there.  Then I will start preparing my second speech. Hopefully it will be ready by the time I take the flight to Las Vegas.

– What would you like to say to those who are struggling to improve their public speaking skills?

Each person learns differently based on many factors.  These include whether English is your first language, whether there is a professional need, an interest or just wanting to develop a skill?  For me, it started with an interest.  I was always impressed by eloquent speakers and inspirational leaders.  The questions I would ask a new person or a person still at a foundation level are:

  • Why do you want to do this?
  • Are you looking at an end point in Toastmasters or are you looking at enjoying the journey?
  • Are you comfortable with the club members and culture?

By answering these questions, the person can reflect on the degree of commitment to this pursuit of public speaking skills.  If the person is looking to enjoy the journey and is happy with the members and club culture – he/she will succeed.  The definition of success is relative and personal.  My advice is this: Share your message, these are the gems.  The words are just the tools.  Don’t worry about them.  When you need them, you will find them.

– In your memory, which speech impressed you most in your Toastmasters journey?

Last year’s International Speech contest winner Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, really had a great impact on me and taught me a great deal about the competition.  However, a great inspiration for me was Les Brown, one of the Golden Gavel Award winners in Toastmasters.

 Vijay, as he prefers to be called by his friends, was interviewed by Rachel Rui Liu, Vice President Public Relations at Murdoch Southsiders Toastmasters Club, prior for his departure for the World Championship of Public Speaking in Las Vegas.


Rachel Rui Lui
VP Public Relations
Murdoch Southsiders Toastmasters


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2015-2016 Distinguished Toastmasters

congratulationsdistinguished TM badge

2015-2015 DTMs

Colin Hughes DTM, Mike Palmer DTM, Marianne Law DTM, Cathy Kunzel DTM, and Michael Foster DTM

(From left to right)

Congratulations on reaching the highest level of achievement possible to an individual toastmaster.  The DTM recognizes a superior level of achievement in both communication and leadership.

Well-done Colin, Mike, Marianne, Cathy, and Michael. On behalf of District 17, I thank you for all your dedication, persistence, and hard work.  Your achievements have inspired of all us. We are very proud of you!!!

Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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Triple Crown

Triple Crown

Name Count Award
Asvin Bhudia 3 CC, CL, ALB
Colin Hughes 3 ALS, DTM, CC
Marianne Law 5 CL, CL, CC, ALS, DTM
Peter Law 4 CC, CC, CC, CC
Martin Lindsay 3 CC, CL, CC
David Nicholas 3 ACB, ACS, CC

These toastmasters have earned at least three educational awards in the current year.  I am very delighted to acknowledge your educational achievements.  I look forward to presenting the “Triple Crown Pin” to each one of you in the upcoming months.

I would like to encourage our toastmasters in District 17 to keep working towards achieving your educational goals to enhance your personal journey and achievements.


Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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Positive Promotion Premiership Points

August was a busy month for clubs with their promotional efforts.

It is great to see many clubs keeping their websites up to date, and posting highlights of their meetings on social media.

Eric Davies from Aspire saw the benefit of using with 14 guests at their last meeting. You could almost start a new club with that many new members.

Judith Allen from Swan organised and ran a workshop in conjunction with City of Swan Youth Development offering training for contestants in the Youth Out Loud! competition. Building a new generation of Toastmasters.

Desi Holz from Plain Speakers was asked to speak at the Men in Black ball. This sparked interest first from the Guardian Express who visited a Toastmasters meeting, which was followed by a radio interview on 6PR Drive show.

Well done to everyone who did their bit to promote their clubs and all Toastmasters clubs in District 17.

Positive Promotion Premiership at August 2015

Click on the cup for the August figures

PPILogoAugust & the Year to Date

Tom Bielski
Tom Bielski
Public Relations Manager, District 17 (2015-2016)

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Wedding Fun At Kwinana Toastmasters

Aug-marianne law's wedding pic

Outside, it was cold and bordering on freezing point.  It was the sort of night that you wouldn’t expect anyone to brave the chilly air and to leave their warm abodes.  But with Kwinana Toastmasters, it was different.  Members walked through the doors at a steady pace, some excited, some nervous as this was a very special night.  The theme was ‘The Wedding’. Suzanne aka Michael Gorman and Anthony aka Natasha Fisher were going to tie the knot.

The room was set up in such a way so as to allow the bride and groom to walk down the aisle to the smooth vibes of Boogie Wonderland.  What else would you play for such a day?  The night’s program agenda with hearts decorating the background called for quite an unusual night ahead.

