Black Swan Newsletter

The official newsletter of Toastmasters International District 17.


District News
A Toast to Prisoner Learners – Casuarina Gavel Club
Reports, Club Success Plans and District Meetings
DTM Breakfast
Speech Contests in the COVID world
Mentoring Workshop
York Open House
Club News
Curtin Toastmasters Goes Live
Hybrid Meetings
An Epic Fundraising Collaboration
Membership 101
Member Stories
A Small Gesture
Submitting Articles to Black Swan


District news





A Toast to Prisoner Learners – Casuarina Gavel Club

We were very proud to represent D17 Toastmasters and giving back to the community in the hope that the prisoners will learn skills to be renewed citizens of the world.

Please see below article published on the Department of Justice intranet regarding our role as D17 Toastmasters. Together with my team, Kevin Sansome, Judith Allen and Luke George, we conducted a Speechcraft course at Casuarina for prisoners at Casuarina Prison in January 2020. They were so keen that they wanted a Gavel club to continue practicing their new found skills. So I created Casuarina Gavel Club and we started the club in July. Last week, we were invited to conduct the Club meeting in front of a large audience of 70 people for Adult Learners’ Week – Renew You at Casuarina Prison and it was a huge success.

– Julianna Kelly

After a Welcome to Country by a Noongar prisoner, other prisoners who are members of Casuarina’s Gavel Club – part of Toastmasters International – gave an enthusiastic audience some insights into the club’s activities. This is the first year Toastmasters have set up a club in a metropolitan prison.

A Noongar prisoner who was chosen to give the ‘inspiration’ speech at the presentation said being a Gavel Club member had given him a voice.

“I’ve only been to meetings four times and I’ve learned a lot about making eye contact, using body language and projecting my voice and reading an audience,” he said.

In his speech to an audience of about 70 other prisoners and staff including Deputy Superintendent Sean Kelly he said: “I want to use my voice to help my brothers. I was a broken man and it took a lot of courage for me to have a good look at myself and how I’ve lived in the past, how I was living in the present and how I will live in the future. I was struggling with my identity as a Noongar man, lost and confused and I couldn’t see my way out”.

He encouraged his fellow prisoners to take a good look at themselves and to never give up.

DS Kelly, as a ‘table topic’ speaker on the Renew You theme, said prisoners were in the driver’s seat of their lives. “You are the master of the journey and while you’re here you have the opportunity to grab as much education and training as you can and choose the destination of your journey,” he said.

Gavel Club prisoners also contributed to table topics on the theme, while another gave a very funny ‘icebreaker’ speech about being a child fishing with his dad and a trick his father played on an elderly angler who had lost his front teeth because he had been so seasick. He had the audience entranced.

Campus Manager Gurmeet Singh said mastering public speaking was a vital skill for prisoners, providing skills and confidence to effectively express themselves in any situation.

“We’re very lucky that Kevin Sansome and Juliana Kelly from Toastmasters give up their time to share their knowledge with the prisoners. It’s amazing how fast some of the prisoners have developed in confidence and ability and taken on roles such as grammarian and timer and evaluator.”

Juliana from Toastmasters said one of the prisoners in the group had said he was surprised how much better he was getting on with the Prison Officers, because he was using more appropriate language.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to enable them to communicate effectively,” she said. “This will help in so many situations such as job interviews and even in personal relationships.”

Director Prisoner Education, Training and Employment Christine Laird said the rate of return to prison decreases proportionally to the amount of education prisoners complete in prison, with those who do return coming back on less serious charges.

“Many prisoners come to prison education centres carrying memories of negative, unsuccessful experiences of learning,” she said. “They are often coping with a history of alcohol or drug abuse, adjusting to medication for physical or mental health issues, as well as adapting to incarceration.

“Prison education staff develop units and courses to meet the specific needs of the prison population and are trained to respond to diversity and individual needs, creating a safe and positive learning environment.”

