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District Conference 2021 19th to 21st March
District Conference 2021
Celebrate the great work done by the Rotarians of District 9675, and share in the fun.
Conference Presenters
Dr James Muecke
Dr James Muecke AM graduated with Honours from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1987. Following his internship, James lived and worked as a doctor in Africa and subsequently as an eye surgeon in the Middle East, battling malaria, wild animals, and rebel soldiers. He founded Sight For All in 2008, turning his boundless energy into a fight against blindness in the Aboriginal and mainstream communities of Australia and some of the poorest countries of Asia and Africa. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable projects are now impacting on the lives of over one million people each year.
His commitment to social impact and humanitarian endeavors has earnt him a string of awards including an Order of Australia in 2012, the Australian Medical Association’s President’s Leadership Award in 2013, and Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur for Australia in 2015. James is Australian of the Year 2020.
James is a researcher, a teacher, an author, a musician, a photographer, and a film producer, and uses his many skills to deliver passionate, fascinating, and at times confronting presentations about his life, his work, philanthropy, resilience and social entrepreneurship. A neurological condition impacting on his dexterity has forced James into a premature retirement from surgery. Not letting his disability slow him down, James has redirected his vigour to crafting films, and has a number of powerful documentaries under his belt and several compelling projects in production.
Cam Calkoen
In a season of life where we’ve all had to test our resilience, ability to reimagine, resourcefulness, desire to thrive and making healthy mindset choices, there is no one, we believe who personifies this more than Cam Calkoen. Cam was born with Cerebral Palsy, something that his parents did not expect, something they had no warning about, something that was presented to them and Cam with a pretty bleak forecast. At the centre of all the bleakness were the limiting perceptions that Cam's biggest challenges in life would be both the way he walks and talks. But Cam's parents and Cam had a dream, for the parents it was to stay true to the dreams that inspired them to be parents, for Cam it was to be able to live life where he could travel, entertain and connect... connect with a lot of people.
Without giving away too much of what Cam is going to speak about, today at 36 years of age has been and is an athletic gold medalist, charitable fundraiser, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and 2 x recipient of a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Over the past 18 years Cams audiences have included, Vodafone, Heineken, RE/MAX, KPMG, YES Optus and he’s spoken throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia, the USA, Canada and Europe. Cam's inspirational story of ‘dream big achieve more’ proves that dreams are not airy fairy impossibilities, dreams influence mindset, dreams create goals, goals create opportunities and what we do with our opportunities is up to us. The way Cam walks and talks have become his biggest strengths and his passport to traveling, entertaining and connecting.
Here at conference we want to challenge perception of what it means to truly thrive in this world. Cam will impart wisdom through experience that is not only going to inspire you but motivate you to be the change in this world, the change for yourself, the change for others, the change for your community. 
When Cam was growing up much of the doctors aspirations were "to get this boy with cerebral palsy ‘living’ achieving a sense of ’normality." As Cam’s experience, “normal” is boring, difference is what people notice and when you mix the familiar with the unfamiliar that is where you create awesomeness!!!
Cam's keynote is sure to take us all on a journey of laughter and tears, but more significantly it’s sure to create an experience that celebrates the power of humanity, connection and dreams. That we all have a lot more in common than what makes us different so let’s aim to thrive.
Check out more awesomeness about Cam at
Samah Shda
 I arrived in Sydney Australia in 2019, after years of displacement and uncertainty. The aftermath of the 2003 war, sectarian violence and extremist radical groups pushed our family and many other families from religious minority to flee Iraq and seek safety elsewhere.
I grew up in an Assyrian family in Baghdad. In 2003, the collapse of Saddam’s dictatorship and the US military intervention changed the way we lived and functioned. Our schools, hospitals, shops and any form of normalcy became a target for violent extremist militias. We were introduced to new vocabulary like “military checkpoints”, “curfews” and “electricity generators”. Our lives revolved around essentials, but even then, we were not safe from being caught in the crossfire.
In 2010, I was awarded the Iraqi Student Project Scholarship to continue my higher education safely in the United States. Upon gaining my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Grinnell College, I returned to northern Iraq and participated in the refugee aid efforts during the 2014 refugee crisis caused by the Islamic State invasion. I worked with international non-governmental organisations and led fundraising initiatives to assist refugees and internally displaced families in camps around my region.
When the threat of the extremist groups reached our ancestral village in the north, my family and I had to no choice but to seek asylum in Turkey. For the first time in my life, I saw myself as a refugee and knew that this would always be part of my identity.
I continued to search for opportunities to continue my work with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I worked with local and international organizations that largely focused on refugee reintegration and access to Education. I coordinated the Iraqi and Syrian Student Project, a program that aimed at helping Syrian students to acquire their higher education in the United States and Canada.
In 2019, after three years of waiting in Turkey, we were finally given a refugee humanitarian visa to resettle in Australia. We were beyond happy, and more than ready to plan our futures in a place where we feel safe and dignified.
We really didn’t know what to expect when we arrived in Sydney airport, but we were welcomed by so many community members who made us feel truly blessed. A few months in, we were ready to My lived experienced as a refugee and my perspective on the refugee crisis through my international work were my guiding stones into volunteer work and advocacy in refugee policy.
Since my arrival to Australia, I have been actively involved with refugee resettlement organizations and refugee-led national advocacy networks representing the Iraqi community. I am a public speaker for the Refugee Council of Australia community engagement program and an Amnesty international activist organizing refugee rights campaign events in NSW. I am currently leading a research project focused on refugee access to higher education in Australia in collaboration with multiple refugee advocacy and resettlement organizations. I believe in using my own experience and story to raise awareness on the global refugee crisiswork, study and contribute to this beautiful country that we now call home.