We even had a ‘real’ Marriage Celebrant.  Luckily no papers were signed!  Roles were played with ease and some of us had a little inkling that the bride was quite accustomed to wearing tutus and talking in a high voice.

The speeches given by the bride and groom taking us back to the time when they first met each other and how their ‘bogan’ meeting was extremely strange in so many ways.  The Father of the Bride, Pietro aka Peter Law was extremely happy to see his daughter picked up and taken off his hands.  He thanked the groom for taking Suzanne ‘off the couch and out of the fridge’.  The mother of the groom, Davinia aka Dave Finnimore, talked about the groom’s younger days and how he loved his eggs and soldiers (toast that is).

Aunty Beryl aka Lauren Rickert, was a little worse for wear, with smudged lipstick and disheveled looks interviewed the guests.  Some of you may akin this to Table Topics.  Those interviewed ranged from our newest addition to the group, Peter O (ex-boyfriend) who somehow crashed the wedding party.  Believe it or not, he actually tried to do away with the groom but failed.  So he was instead there to wish them all the luck.  The best man, Aanu gave some sound advice to the groom with “Women change after marriage. They spend more’. And Hayley told the guests about the groom’s deep dark secrets. Apparently he was fussy about the women he went out with.  His catch phrase at the end of dates was ‘Catch you later…don’t call me’.  Luckily he finally met an unusual yet beautiful girl, in some people’s eyes.  You’ll understand from looking at the picture of the couple.

Of course speeches were evaluated; otherwise we wouldn’t be Toastmasters right?  For the first time, two speeches were evaluated by a couple of members Majella and Richard who very expertly did this as a duo and by Lisa who stood bravely by herself to evaluate two other speakers.

After a night of laughter, the guests were given rocky road bombardiers before our supper of wedding cake.

Overall, as VPE, I love to put our members into unknown situations and to watch their coping skills as well as having the added bonus of having fun.

God save them….Halloween is coming up!