  • Taken from Department of Justice Newsletter, 7 September

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Reports, Club Success Plans and District Meetings

Sometimes it can feel like the requirement for reports is never-ending! Why do we have so many reports? Budgets, Area Director Reports, Division Director Reports, Club Success Plans, and the list goes on. All of the information contained in all of the reports assists both the District Executive and Toastmasters International with forward planning. The Trio appreciates everyone doing their part to ensure that these important documents are submitted on time.


You know the saying, failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s been shown that the clubs experiencing the most success and seeing real development improvements in their members, have prepared and implement a Club Success Plan.

Has your Club completed a Club Success Plan? You can download a simple plan from the District website and get started right away https://toastmastersd17.org/resource/club-success-plan/. Don’t forget to share your Club Success Plan with your Area Director. They are there to assist your Club and the Club Success Plan gives them a great idea of where you are and where you are heading.


The first District Executive Committee Meeting (DECM) was held on Saturday 5 September.
The Virtual District Council Meeting will be held on Saturday 19 September.
See the District Calendar on the District website for details of all District events https://toastmastersd17.org/resource/district-calendar/


– Cherie Wallace DTM
District 17 Administration Manager

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DTM Breakfast

Please come along and support the newest winners of the DTM in District17.

Congratulations once again to all winners who have achieved the pinnacle of Awards inside of Toastmasters.

We are pleased to advise that District 17 has identified Saturday morning 12 September 2020 at the Pagoda Resort & Spa 112 Melville Parade Como as the Venue for each winner to be presented with their DTM Award in 2019-2020.

Please register your interest and the event has a cover charge of $35 to fund the breakfast starting at 8am to 10.30am.


Each winner will receive a DTM Pin, a DTM Medal and certificate and will provide a short three minute speech on their journey to achieve this prestigious Award.

We look forward to see you at the Pagoda on 12 September to give each winner the accolades they deserve for winning their DTM award.


Event: DTM Breakfast

Date: Saturday 12 September 2020
Time: 8.00 am – 10.30 am
Venue: Pagoda Resort, 112 Melville Rd, Como

Cost: $35  

RSVP: Through Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/dtm-awards-event-saturday-12-september-2020-tickets-115463102247

Contact: sansomek@gmail.com

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Speech Contests in the COVID world

Leading Lights last meeting aimed to educate Area Directors how to hold great speech contests.

A big question asked – why should a club member participate?

Answer – it gives them another chance to grow, to learn and to challenge themselves.

Go for it.

Date: Thursday 17 September 2020
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Venue: Tom Dadour Community Centre, 363 Bagot Road, Subiaco.

Cost: Nil

Contact: gavin.hyslop@icloud.com

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Mentoring Workshop

The Leading Lights Club is an advanced club focused on serving our District 17 leaders past, present and emerging, particularly on assisting area directors.

Each month we have a themed club meeting with one workshop and two speeches with each followed by a 10 min facilitated discussion, and a 15-20 min Q&A session on burning issues.

The Leading Lights Club invites you to join our September face-to-face club meeting themed on Mentoring. 

The meeting agenda and details are as follows:

  • Venue: Tom Dadour Community Centre, 363 Bagot Road Subiaco.
  • Date: Thursday 17 September 2020
  • Time: Please arrive at 6.15 pm for a 6.30 to 8.05 pm meeting.

To join the meeting, please contact our VPM Ross Wilkinson at toastmasterross@hotmail.com. Looking forward to seeing you in the meeting.

Also feel free to forward this meeting invite to anyone that may be interested in attending.


Leading Lights Toastmasters Club

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York Open House

Mundaring Toastmasters Club is nicely placed within easy reach of Perth and the Wheatbelt Region. The Club meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month.

With three current members living in York and travelling to Mundaring regularly for meetings, the Club has decided to use any 5th Tuesday as an opportunity to reach out to the community of York.

The next Open House style meeting will be held on Tuesday 29 September at 7.00pm at the York Recreation Centre. If you know anyone in the York area, for example Northam, Beverley, Toodyay, etc., please let them know that we’ll be in town and would love to meet them.

Mundaring Toastmasters Club has proudly weathered COVID-19 by going 100% online during the worst of the pandemic and has continued to meet in a hybrid format once we were able to see each other in person again.

