The first Lions club in Australia was formed in Lismore, NSW on July 1, 1947. Today there are over 30,000 members in more than 1,300 clubs throughout Australia.
Lions clubs, the basic unit of the Association, are grouped into geographical Districts, which in turn are grouped into Multiple Districts. District Governors of the 20 Districts in Australia and Papua New Guinea form an administrative body known as Multiple District 201 Council. Local policy matters are determined by delegates to the annual National Convention.
1.4 Provision of Services
Services to the visually disabled and support for research into the causes of blindness is a traditional Lions activity. As well as established programs for the early detection of glaucoma and sight loss as a result of diabetes, Lions Save Sight Institutes have been established around Australia, providing specialist services and undertaking world-leading research. Lions have established Chairs of Ophthalmology in a number of universities. Lions operate most of Australia’s eye banks, provide talking books and were pioneers in extending specialist services to outback areas.
In Victoria, the Victorian Lions Foundation supports CERA, the Centre for Eye Research Australia Ltd and Lions fund a Vision Research Fellow at the National Vision Research Institute at Carlton.
The home dialysis program in Australia was initiated by Lions Clubs and Lions Clubs are active in programs related to prostate and other cancers, diabetes, motor neurone disease, marine stinger research and the encouragement of organ donation.
In medical research, major foundations and health institutes have been established by Lions clubs in all States. Scientists at the Lions Research Centre at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital have developed a vaccine for cervical cancer, and in New South Wales, a Lions Foundation offers scholarships that enable nurses to undertake advanced study. Adopted as a national project in 1995, the Lions Multiple Sclerosis Foundation funds research into a cure for that disease.
Lions established and operates Australia’s only centre for the training of Hearing Dogs for the hearing impaired. Trained to react to the sound of a telephone, a door knock, a baby’s crying or to other emergencies, these animals bring security and confidence to their owners.
A recent Lions undertaking, in conjunction with Scope of NSW, is the Australian production of the David Hart Walking Frame, a device that enables many children with cerebral palsy to walk for the first time.
Lions, through the Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation is an effective participant in drug education and is heavily involved with youth through the Youth of the Year Quest and through a youth exchange program. through Leo Clubs, sponsored by Lions is an international youth group which gives young people leadership skills, experience and opportunities through involvement in community service. Lions conduct youth camps across Australia, including specialised camps for children and teenagers with diabetes, arrange beach holidays for country children, take disadvantaged children for holidays at Lions Village Licola in Gippsland Victoria, provide scholarships and employment assistance schemes, host the Lions Children of Courage awards and participate in mentoring with one-parent families.
Through local clubs, Lions react quickly to emergencies. Victims of cyclones and floods, fires and drought have been helped by Lions relief efforts. Through LCIF, Lions can have financial assistance to disaster areas within 24 hours.
Lions clubs are also active in many other ways at a local community level. Well maintained Lions parks are seen across Australia and clubs participate in or initiate clean up campaigns, tree planting, land reclamation and other environmental activities