Wednesday 7th June 2017 12:30 pm -

Speaker: Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO

Topic Thomas Baker Oration 2017

Chairperson: Gerry Johnston

Dr Ziggy Switkowski will make the 2017 Thomas Baker Oration in commemoration of the entrepreneurial and philanthropic ninth President of the Rotary Club of Melbourne.


Dr Switkowski is Chancellor of RMIT University, Chair of NBN Co, Suncorp Group and a Director of listed companies Tabcorp Holdings & Healthscope Ltd.

Dr Switkowski is the former Chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and of Opera Australia. He has previously held positions as Chief Executive Officer of Telstra Corporation Limited and Optus Communications Ltd and is a former Chairman and Managing Director of Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

In 2014, Dr Switkowski was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to tertiary education administration, scientific organisations and the telecommunications sector, to business and to the arts.


In 2015, the Rotary Club of Melbourne decided to commemorate the contribution of its 9th President, Thomas Baker, to the fields of medicine/science/technology and philanthropy. The inaugural address was made in July 2016 by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO.

On 7 June, the 2017 Oration will be presented by the distinguished Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO, Chancellor of RMIT University. His inspiring topic will be “Our Digital Lives in the 2020’s”. Click here for announcement.


Life of Thomas Baker

Thomas Baker was born in England in 1854 and migrated to Australia at age 10. After gaining practical skills from his father, Thomas soon trained and worked in pharmaceutical chemistry. He then studied medicine for a year at the University of Melbourne but decided to pursue a career in the emerging technology of dry plate photography through inventing his own formulae. His Austral Plate Company was to manufacture and sell the plates along with a broader range of photographic supplies. With this success, in 1908 Kodak Limited joined with Austral to become Australian Kodak Limited.


Legacy of Thomas Baker

Thomas Baker amassed a fortune due to the success and when he died suddenly in 1928, midway through his Presidency of Rotary Melbourne, he left a will which very generously supported medical research and philanthropy. This led to the establishment the renowned Baker Institute and the Baker Foundation. Both these organisations continue the connection with Rotary Melbourne through trustees at Baker Foundation and support for Baker Institute medical initiatives.


No35 Restaurant
Level 35 Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
25 Collins Street

Melbourne VIC 3000

Cost per person:

Cost: $45 (2 course meal and Coffee)

Visitors welcome - Check first with the Club Office (03) 9654 7242

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