Melbourne’s Kelvin Club continues its evolution from exclusion to inclusion with the election last month of three women to its board.
The club is 150-years-old next year and was one of the first of Melbourne’s “gentlemen’s clubs” to admit women back in 1995.
And the club is also breaching the generational divide with two of the new female committee members aged around 30.
For club president, John Dall’Amico, the election result was pleasing. But he is uncomfortable with gender and age-related tags and is just thankful for the new thinking that the women bring to the table.
“I like to tell people that it is a progressive, traditional club,” he said. “I don’t see it as a private club but, rather, a space for the community to participate in.”
Su Baker, 59, has been a Kelvin Club committee member for most of the many years she has been a club member. But newcomers Esther Gretton, 31, and Lauren Broomhall, 29, have been elected to the committee in their first year of membership.
Ms Baker said the gender balance was merely a reflection of the renewal that was sweeping the CBD more generally.
“The new club poses no contradiction with the traditions of the Kelvin Club of the past,” she said.
She pointed out that, in the past, professional men would lunch at the club and then return to the suburbs after hours. The club now comes to life at night because the city has become such a vibrant place to live.
Ms Gretton said social connection contributed to “wellness” and it was natural for the club to evolve towards a community focus.
“These days we are viewing diversity as normal,” she said.
Ms Broomhall said it was fabulous to see a conscious shift towards inclusion in the club.
Her appointment is particularly relevant as her great-grandfather and grandfather had both been past-presidents of the club.
She said she always knew of the club but had considered it irrelevant because she was a girl.
“The vibrancy of what is going on here is a reflection of what is happening more generally throughout the city,” she said. “The Kelvin Club ticks all of the Melbourne boxes.”