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Special Interest Matter - 75th Anniversary of the Launceston Ionian Club

Tuesday 26 October 2021

[11.19 a.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Earlier this month the Launceston Ionian Club celebrated its 75th anniversary, a benchmark that very few organisations reach let alone continue to thrive at. For anyone unaware the Ionian Club is an Australia wide women's social network which provides an opportunity to make new friends. They welcome women who are newcomers to an area and assist them to meet new people, as well as welcoming women who have new life circumstances, wanting to join a women's group.

The first Ionian Club was founded by Phyllis McDonald in Launceston on 3 October 1946. New to Launceston, Phyllis experienced the loneliness and isolation many women feel when moving somewhere new. Sharing each other's company and interests in a safe and relaxed environment became the ethos of the club and before too long, Ionian Clubs began to pop up elsewhere. The Sydney club started in 1948, the Hobart club started in 1949, Melbourne in 1950, Perth in 1957, with Christchurch in New Zealand being the first international club in 1994 and a club in Great Britain starting in 1999.

The Ionian name was chosen because the original Ionians were Hellenic exiles who settled on a group of Mediterranean islands that became known as Ionia. These exiles brought with them their Hellenic art, culture and philosophies, in addition to understanding and incorporating the culture of the area in which they had settled. In the context of Phyllis McDonald's experience arriving in Launceston, the Ionian moniker seemed appropriate for her new club.

All Ionian clubs have monthly meetings and these may take the form of a lunch, morning tea or evening meeting and usually include a guest speaker. The meetings are all about keeping a convivial atmosphere and making everyone feel welcome. In addition to the regular meetings, a social calendar of cultural activities, book clubs, cinema, sport and walking groups are extra activities Ionian Club members enjoy. Members of Ionian Clubs vary from 40 to 130 women. As of 2019, there were 1050 members across 18 clubs in total. Ionian conventions are held across Australia from time to time to give members a chance to see how other clubs work and meet others in a new environment.

The Launceston club meets on the first Thursday of every month, followed by a lunch. In addition to the regular meetings, coffee mornings are held twice a month and comprise women of all ages. A walking club and a roster of special events like Christmas lunch and fundraisers are also important aspects of the Launceston chapter. The people who are part of the Launceston Ionian Club are generous, warm and welcoming and embody the spirit with which Phyllis McDonald established the first club 75 years ago.

Going strong after all this time, the Launceston Ionian Club and Ionian Clubs everywhere, give women a chance to find their feet in a new place or under new circumstances. It helps women to meet and connect with others and perhaps, discover a new interest or two. Above all, it is about friendship and for all those at the club who work so hard to make it special. Congratulations for the 75‑year anniversary and we look forward to another 75 years to come.


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