and where we fit into Rotary.

Bob Osbourne, aPast-President of PAV, gives an account of the history of Probus

We all enjoy our membership in Probus. We are active retirees who enjoy each others company, and the activities conducted by our clubs. Often, we don’t understand how Probus came about, and what the connection is with Rotary. The following gives the history of Probus and the Rotary connection. If it was not for Rotary, Probus would not exist.


A Brief History of Probus.


The Probus movement had its genesis in two ancestors – both in the U.K. and both established by Rotary Clubs. The first was known as the Campus Club. It was formed in 1965 by the Rotary Club of Welwyn Garden City, 20 miles north of London with Fred Carnhill as the driving force. [ Its name was derived from the area of the town in which it was conceived – the Campus.] The second with Harold Blanchard as the catalyst, was formed by the Rotary Club of Caterham in 1966 and was named the Probus Club, from the “pro” in professional and the “bus’ in business, which also made up the Latin word from which the word “probity’ is derived. Both were formed to meet the need for companionship of their peers and mental stimulation for retired business and professional men.


Since then, Probus has spread around the world. It moved first within the United Kingdom, then to other European countries, on to New Zealand and Australia and then South Africa. More recently, to North America, Africa, India, Asia, Cyprus, South America and Japan. The first club in our region was the Probus Club of Kapiti Coast, New Zealand, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Paraparaumu in 1974. The first in Australia was the Probus Club of Hunters Hill, NSW., sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hunters Hill in 1976 with the help of the Rotary Club of Dumbarton, Scotland. Since the first clubs were established in Australia and New Zealand, Probus has grown at an astonishing rate. By the turn of the century there were in excess of 2000 clubs in the region; and they continue to be formed at the average rate of approximately one per week.


In February, 1981, five Rotarians in the Sydney area, all of whom had been involved in the formation of Probus Clubs, got together to share their experiences with the intention of preparing some basic information for Rotary Clubs contemplating  the formation of Probus clubs. They were District 9680 Past Governor R.S.(Bob) Burnett, Rotary Club of Turramurra; Past President W.A.(Bill) Jacobs, Rotary Club of Hunters Hill, Chairman of the District 9680 Probus Committee; C.A. ( Cec ) Short, Rotary Club of Turramurra and member of the District 9680 Committee; District 9680 Past Governor J.W.( Jim) Stanford, Rotary Club of Padstow; and C.S.( Cliff ) Johnstone, Rotary Club of Sydney, Chairman of District 9750 Probus Committee.


Based on the growth of Probus in the region from two to 44 clubs in a comparatively short time, they predicted a rapid escalation in the future growth rate. Reporting their findings to the governors of the three districts centred on the Sydney metropolitan and near country areas, they recommended the provision of an information service to Rotary Clubs throughout the region.

The result was the Probus Information Centre, now Probus South Pacific Ltd (or PSPL for short), which was established by authority of all the district governors in the region to assist with planning and promoting to ensure steady growth and maximum efficiency in the use of Rotary resources. PSPL has close liaison with Rotary District Chairman and committees throughout the region, providing training, resources and assistance in the extension of Probus.


Every Rotary District has a Rotary District Probus Chairman, to advise clubs when requested. Rotary District Probus Chairman, should be the link between Rotary and Probus. Probus clubs are also asked to maintain the link with the Rotary Club which formed them. PSPL is the delegated authority to hold in trust the Probus name, Probus emblem and Probus Rendezvous Trademarks in Australia and new Zealand.


PSPL has a standard constitution, which all clubs must follow, to be accredited as a Probus club. Club bylaws are made by each individual club, in a autonomous way, provided that they do not contravene the PSPL standard constitution. Many agree that we are too structured as an organisation, but PSPL as the parent body, organize such things as member insurance and prepares information and merchandise which is available to all clubs.


PSPL produce an 80 page magazine which is available for all Probians at a most inexpensive cost. This provides information updates, club happenings and other information. There are six issues per year.


Recently PSPL has extended to the Philippines, where 9 clubs have been formed.

The Probus Story; the growth and development of Probus in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands 1974 – 2006; written by Rotary District 9690 Past Governor, Paul Henningham was published along with a collectors set of Probus Stamps celebration 30 years of Probus in Australia. The Probus web site – www.probussouthpacific.orghas been developed and hosts many club sites.


Information days in each Rotary District are now conducted by Rotary District Probus Chairman. All clubs are urged to participate in these days.



The idea of Probus Clubs coming together on an annual basis, goes back as far as 1987 when Perth organized a “September fest” and 1988 saw a “Hand clasp” event in Queensland to co-inside with EXPO 1988.


The first Rendezvous as such was conducted in the Barossa Valley in 1991, They have been conducted at various locations in Australia and New Zealand in most years since then.




As Probus clubs grew, interest groups developed for clubs to exchange ideas on improvement of clubs. The Victorian Probus Association developed from a “Hand clasp” meeting on the Mornington Peninsula. Queensland and Western Australia have similar bodies. Other states have some regional interest forums but not formal associations as such.


The Probus Association of Victoria Inc. (PAV) was founded in 1983 and provides a forum for Office Bearers of affiliated Clubs whereby they may exchange ideas and information, thus encouraging the advancement of Probus ideals and programs.


Membership is open to any Probus Club in the State of Victoria. The current PAV membership amounts to around 420 clubs. Cost of membership takes the form of an annual levy of 60 cents per individual member.


The Association is NOT involved in the creation of Probus Policy. This is the domain of Probus South Pacific Ltd., which is the administrative and service centre for the South Pacific region. Therefore, management of administrative and insurance matters is not part of the function of the State Association.


Whilst it is compulsory to affiliate with PSPL to be recognised as a Probus Club, it is not compulsory to be a member of an association or interest group. It is however strongly recommended, since clubs can gather to exchange ideas and concerns which are forwarded to PSPL if necessary.


Friendship days and other activities such as Bowls, Golf, and Caravanning are conducted within the umbrella of PAV. Also an annual guest speaker and outing list is provided along with a free bi-monthly magazine.




In the U.K. where Probus started, the clubs are totally autonomous and are free to make meeting times and their own rules. However, the growth in the U.K. has not been as large as in the South Pacific Region. Probus is also developing well in Canada, and exists in a small way in many other countries.


Some interesting statistics include the following:


WORLD WIDE – approximately 4000 clubs and about 300,00 members.

SOUTH PACIFIC REGION – approximately 2100 clubs and about 190,00 members.


Thus the organized structure of Probus in the South Pacific Region, whilst having rules for us to follow, has fostered the most dramatic growth of Probus with more than 50% of the world total of Probus clubs and members being in this Region.