women enriching lives

Women Enriching the Lives of Other Women

History of The Penguin Club of Australia and Speaking Made Easy

Five women met at the Horseshoe Cafe in Sydney in 1937. Imagine how they would feel if they knew that the organisation they started, is now continuing over 80 years later.

One of these women recognised a real need for women to become competent, confident speakers and to know meeting procedure. Thus The Penguin Club of Australia was born with the late M. Jean Ellis at the helm. It is not clear why this name was chosen and there are various stories about the origin of the name.

Co-founders of the Club, Mrs. C. T. Parkinson and Mrs. M. Jean Ellis were elected President and Honorary Secretary respectively. Almost immediately after launching the new Club, Mrs. Parkinson left for a twelve month visit to England.  On her return she was in poor health and Jean Ellis took on the task of organising and expanding the Club. She assumed the joint roles of Federal President and Honorary Federal Organiser, and set about the expansion of the Club to all States and to Papua New Guinea. The Penguin Club is non-political and non-sectarian. Jean Ellis had unflagging energy and enthusiasm for the Penguin Club and her work in other organisations.

1937 was a time when women were expected to have supportive roles to men and to concentrate on household duties. Jean Ellis recognised a need for women to speak in public and have a say in community life and  national matters.

Yes, Jean Ellis had recognised a need. However, she also had a long term vision for women in the future to gain speaking skills and confidence. She fulfilled her vision from 1937 to 1974 when she died. For thirty-seven years she assisted women to overcome nervousness and become articulate and confident. During those years she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her community work.

It is recorded in a book of her family history that Jean Ellis continually told members to respect the past, have motivation for the present and a vision for the future. Her advice is applicable today – for all of us.

The 2019 Australian Internet and Social Media Statistics show that 87% Australians use the internet and 93% of those, use it every day. This is the environment in which we now work and communicate on a day-to-day basis.

There was a motivational need to evolve with changes in society and, in particular, the rapidly changing landscapes for associations like ours.

It is vital that we have a vision for the future. And we do. It’s the same vision of Jean Ellis – to develop confident women.

In 1937 Japan and China were at war, and the dark clouds of world war 2 were forming.  Women required speaking skills and confidence for their new roles, new jobs and responsibilities during the late 1930’s and during the war years.

In 2020 the global digital age is here. Women will have variety of new jobs in their lifetime; some jobs not yet existing. Research shows they need the skills of good communication, confidence, collaboration, critical thinking, logical thinking, creativity, flexibility, innovation, grit and resilience.

Every week we hear about domestic violence, mental health issues, poor behaviour of leaders, gender inequality and so on. Women need to speak up and speak out.

So the time arrived to better define who we are and what we do, so we can extend our hand to more women. Speaking Made Easy has been born, still under the roof of The Penguin Club of Australia.

 Leaders and members, the current custodians of our organisation, are assisting women of all ages to gain the skills required for now and in the future. We all need these skills irrespective of our diversity of backgrounds or whether we are working or not. We can enrich the lives of other women. We are continuing the legacy left to us by Jean Ellis and those who served before us.

Today, members of Speaking Made Easy are empowering women to be articulate and confident because five women had a meeting and took action.

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