Douglas Geekie, the Chairman of the Probus Club of Sanctuary Cove, explains to Ross Greenwood what Probus does and how you can get involved.
Introduction: What is Probus?
Ross Greenwood: Welcome back to Work.Life.Money, right around Australia. Now, one of the issues about aging is about what do you do with your time? For many people, they can travel, they could find another activity, they could do volunteering services. All of these things keep you occupied and keep you in the community, but that word “community” is absolutely vital. During many people’s working lives, they’ve had a number of service clubs that they could have joined.
It could have been Rotary or The Lions Club, whatever it might have been. When people get older, of course, they may still remain members of those clubs, but there’s other things people their own age that they might want to interact with a bit more. Enter Probus Clubs. I’ve got to tell you if you’ve known anything about Probus Clubs, the way in which they operate, they have sprung up in Australia like mushrooms after autumn rainfall.
They are everywhere. Older people, because of their aging population, have taken the Probus Clubs and their activities with absolute gusto. Now, if you don’t know what a Probus Club is, you’re not necessarily alone, but if you’re of a certain age, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about. I thought it would be worthwhile to get Douglas Geekie, who is the chairman of Probus South Pacific, to get him on to explain it why it happened, where it goes, and how big it is. He’s on the line right now. Douglas, tell me, where did Probus come from?
Interview: Dogulas Geekie, Chairman of Probus South Pacific
Douglas Geekie: Probus originally started in England back in 1966, when a Rotarian retired from Rotary and went home, and spent his time with his wife. She got tired of him and came up with this idea of a retiree’s club, and went back to his Rotary club. In 1966, the first Probus Club was formed in England.
Ross Greenwood: In other words, Probus was created because a wife got sick of her husband being under her foot, is that correct?
Douglas Geekie: Absolutely correct.
Ross Greenwood: I love it, it’s fantastic. Then explain to me the growth in Probus because it’s been astonishing, hasn’t it?
Douglas Geekie: It has been astonishing. Today, we have in the Pacific Basin area somewhere around about 130,000 members of Probus, and somewhere around about 1,800 Probus Clubs.
Ross Greenwood: Wow. Okay. To somebody who is uninitiated, if I become a member of a Probus Club, what would I expect? How old would I need to be to start off with?
Douglas Geekie: Okay, you’ll be eligible for Probus membership if you’re 55 or over, and if you’re wholly or partly retired.
Ross Greenwood: I’m wholly or partly retired. Now, as a member of a Probus Club, do I have to pay? What’s the next stage of it?
Douglas Geekie: Well, you join a club, generally, you’re invited to join a club. Although if we’re forming a new club, you go along to an interest meeting and you come in on the ground floor. The cost of joining is generally an entrance fee which probably doesn’t exceed $20. Then an annual fee, depending how that’s structured by the club itself, can be anything from about $35 to $60 a year, and that really depends about where the club meets.
Ross Greenwood: Okay, depends on where the club meets. Now, I’m a member of the Probus Club. What activities will I enjoy as a member of the Probus Club?
Douglas Geekie: Well, you’re talking now. There’s a monthly meeting. It’s a morning tea meeting for the most part, although I did learn the other day that we’ve got an evening meeting now with one of our clubs. Basically, we have a monthly meeting. It’s the same day each month and it takes the form of a morning tea. The business is generally done at the beginning or the end, and that business is about what’s happening in the Probus Club and what activities are available. There’s always a guest — well, invariably, there’s a guest speaker. That guest speaker comes along, and you would be amazed the people that we’ve had across the whole group of clubs that we have in terms of the quality of the speakers.
Ross Greenwood: Come on, give me a couple of examples. What types of people would come and speak at the Probus Club?
Douglas Geekie: We have had Politicians. The last week, my own club had the deputy mayor come and tell us what is happening in the council. We’ve had school teachers, we’ve had politicians, we’ve had the government, and then, of course, a tremendous number of community people come in.
Ross Greenwood: In other words, you’re people who connect people who are now older, the seniors in the community, that those people remain connected in that community by virtue of having this interaction with this variety of speakers that might come and attend these meetings?
Douglas Geekie: Absolutely. Bear in mind, some of the best speakers we have come from our own members, and they come and talk about the lives that they have lived and they talked the last time. For example, the former chairman of Coles founded a Probus Club in Victoria, how about that?
Ross Greenwood: That’s fantastic. Then there’s the other aspect of it, isn’t it? Because I know that Probus Clubs have now become very serious traveling organizations as well, haven’t they? There’s trips away the whole time.
Douglas Geekie: Right. Well, that was the second part I was going to come to. We have core activity groups within the club, and that’s probably the exciting part. There’s about 120 different sorts of activities that occur across the spectrum of clubs. It might be a wine and cheese group, it might be a movie group. Generally, there’s six or seven attached to each club so you get clubs within clubs. Certainly, most clubs have a monthly bus ride, or a travel activity, or a luncheon, that it has become a standard feature of that clubs’ activities.
Ross Greenwood: I’ve got to say, I love the idea and the reason is because it gives people an outing, it gives people an ability to socialize and interact, it gives people a reason to get a bit organized so that retirement actually has some tangible benefit to it in terms of the community. That’s really part of the philosophy of the Probus Club, isn’t it?
Douglas Geekie: Ross, what drives me — I’m a Rotarian as well. We’re all about friendship, fellowship, and fun. Out of that, that leads to active retiree’s. What we are finding is that we’re getting a whole heap of people coming out of their retirement of ceiling gazing, novel gazing, and not going anywhere, and becoming very active. Now, this is better in their health and it’s a lot better for the community.
Ross Greenwood: It’s not only about that, so if a person wish to join a Probus Club, how easy is that?
Douglas Geekie: That’s easy. Get on the website. Well, go to the library and get someone to help you, and type in probussouthpacific.org, and that’ll get you on the website. Then you will see there “Where is my club.” You put in your postcode, and from there on, you’ve made contact with the Probus organization who will get back to you and tell you where there are Probus Clubs in your area and who to contact.
Ross Greenwood: I’ll tell you what, there’s a whole lot of terrific things that are involved in all of this. Just understand that there are benefit schemes involved if you’re traveling to different places, there are discounts that people can get, there’s travel insurance you can pick up. There’s a range of other benefits that come with this as well but remember, just simply google Probus South Pacific and you’ll find all the details from there. I got to tell you, Douglas, I appreciate your time here on the program today.
Douglas Geekie: It’s my pleasure to be here, and anytime, I’m only too happy to promote Probus because that’s what Probus South Pacific is all about.
Ross Greenwood: There you go. Douglas Geekie is the chairman of Probus South Pacific, great to have him on the program. Look, when you retire, you don’t want to be worrying about your finances. You want to be able to live comfortably, and hopefully, really enjoy your retirement, maybe buy a new car, help the kids, and even travel overseas.