This has been a great experience with most meetings having at least one, if not two, members Zooming in to our meetings. We’ve found that all roles can be performed by the Zoomer, even Timekeeper and General Evaluator! It took a little bit of tweaking, but with two laptops and well-placed tables and chairs, every meeting is engaging and interesting for all attendees.

Mundaring Toastmasters is online at https://mundaring.toastmastersclubs.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/mundaringtoastmasters/, come and visit!

Event: York Open House

Date: Tuesday 29 September 2020
Time: 7.00pm
Venue: York Recreation Centre. Barker St (via Forrest St), York

Contact: cheriedwallace@gmail.com

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Club News





Curtin Toastmasters Goes Live

Do YOU know the real story behind why your members joined your Toastmasters club?

Curtin Toastmasters is a diverse group of students, staff, ex-students and obedient husbands AKA Tom Bielski!

To get to know club members and to facilitate club growth, a weekly 5-10 minute Facebook Live is scheduled to share the story behind the club members association with Curtin Toastmasters.

Each Friday afternoon, a club member is interviewed to find out their back story. Members enjoy it, and a steady stream of guests, at least 3-4 each week is coming in.

Facebook lives are so beneficial to grow awareness of your club.  


They create a better relationship with your audience. When members watch the live or the replay and comment on and like it, it’s promoted to their friends who are very likely to have a higher level of interest.

Facebook Live videos provide an intimate level of engagement. Interested friends can interact with your stories in real-time, or watch the replay as it suits them. Members can share the videos with their friends and tag their interested friends to get greater reach.

Facebook like Lives and promote you to others who have similar interests. With the Facebook algorithm pushing lives out to a broader audience, you get to leverage organic growth.

I’m enjoying getting to know our members on a more personal level and others are getting to know them too through watching the lives.

For example, I learned how Tom loves mentoring, which is what keeps him at Curtin Toastmasters. It was fantastic to promote the support and care this provides to new members who join our club.

If you want to know more, reach out.

– Miriam Smout

Curtin Toastmasters VPPR

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Hybrid Meetings

Strange times we live in. The global Covid pandemic reached alarming levels early this year, impacting people, businesses and the economy everywhere. The pandemic also hit Toastmasters clubs just as April renewals were getting under way, with many clubs losing a large portion of members. My club, Sunday Sundowners Toastmasters club was no different, with less than half of our members deciding to renew their membership.

Like most clubs, we responded quickly by moving our meetings to Zoom. We set up a dedicated Personal Room for our meeting to ensure that the meeting link remained the same every meeting. We published our meeting information on our website, on Facebook, and on the Online Meetings Spreadsheet posted by Matthew Kleinosky on the Official Toastmasters International Facebook page.

Our President, Carole Bruce also reached out to all past members to encourage them to join us online, in particular to those had moved away from Perth.

In the first four weeks, we had visits from past members from the Eastern states, from Japan and Brazil. Eventually one from Adelaide and one from Melbourne decided to rejoin our club.

Over the next few weeks we started getting more visits from members in as far away places as Taiwan and Romania, Peru and Canada, Japan and Zimbabwe, thanks to the Online Spreadsheet, and thanks to the listing of Online Meeting on Easy Speak.

Eventually some members from abroad decided to join us; firstly three from Africa, then three from Japan, followed quickly by three from the US. Together with our two members from the Eastern States, our club now has 11 members from outside Perth. Since late April, we have had over 20 attendees at every online meeting, with at least one overseas guest at each meeting.

One of the surprising benefits of online meetings is the ability to give each other immediate feedback and support through the chat window. Our members also like to stay back after meeting to find out more about each other and our different cultures.

With phase four relaxation of restrictions in place, many of our local members wanted to start meeting in person. And so on the 23rd of August we held our first hybrid meeting, with seven members present in person, and eight members joining online.

The trick to a successful hybrid meeting is to ensure that the online audience can see the speaker as well as the in-situ audience.

For our next meeting, we will place three cameras around the room and encourage all present members to log in online as well.

