In May 1981, Professor Alan Williams, a well known research and Chief Pathologist at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, was interviewed on a late-night commercial radio station. He discussed the dreaded phenomenon of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also known as ‘Cot Death’. A listener to that broadcast was Ian Scott, a member of the Rotary Club of Mornington, Victoria, who was so moved by the interview that he resolved to take action.
At the next meeting of his Rotary Club, Ian proposed the establishment of a national Rotary research foundation, with an aim of raising $2 million for research beginning in Cot Death. On … May, 1981, ‘The Australian Rotary Health Research Fund’ was established. In 1985, The Board allocated its first grant into the causes of SIDS. Parents around the world now know to place babies on their backs at night, greatly reducing the impact of SIDS.
As Australian Rotary Health grew, so did its broad vision of a healthier Australia through research, awareness and education. Supported by Rotarians Australian wide, Australian Rotary Health was soon in a position to sponsor research in a range of medical and health areas that do not readily attract funding.