The official name of this exchange is Australia-USA Wiradjuri/Oceti Sakowin Rotary Group Study Exchange. Phase 1 of this grant project will support the Rotary District 9700 delegation of young indigenous Australian professionals to Rotary District 5610 to experience a different indigenous culture and to share experiences and connections to demonstrate the way Rotary works towards building understanding, peace and vocational excellence. This is planned to occur April 2020, ending at the District Conference in Hot Springs.  

Phase 2 of this grant project will be to send counterpart Native Tribal Americans to Australia in March 2021, to mirror the experience of the Phase 1 Aboriginal Australians. The Wiradjuri are a major Aboriginal indigenous tribe of southwest Australia. The 2016 census counted 786,685 Aboriginal people from more than 250 language groups or 3.3% of Australia’s population (about double the percentage of American Indians to total US population). This map shows the area the team will experience in New South Wales. 

The Native American leaders in Omniceye Rotary, Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP), Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), Oglala Lakota College, and a number of other organizations will be consulted to provide personal connections to recruit applicants. A short form application is available from the contacts listed below. After collecting applications, interviews will be held to answer questions about the exchange and familiarize the Group Study Exchange (GSE) team with the exchange details.

How did this exchange come about? Following the 2014 International Rotary conference in Australia, a group of US Rotarians from District 5610, were hosted by Australian Rotarians from District 9700. They visited New South Wales, including Parkes, Australia, viewing aboriginal/settler primary school program and the Parkes Rotary Peace Precinct carvings by aboriginal artists. Parkes is also a Rotary Peace Community. In 2015 a delegation from District 9700 visited South Dakota and were reverse hosted by District 5610 Rotarians. The group began their visit in Rapid City and the Black Hills, hosted by Rotary clubs throughout the District, and culminated in the District 5610 conference in Pierre, SD. After the conclusion of both exchanges, a plan was formalized to create a Group Study Exchange between the two entities, comprised of non-Rotarian members. At the District 5610 conference held September 28-29, 2018 a number of the District 5610 leadership including Lorenz, Winter, Linda Peterson PDG and Zone 29 Public Image Coordinator and Pat Sutliff, PDG and Chair of the Rushmore Rotary international committee, met together with Katus to brainstorm follow-up steps. Peterson and Katus volunteered to draft a District 5610 grant request for funding of the first phase of this project to begin in 2019. Grants were approved for $2500 for Phase 1 and $10,850 for Phase 2. Cash and in-kind contributions to match this grant are welcomed. 

The GSE team will attend Rotary meetings as opportunities present during location in all areas. Rotarians and Clubs in District 5610 are invited to participate in home-hosting, touring and hosting  team members at club meetings. When the route is drafted, clubs along the tour will be contacted to help participate. 

Nation-building and vocational development for both indigenous peoples of Australia and Native Americans in South Dakota will be beneficial to all the communities impacted. Clubs and leaders in Rotary from around District 5610 have desired a better relationship with our native population and this GSE exchange is the next step in fostering a closer relationship and cooperation between clubs and the reservations’ population. Other Rotary clubs from around the US have projects already in several locations on the reservations. There is considerable international interest in this exchange program.

Project Contacts:

Linda Peterson, Rapid City Rushmore Rotary, PDG 2014-15, RPIC Zone 27/29 2018-20
Home 605-341-5006, Cell 605-390-0800 Email:
Tom Katus, Rapid City Rushmore Rotary, Omniceye Committee
Home 605-718-0545, Cell 605-391-7588 Email:

Click Here for Australia-USA Wiradjuri/Oceti Sakowin Rotary Group Study Exchange Team Member Application