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Guest Speakers

8624189 © James Knopf |  

February Guest Speaker: Eric Hiam from Balance Financial Solutions

Topic: Making decisions about financial choices, understanding these choices and Aged Care advice

 Balance Retirement & Aged Care Specialists is a privately owned financial company that has specialised in financial planning, aged care, retirement villages, private home care, and estate management for over 20 years.

Their role is to help clients navigate through their later stages of life, and as everyone’s financial situation is different, they use their own system that they have created to show clients the options that they have available to them and how it will affect their personal finances. As their clients want options when making choices for their future, they help guide them by providing several options to help make choices easier.


There is no guest speaker in March as we hold our AGM.


April Guest Speaker: Ian Hemphill

 Topic: Herbs and Spices

Herbie has long been the nickname of Ian Hemphill, one of Australia's foremost culinary herb and spice experts. Ian Hemphill can’t remember when herbs and spices were not a part of his life. The younger son of John and Rosemary Hemphill, who pioneered Australia’s love of herbs and spices in the 1950’s, Ian earned his pocket money picking herbs and remembers many a season when the family home was strewn with bunches of drying culinary produce. Ian worked with his parents for many years, managed a spice company in Singapore and was a senior manager for a multinational food company in Australia. In 1997 Ian and his wife Liz opened a specialty spice shop in the Sydney suburb of Rozelle, which bears the nickname Ian has had since school, Herbie’s. Ian enjoys sharing his lifelong obsession with herbs and spices, and is a prolific communicator about the world of spices in particular.


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July Guest Speaker:  Dani and Meg from Stitches Collection

Topic: Comfort Buddies

Stitches Collection® are a unique series of trademarked therapy dolls designed and made in Australia through the Creative Groundz Studio program.The dolls are made by our amazing, diverse crew, including those with disabilities and mental health, to encourage dialogue with kids, their workers, and the general community on health, social, and mental health issues.The Stitches Collection® designs have been used by DanielleRG, lead artist of Creative Groundz Studio and Western Sydney community artist, in her youth and community engagement projects since 2010. Building on techniques taught to children to design characters, the Stitches Collection® have been brought to life in the community from the community.  The first Collection of 18 dolls was publicly launched in June 2019 in Blacktown, Western Sydney. As a not-for-profit community initiative, part of the proceeds of all Stitches Collection® dolls support the delivery of community projects in Lalor Park under Creative Groundz Studio and Common Groundz Community Cafe (see 'Our Community' below). With each doll representing its own vulnerability story, each Stitches Collection® character are looking for a friend to love and hug.

Click here for more information. 


August Guest Speaker: Matt Murphy

Topic:  Rum: A Distilled History of Colonial Australia

Australia and its formation - through the distorted view of a rum bottle.

At school, Matt Murphy failed English and couldn't see the point of history. He became a firie and has been serving in Sydney's inner city for 33 years. He is now also a part time historian and teacher, tolerating the attitudes of kids towards history that he used to share. 

  • Could the Rum Rebellion have been averted if Major Johnston wasn't too hungover to meet Governor Bligh?
  • Would the Eureka Stockade have played out differently if the rebels weren't pissed?
  • How were prisoners to get drunk if Macquarie closed the only pub in the jail?
  • And why should sailors under fourteen be deprived of their sixteen shots of rum per day?

These are just some of the questions answered in Matt Murphy's account of this country's colonial history through the distorted lens of a rum bottle. Brimming with detailed research and irreverent character sketches, Murphy looks at not just how much rum was drunk in colonial Australia (a lot!), but also the lengths people went to get their hands on it, the futile efforts of the early governors to control it and the often disastrous and/or absurd consequences of its consumption. They are consequences that are felt today. Murphy goes beyond foundational stories, to look at distant and recent history, Indigenous consumption, the temperance movement, lockout laws, and the nation's modern reputation. And if that's too much nation-building for your tipple, there's always the vexed issue of politicians urinating on the parliamentary carpet. So here's to rum, for making bad decisions look like a good idea at the time.


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There is no guest speaker in December as we hold our Probus Christmas party and raffle: Merry Christmas to all!



May Guest Speaker: Graeme Simms 

Topic: Arthur Stace: The Eternity Man

For over 37 years, a mysterious, one word message - 'Eternity' - appeared on steps and footpaths around the streets of Sydney.  For many years, its meaning and its author remained unknown, until a small, essentially private little man, named Arthur Stace, gradually revealed himself.  He had had a dreadful childhood and early life, had been a petty criminal, a hopeless alcoholic and metho addict, until his life was turned around in remarkable circumstances and he spent the rest of his life spreading his heartfelt message.  Graham met Arthur Stace, and recounts his story.


June Guest Speakers: Leesa Kotis and Susie Ferreira

Topic: Organised Ambience (the Clutter Buster and interior design)

From a young age Susie has been a professional performer singing and dancing in various roles catering to a wide range of audiences. The stage is a comfortable avenue for hosting and public speaking. Her educational background ensures that she is adept and quick to problem solve, and naturally interact with children and families from all walks of life. Susie's innate passion of interiors has recently completely consumed her, and is extremely keen in helping those who truly value their 'sacred spaces' in bringing joy and serenity to their homes or work space.


Leesa Kotis's journey in becoming a Professional Organiser started when she was about 9 years old.  As a child she would organise areas of her room on weekends. Nothing was left untouched. Her drawers, study desk, her wardrobe and even cupboards located above her wardrobe.  This was a dangerous exercise for a nine or ten-year-old.  She would stand on an old chair and add a copy of an old White Pages phone book to add that extra bit of height.  She made it through her childhood unscathed, but extremely organised.  She didn’t understand it then but being organised gave her a sense of calm.

Fast forward, helping individuals and families to become organised has been Leesa's passion for many years now.  It gives her immense joy to see people achieve their goals, some of whom begin their journey with a lot of apprehension and anxiety.


July Guest Speaker: Paul Hollis

Topic:  Stroke Safe 

The Stroke Foundation is a national charity that partners with the community to prevent, treat and beat stroke. They stand alongside stroke survivors and their families, healthcare professionals and researchers. They build community awareness and foster new thinking and innovative treatments. They support survivors on their journey to live the best possible life after stroke.


August Guest Speaker: Annika Nystrom

Topic: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Australian Wildlife Conservancy is the biggest private (not for profit) owner and/or manager of land for conservation in Australia. As a leader in the field, their mission is the effective conservation of all Australian nayive animal species and the habitats in which they live.

September Guest Speaker: John Donohoe

Topic: The Bushranger, Ben Hall and the Search for his Loot

John Donohoe has had a career in sales and marketing, mainly in the chemical and related industries. In midlife, John realised that there were other things in his life that he wanted to try. History, particularly Australian Bushranger History, took him on a journey to uncover and attempt to understand the life and times of Bushranging in the 1860s. Ben Hall particularly stood out as a man of interest who deserved a thorough investigation.

The passion to reveal the mysteries of the past remains.

John Donohoe has formal qualifications in Science and Sales and Marketing. He lives in Epping, Sydney, when he is not on a field trip. He also spends some of his time as a current director of The Epping Club.


 October Member Speaker: Val 

Topic: Val's very interesting life experiences



 November Guest Speaker: Paul Kearney

Topic: Music of the 60s