Black Swan Newsletter December 2020




The official newsletter of Toastmasters International District 17.


District News
A message from the District Director
Club Officer Training in 2021
Club News
The Aussie Mozzie is waiting to be captured!!!!
Sharing Science at Canning Vale Toastmasters
Young voices being heard
UWA College Row 100th Meeting
Member Stories
Moderate a Panel Discussion
Christmas windup at Reflections Gavel Club
Submitting Articles to Black Swan


District news





A message from the District Director

As we approach the festive season ahead, we look back at the year so far and we can see a tremendous amount of positives.

The District Leadership Team has been working hard in the background “United In Harmony” in serving you the members through commitment, passion, and enthusiasm. I am very pleased to say that we are working together ensuring our members’ needs are met. A big thank you to all of the team for their tireless work.

Every decision we have made is based on the core values of Toastmasters and in line with the District Mission.

Our Club and District Officer Training has been well received with positive comments.  This is due to the hard work by our Program Quality Director Tim Blackburn and his Support Team which includes the TLI Training Group.

Our Club Growth Director Vijay Vijayaratnam has been busy as evident with the rise in the number of Club Coaches being appointed to help with clubs that require assistance.

Recently The Board of Directors of Toastmasters International acknowledged the challenges we all face and has made several important changes including offering a free path to all members who renewed or reinstated before December 31st.  Please encourage all your members to take up the free path and continue their Toastmasters journey.

Whilst the next 6 months are unpredictable I can assure you that we will continue to serve with commitment and passion.

I wish every one of you, your members, and your families a wonderful and safe Festive Season. Take this time off to recharge your batteries and come back with renewed enthusiasm for Toastmasters.

Look after yourself and take care.


Henry Yau DTM
District Director 2020-2021
District 17
Toastmasters International


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Club Officer Training in 2021

Club Officer Training is essential in the development of every members’ leadership and communication skills.  The District Leadership continues to work on developing your officer role and help you get the most out of your role to benefit you and your club.

When every club officer is well-trained to perform their duties, members are better served. This makes the member experience more positive, which leads to a quality club experience and increased member retention.

The topics which will be focussed on at the workshops are as follows:

  • Back to Basics – know how to navigate around Club Central and the District Website
  • Back to Basics Advanced – know how to master Base Camp and additional resources that are available
  • How to Achieve Club Excellence
  • How to Implement and Maintain Pathways Mentoring in Your club

Event Details

Round 2: Club Officer Training Schedule:

  1. Sunday 7 February 9 am-12 pm Location: Bunbury to Register Click Here
  2. Corporate Club Training – Thursday 18 February 5:30 pm-8:30 pm Location: CBD to register Click Here
  3. Saturday 13 February 1-4 pm Location: Bob Daniels Community Centre CBD to register Click Here
  4. Saturday 20 February 1-4pm Location: Midland Junction Arts Centre CBD to register Click Here
  5. Sunday 28 February 9 am-12pm Location: Zoom to register Click Here

Please register for one of these sessions.

For any questions please contact: or


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Club News





The Aussie Mozzie is waiting to be captured!!!!

The Aussie Mozzie is a travelling Gavel that hails from Talkabout Toastmasters Club in Mount Claremont. (Born on 01/02/2020).

The aim of the Travelling Gavel is for it to move around between clubs as much as possible.

Duration of time with Talkabout Toastmasters before he was captured: 16.5 weeks
Current location: Northern Lights Toastmasters

Rules on how to capture The Aussie Mozzie:

Host Club The Club that is currently in possession of The Aussie Mozzie
Attacking Club The Club attempting the “Coup” to capture The Aussie Mozzie
  1. There must be a minimum of 4 members from the attacking Club attending the host club.
  2. If there is more than one attacking club on the same night – the attacking club with the highest percentage of members of the Attacking Club in attendance at the Host Club will capture The Aussie Mozzie.
    Example: Club A brings along 5 members, their total Club membership is 20 which gives a 25% membership representation. Club B also brings 5 members along, but their total club membership is 18 which gives them 28% membership representation. This would indicate that Club B has a bigger % of their members present – they get to take The Aussie Mozzie with them!
  3. If a member from the attacking club is also a member of the host club, that member cannot count toward the number of members from the attacking club.
  4. The number of times a club captures The Aussie Mozzie and the duration of time they manage to keep him at their club will be recognised and rewarded annually at the annual conference held in May!
  5. The goal is to try to keep The Aussie Mozzie with your club for as long as possible, but at the same time, it encourages members to visit other clubs!

