Catherine Smith, Australia's youngest Rotary president, takes the reins at Wellington Point

LEADER: Catherine Smith with District Governor Jitendra Prasad at her induction.
LEADER: Catherine Smith with District Governor Jitendra Prasad at her induction.

AT just 20 years old, Catherine Smith is believed to be the youngest Rotary president in Australia and the youngest female president in the world.

Ms Smith - who took over the Wellington Point Rotary Club presidency from Lorraine Hooker on Friday - was first introduced to the club in 2014 through a driver awareness program at her school.

Since then, she has been involved in programs including theNational Youth Science Forum, representing Australia at the London International Youth Science Forum, and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program.

"I've met people that were being proactive in making positive change for the community and I wanted to give back to them after they've invested in me so much," she said.

"Rotary is such an amazing platform to be involved with because it really gives people from all walks of life the hope and skills and even confidence to go out and make change happen.

"I think the way it really magnifies all of our collective strengths together is absolutely remarkable."

She will be juggling her Rotary leadership commitments with an intensive university schedule, where she studies biomedical science and law.

The average age of an Australian Rotarian is 71, making Ms Smith among the youngest members, let alone leaders.

She is also believed to be the youngest female president in the world, a fitting achievement in the 30th anniversary year of a historic vote that first allowed women into Rotary.

"I think we've come a long way in terms of diversity and inclusion and I really want to be able to continue that progression in being able to connect Rotary between different organisations, family and working professionals," she said.

"If we can create increased engagement between those sorts of areas then we're going to inform even longer-lasting sustainable change in the community."

One of her goals for her year in the head roleis to continue to come up with innovative community programs to help those in need.

She also wished to encourage young people to give the club a shot.

"We (young people) know that we want to be involved, we know that we want to be ready for the challenges that lie ahead and I think that we're all trying to create different pathways to give back to the community with our leadership ability," she said.

"Rotary is an avenue that people can follow through with and be able to do those things (and) to see such thoughtful and considerate people who are going out and helping the community is really inspiring and to be a part of that really gives me a lot of joy.

"When you're among other people who are willing to go out of their way to make a difference, you're never going to go wrong."