Marianne Law
VPE-Kwinana Toastmasters


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Educational Awards

Congratulations-1st quarter awards


Award Date Member Name
DTM 07/01/2015 Hughes, Colin Victoria Quay Club
DTM 07/01/2015 Palmer, Mike Canning Vale Toastmasters
DTM 07/01/2015 Law, Marianne Kwinana Toastmasters
DTM 07/07/2015 Kunzel, Cathy A. Cannington Communicators
DTM 07/08/2015 Foster, Michael P. Mandjar Speakers
ALS 07/07/2015 Kunzel, Cathy A. Cannington Communicators
ALS 07/01/2015 Law, Marianne Kwinana Toastmasters
ALS 07/01/2015 Palmer, Mike Canning Vale Toastmasters
ALS 07/01/2015 Hughes, Colin Victoria Quay Club
ACG 08/20/2015 Rakela, Peta Ellenbrook Toastmasters Club
ACG 08/31/2015 Haynes, John H Sunday Sundowners Toastmasters
ACS 07/01/2015 Naidu, Michele Canning Vale Toastmasters
ACS 07/23/2015 Delane, Lynette K. St George’s Toastmasters Club
ACS 07/11/2015 Nicholas, David R. Victoria Quay Club
ALB 07/19/2015 Wilkie, Meredith Jayne Desperados
ALB 07/16/2015 Bhudia, Asvin M. Durack Club
ALB 07/23/2015 O’Connor, Martin J. Sandgroper Toastmasters Club
ALB 08/24/2015 Hartig, Krystal Willetton Toastmasters
ALB 07/29/2015 Gudka, Mit Noranda Toastmasters Club
ALB 08/11/2015 Palmer, John Alexander Cannington Communicators
ACB 08/25/2015 Ho, Dung Thi Mai Applecross Toastmasters
ACB 08/07/2015 Tan, Patricia C H Electric Toasters
ACB 07/01/2015 Richards, Robyn A. Canning Vale Toastmasters
ACB 07/01/2015 Crispin, David Armadale Toastmasters
ACB 07/29/2015 Kapur, Rajiv Western Founders Toastmasters
ACB 07/15/2015 Das, Rajesh R Curtin GSB Club
ACB 08/22/2015 Duda, Adam Ellenbrook Toastmasters Club
ACB 08/13/2015 Chan, Stephanie Southern River Toastmasters
ACB 07/11/2015 Nicholas, David R. Victoria Quay Club
ACB 07/11/2015 Gorman, Michael Kwinana Toastmasters
CL 08/17/2015 Law, Marianne Netmasters
CL 08/19/2015 Gow, Verdine Southern River Toastmasters
CL 07/09/2015 Bhudia, Asvin M. Durack Club
CL 07/17/2015 Fisher, Elizabeth Subiaco Early Birds Club
CC 07/23/2015 O’Connor, Martin J. Sandgroper Toastmasters Club
CC 07/09/2015 Otsuka, Yo Durack Club
CC 08/27/2015 Gibson, Gregory P Project Managers
CC 07/11/2015 Nicholas, David R. Victoria Quay Club
CC 07/09/2015 Bhudia, Asvin M. Durack Club
CC 08/13/2015 Chan, Stephanie Southern River Toastmasters
CC 08/05/2015 Lindsay, Martin Ellenbrook Toastmasters Club
CC 07/23/2015 Law, Peter C. Netmasters
CC 07/23/2015 Smith, Alan F. Netmasters
CC 07/02/2015 Pui, Roy Victoria Quay Club
CC 08/20/2015 Jurin, Ilija Victoria Quay Club
CC 08/05/2015 Svilicich, Antony Victoria Quay Club
CC 07/09/2015 Law, Peter C. Victoria Quay Club
CC 07/02/2015 Law, Peter C. Victoria Quay Club
CC 08/19/2015 Sittisia, Kathy Electric Toasters
CC 08/30/2015 O’Keefe, Bianca Victoria Park
CC 07/07/2015 Yamchikov, Simon Victoria Park
CC 07/16/2015 Lindsay, Martin WesCEF
CC 09/02/2015 Hughes, Colin Armadale Toastmasters
CC 08/19/2015 Law, Peter C. Armadale Toastmasters
CC 07/26/2015 Palmer, John Alexander Fremantle Gourmet Toastmasters
CC 07/25/2015 Wilkinson, Ross Phillip Fremantle Gourmet Toastmasters
CC 08/25/2015 Drake-Brockman, Michael Applecross Toastmasters
CC 07/07/2015 Chatterton, Steve Canning Vale Toastmasters
CC 07/07/2015 Lindgren, Josh Canning Vale Toastmasters
CC 07/07/2015 Chang, Vanessa Canning Vale Toastmasters
CC 07/20/2015 Steere, Leonie Fremantle Gateway Toastmasters
CC 07/23/2015 Copson, Julie M Fremantle Gateway Toastmasters
CC 07/18/2015 Perriman, Jackie Fremantle Gateway Toastmasters
CC 08/16/2015 Peng, Joyce Plain Speakers
CC 07/14/2015 Tanna, Sawan Victoria Park
CC 07/21/2015 Fisher, Tonya J. Kwinana Toastmasters
CC 08/17/2015 Law, Marianne Kwinana Toastmasters
CC 07/20/2015 Naik, Pushpesh Prakask City of Cockburn Toastmasters
CC 08/26/2015 Dumu, Elizabeth Curtin GSB Sundowner
CC 08/30/2015 Mei, Yating CPA Toastmasters

The above members have recently achieved educational awards.


By achieving these awards, each one of you has not only gained invaluable leadership skills for yourself but you have also contributed to the advancement in the Distinguished Club Program for your club.  I hope you are enjoying your Toastmaster journey and I hope to see you in the upcoming months to congratulate you personally.

These are exceptional accomplishments: 5 Distinguished Toastmasters, 4 Advanced Leaders Silver, 2 Advanced Communicators Gold, 3 Advanced Communicators Silver, 6 Advanced Leaders Bronze, 10 Advanced Communicators Bronze, 4 Competent Leaders and 36 Competent Communicators.  In total 70 Educational awards.

The Competent Communicator Award is one way we can tell that clubs are looking after their members.  We know most people join Toastmasters to improve public speaking and leadership skills.  With many members achieving the first step, clubs will see an increase in membership retention and happier members.

I am confident that your club committees know what the goals of each of you members are and that your club officers talk to new club member about what that new member wants from their membership and then work with that member to help them to achieve those personal goals.  If you would like to discuss or if have any questions with regard to awards don’t hesitate to reach out. Please contact your area director or your division director or me if you need some support.  I don’t know everything but I have a network that I can reach out to for assistance.

I am most impressed with the current award status.  Well done and all the best for the rest of this Toastmasters year as you move toward your next award.

Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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