If all rules have been followed you (host club) must relinquish The Aussie Mozzie to the attacking club.

Nothing stops your club from capturing and re-capturing and re-capturing The Aussie Mozzie over and over again!


Message from Northern Lights (current custodians of the Aussie Mozzie):


We attended Talkabout Toastmasters Club,
We saw The Aussie Mozzie hiding in their Hub.
Our quest to take the Traveling gavel got real,
And yes, we see it as a very big deal!

We have him now and we’re not afraid to lose him!
Will your club be the next home of the gavels’ choosing?
The Aussie Mozzie is ready and willing,
To change his location could be quite thrilling!!!

So, to all D17 clubs that are very able,
The Aussie Mozzie is now on the table!!!


Details of Northern Lights:

Meeting days: Every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month:

Upcoming Dates:19th Jan, 2nd Feb & 16th Feb 2021,
Time: 7 pm to 9 pm
Venue: Timberlane Park Hall, Althaea Way, Woodvale

Contact: Souzy Theophilopoulos
0452 115 984


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Sharing Science at Canning Vale Toastmasters

Laid back but inspiring presentation at Canning Vale Toastmasters Club

What do you get when you merge the love of teaching, the love of science, and the love of creative writing?…….an inspirational novelist by the name of Dan Churach. Mr. Churach was a special guest speaker at Canning Vale Toastmasters Club on the 17th November 2020 and gave an inspirational account of his career and his love for the scientific method and creative writing.

Now retired from his career as a high school science teacher and university science lecturer, Dan is enjoying merging his three loves into writing novels. Churach says this was a natural progression from years of writing academic papers and presenting at conferences. Whilst he treasured those experiences, he learned that we humans think more with our guts than our heads and decisions are made more from feelings than thinking.

Using examples such as the story of Sir Isaac Newton with the falling apple and Archimedes sitting in an overflowing bathtub, Dan showed us how communicating science is no different from telling a story. Simply put, the best way to tell a story is by merely telling the audience what we are most passionate about.

His seven novels are science based, but not above a non-scientific reader’s knowledge; and because he loves travelling, many stories are set around the globe in differing locations, even Western Australia. Originally from Pennsylvania, he and his wife Karen later escaped the cold and headed to Hawaii. Whilst teaching in Hawaii, Churach enrolled in a Doctorate program at Curtin University. Of course, he fell in love with Western Australia, so after earning his PhD from Curtin University, he and Karen moved here.  He has worked all over WA sharing his love of science with his students, but now he is sharing this passion with the world in his novels. To find out more, visit Dan’s website

I found Dan Churach a truly inspirational teacher, scientist, and writer. I enjoyed talking with him and I can’t wait to read the novels he has written.


Frank Crisafio

Canning Vale Toastmasters


Dan launches his latest novel, Rainbow, which is set in remote W.A.

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Young voices being heard

Winterfold Gavel Club members. Matilda is second from the left.

Matilda is an 11-year-old honorary member of the Fremantle Gateway Toastmasters, but she hasn’t stopped there! Her enthusiasm for improving her public speaking and helping others inspired her to create her very own Toastmasters Gavel club at her school, Winterfold Primary School, aptly named “Winterfold Gavel Club”.

Winterfold Gavel Club is currently a group of 18 students with between 12 and 16 attending each meeting and has already held 16 meetings. The meetings go for approximately 30 minutes every Wednesday during their school lunch-time. Matilda explains it has helped students with their confidence and gives them the experience to talk in front of a group of fellow students and to give their opinions.

Matilda is already a seasoned Toastmaster having attended for one and a half years. She says, “Before Toastmasters I was shaking and crying, and now I am much better. Everyone in the club was all so nice and friendly and introduced me to all the roles and made me feel so welcome. It’s made a difference by improving my confidence enough to get me through the leadership application and speeches when I applied to become the Sustainability Officer at my school.”

Seeing the benefits it gave her motivated her to share the club with her fellow students, many of whom also used the opportunity to practice their leadership speeches and are certain to be filling the roles for the coming year.

Matilda shares her top tips for public speaking;

  1. Don’t overthink it.
  2. Don’t use filler words. PAUSE.
  3. If you’re scared of the audience imagine them in a funny costume.
  4. Breathe.