– Tom Bielski
President, Sunday Sundowners Toastmasters Club

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An Epic Fundraising Collaboration

Young Guns Toastmasters had our very first fundraiser collaboration event with Rotaract Club of Perth on Tuesday 8th September at the Public House. The Public Speaking Masterclass was a roaring success! Together, we raised almost $700 for CARAD, the Centre for asylum seekers, refugees and detainees. It was a wonderful night of networking with members from various Toastmaster clubs, Rotary clubs, Rotaract clubs and members of the public all getting to know one another.

The audience were treated to well crafted speeches from our guest speakers. Kym Godfrey from Banyandah TM, an experienced speech pathologist shared how having good posture affects our voice projection and vocal variety. Pascale Amberville-Colby from Gourmet Guns & Roses TM got the audience up on their feet to learn about body language and use of stage. Kieran Browning, a stand up comedian shared his secrets on how to give a humorous speech and Shil Shanghavi, a public speaking coach and TEDx trainer inspired us all with his journey on how public speaking has changed his life. 

Toastmaster Alex Price kept the positive energy flowing throughout the night. In the end, all we can see is big smiles, fist pumps, and a few empty pints. A sign of a memorable night enjoyed by all!

– Jade Chan
Young Guns Toastmasters Club

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Membership 101

TLI Training Group delivered a very successful online workshop recently via Zoom; Membership 101. We were pleased to have 60 registrations, with almost all registrants attending on the day.

Presentations included “Member Retention” by Ross Wilkinson, “How to plan and run an Open House” by Tim Blackburn and “Convert guests to members” by Leonor Ragan. The panel discussion “Finding new members” was facilitated by Cherie and the panellists were Vijayakumar Vijayaratnam, Maree Pickens and Kym Godfrey.

The most important takeaways from the workshop were:

  • Do not discount anyone as a possible member.
  • Invite people from all walks of life to be a guest at one of your meetings.
  • Always ask your guest if the meeting met their expectations; if the answer is “yes” ask them to join.
  • Have guest packs ready at your meetings and always make sure that there is someone to greet guests.
  • Follow up with members you have seen in a while and encourage them to re-engage with the club.
  • Survey your members regularly to ensure that their Toastmasters needs are being met.
  • Planning and running an Open House is a great way to introduce new people to Toastmasters.
  • An effective Open House takes about 4-6 weeks to plan.

If you are interested in developing your presentation skills, contact TLI Training Group at https://tli.toastmastersclubs.org/

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Member Stories

A Small Gesture

It is some years ago now since I sat and listened in awe and admiration as a young woman delivered her impassioned story, of a ‘Small Gesture’. Telling what a difference a small gesture can make to a day or someone’s life. It was the District final of the International Speech contest.

I have repeated this sentiment since then and have tried to practice what I ‘preached’.

What better time for a small gesture of goodwill and reaching out than in these unprecedented times. I am sure many of you too do these small gestures and acts of kindness.

Small gestures; taking the neighbours rubbish bin out for collection, having finished my own garden popped over to next door and attacked their weeds.  Pottering in the flower beds at my local café and sharing gardening tips, very rewarding.

Plus, bonus, the Toastmaster magazine is on display inside the café, holding its own with the array of other reading material.

Small gestures reaching out to friends, past Toastmasters and Speechcraft contacts.  I have gathered an extended circle of acquaintances over my 15 Toastmaster years and not in any particular order have dropped a line ‘hello, how are you?’.

I have been rewarded with a variety of responses and can share the happy news 3 babies have been born recently (not to the same Toastmaster); others have changed situations and circumstances but are making the best of things.

As we move forward in these unusual and challenging times, a small gesture, reaching out to your Members may make a difference.

Be prepared that not everyone is ‘travelling well’ and might not connect but importantly your small gesture, an act of kindness is simply that.

A small gesture, what will you do!


Robyn Lloyd, DTM

Area Director C3 District 17 2020/2021

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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 submission form and email to blackswan@toastmastersd17.org

Black Swan Submission Form

  • 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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