History of Australian Rostrum
A Brief History of Australian Rostrum
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Australian Rostrum is an association of public speaking clubs, founded on 21 July 1930. The original Rostrum club ("The Rostrum") was founded in Manchester, United Kingdom on 21 July 1923. The other surviving descendants of "The Rostrum" are "Rochdale Rostrum" in the Greater Manchester area founded in 1978; and (currently dormant) "Wellington Rostrum Club" in New Zealand. Rostrum is the longest running public speaking organisation in the world.
Rostrum clubs aim to help their members improve their speaking and meeting skills. They do this primarily through regular club meetings and less frequent competitionsThe main national competition for members is the "Sidney Wicks Speaking Competition", held about every 6 years. State and territory competitions are held throughout the year.
The other main competition is the annual Rostrum Voice of Youth (RVOY). This is open to all high school students across Australia. It involves a prepared speech and an impromptu speech.
Rostrum was founded by Sidney Wicks, an author, journalist for the Manchester Gaurdiner and public relations practitioner. He believed that people needed to think through their own decision-making rather than accept the press or other interested parties. He founded a club in Manchester to encourage men to listen to many sources before formulating their own opinions, and then to speak their minds to groups of others in a way that would encourage them to listen. The club began as an offshoot of the Manchester YMCA Businessmen's Speaking Class.
I promise not to be silent when I ought to speak.
After the first meeting under a yew tree at Greendale Farm near Manchester, meetings were held in the local YMCA building. In 1924 a young Australian Engineer training in Manchester, Alan Crook (later MBE), joined Rostrum while studying at the University of Manchester.
Highlights of the following years
Rostrum Club formed in Sydney on 21 July 1930, coincidently exactly 7 years after the original club. 3 additional Rostrum clubs established in Sydney. In May 1934, Melbourne Rostrum Club was formed. A second Rostrum club was formed in Melbourne in July 1935. The first South Australian meeting was held in Adelaide on 18 February 1936 in the inner suburb of North Terrace. Queensland's first club was initiated on 6 May 1937. By November that year Brisbane's second club was launched.
An Australian Rostrum Council (ARC) was established on 5 January 1938, bringing together the state Daises.
The first club in Tasmania started in 1947 and Western Australia's first club was founded on 21 May 1948.
However, there was some surprising growth to the north, with the Changi Rostrum Club running in the Changi POW camp from 1943-1944 .
The second Rostrum Club in the UK was started in 1951. By this time, there were nearly 100 Rostrum Clubs in Australia.
The ACT's first club was founded on March 3 1953. In 1956, Jo Davis began a speaking competition for Victorian members. This competition later took his name as the Jo Davis Cup after his death in 1964.
Take the Chair, a book on meeting procedure was written and sold over 90,000 copies. Have something to say: a text book for public speakers was written by ACT member Laurie Burgess.
Chairmanship and Public Speaking was written by NSW member Evan Bowen-Thomas.
Australian Rostrum ran youth competitions and in 1974, the various NSW local competitions were combined into a statewide "Voice of Youth" competition. In 1975, Voice of Youth went national.
In 1978 the national constitution was changed to allow the entry of women. Within a few months there were female members in all states except Western Australia, which remained male only until 1986.
History of ACT Rostrum was published.
The first Sidney Wicks Speaking Competition was held in Sydney in 1980 to celebrate 50 years of Rostrum in Australia. Towards Better Meetings and Personal Development Program were published.
Brighter Rostrum meetings: how to make your Rostrum Club meetings more interesting and History of ACT Rostrum, Club 8, 1965-1986 were released in 1986.
Member's Development Program released in 1986. Excellence for Communicators by Laurie Burgess released in 1987. This book was followed in 1988 by How Do I? and Word master: word a day calendar.
The second Sidney Wicks competition was held in August 1988. In 1989, the book A Critic's Bag of Remedies was produced.
In 1990, a new version of Take the Chair was released.
Sydney hosted the third Sidney Wicks competition in 1994 and A brief history of Rostrum Club No. 3 (Brisbane) was published.
In 1997, New Zealand Rostrum declared Peter Biggs "Speaker of the Decade". Not to be silent: a history of Rostrum in Tasmania, Meetings Made Easy and Tips on Public Speaking and Meeting Procedure.
1999 was the year of the fourth Sidney Wicks competition.
2000 saw the release of The torch of truth and freedom: the South Australian Rostrum history, 1936-1999 and Tips on Public Speaking and Meeting Procedure: Volume 2.
In 2005 the fifth Sidney Wicks competition was held. In 2005, there were over 140 clubs in Australia, collectively containing nearly 1700 members. In 2011 the sixth Sidney Wicks competition was held in Adelaide.
Over 3000 students participate in the Voice of Youth each year, covering over 500 schools.