Matilda continues to inspire her fellow toastmasters at the Fremantle Gateway, and no doubt will be creating a new Gavel Club when she moves to high school next year.

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UWA College Row 100th Meeting

UWA College Row recently celebrated its 100th meeting. This club which chartered in March 2017 is a stepping stone for students to gain confidence in all aspects of communication and leadership skills.

Sponsor and founding member Mark Zhang continues to support the club even after has completed his studies.
Current Club President Douglas Mok is a shining light with his enthusiasm and passion.
Vice President, Education Milvert Ling continues to support the club even when membership numbers are low.

Special guests on the night included past coaches, Caroline Devenish-Meares, Leon O’Brien and Katherine Hammond, supported by current coaches Greg Lynn and myself.
More special guests in attendance included our Corporate Relations Director and Past District Director Leonor Ragan, and Barbara Coles who provided a valuable evaluation.

One of the highlights of the meeting was Bubble Teas for everyone. J

Henry Yau, DTM

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Member Stories





Moderate a Panel Discussion

I recently moderated an on-line panel discussion on Interviewing Skills and Tips for my Level 5 elective in the Leadership Development path.

I decided to do this as we have many new members in the club whose main reason for being there is to improve their success with interviews.  The club’s President asked the committee if we could do anything to help with this, so I decided that a panel discussion on this topic would benefit the club and fitted in well with my Path.

This is the first panel discussion that I have moderated, although I have been a panelist on three over the last six months.

From my experience of being a panelist, I had some specific ideas and goals that I wanted to achieve from this project.

Firstly, I wanted panelists who were experienced in the topic.

Secondly, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t ask each panelist exactly the same question in exactly the same order – which one of the moderators, when I was a panelist, had done.

Thirdly, I wanted to involve the audience throughout the session and not just take all their questions at the end.

To achieve my first goal, I asked for volunteers for panelists from District 17 (through the Facebook page), and Don Sharp from Northern Lights responded.  I approached one of my fellow club members and they also agreed to be on the panel, and then I approached Colleen Burger, who I worked with and who had interviewed me for a job.  Colleen has many years’ experience in Human Resources Management.

Unfortunately, due to a personal situation, my fellow club member was unable to make the panel discussion, but it did work well with Don and Colleen.  Both of them had a good sense of humour and were able to give insights from different perspectives and experiences.

To ensure that I didn’t ask them the same question in the same order, I tried to take a point that the first person had made while answering the question and direct that point as a question to the second person.  This allowed the second responder to answer the same base question but provide their opinion on an aspect of the first answer.  With two panelists this was ok, but I do believe it would have worked better with three.

And finally, I tried to incorporate the questions from the audience into my questions as we went through the discussion.  I had prepared standard questions that the panelists were provided with prior to the night, but in the end I didn’t use many of these as I used their answers as a springboard to the next question.  At the end of the session, we did go through most of the remaining questions from the audience.

The whole panel discussion went for 40 minutes, which is the upper limit given by the Pathways project.  The discussion was closed with each of the panelists giving their top three tips.

Feedback from the audience was very positive, and as a moderator, I felt that I had achieved my goals and also learnt a lot about moderating a panel discussion.


Julie Dall, DTM



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Christmas windup at Reflections Gavel Club

Brenda and I were invited to a fabulous Indian Dinner at Fusion 6 where we enjoyed the company of our 5 Gaveliers and their parents.

It was meant to be the end of the Reflections Gavel Club. All five families came to the dinner to support the kids and say goodbye, but how can you leave such adorable children? Brenda and I decided we had to continue the club because we enjoy the kids so much, but perhaps at a less frequent interval, monthly rather than weekly. As the kids are from Piara Waters, Morley, Bullcreek, Floreat and Midland we decided to continue with zoom.

Unfortunately, we do not get to see and interact with the parents, so we had better set up more dinners at great Indian restaurants.

Enjoy your holidays.

John Palmer DTM

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Submitting Articles to Black Swan

Want to submit an article next month?If you have any news, stories and tips that would like to share with your fellow Toastmasters within District 17, write to us by the end of the month! Complete the Black Swan Submission Form and email to


  • Articles must have a relevant news category
  • Articles must be relevant or of clear interest to Toastmaster members.
  • Articles must reflect the TI core values; Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence.
  • Length must not exceed 300 words
  • Please supply images with the best picture quality available
  • Supply names of people shown in images.

Mina Cho, DTM
Black Swan Editor

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