5. The Final Distinguished District Years, 1989 - 1996

The early 90s were steady years of achievement and growth, although some of the team cohesion that had been a feature of the previous years started to disappear. For the 5 years 1989 - 1993, District 70 was a Distinguished District each year and the Club numbers rose steadily to reach 172 in mid 1993. This led to the creation of Phillip Division in 1993, at which time the number of Areas increased to 34.

The concept of Toastmasters week was started in 1989, and this was held in the February/March period in many years afterwards. District Sunday Seminars had also started in 1986 and in the next few years were very well attended. As attendances fell, a Speakers Showcase was added in 1992. The combination of Seminar and Showcase has continued in most years since, being held throughout at the Bankstown Sports Club.

In 1991, the District moved into the group of Top Ten Districts by size. The only major award received in this period was for District 70 News, which was a Top 10 District Bulletin in 1992/93 with Pixie Fagen as Editor. The educational performance from Clubs remained strong in CTMs, ATMs, DTMs and in Speechcraft, Youth Leadership and Success/Leadership, maintaining the District's leading status on a world basis in these areas.

In 1993 there were 2 special events of note. On the weekend of 5th to 7th February, Nigel Bryan, a member of St. Vincent's Private Hospital Club, talked himself into the Guinness Book of Records. He did this by setting a new world record for the longest after dinner speech, speaking for 50 hours 40 minutes to an audience that at all times included at least 10 people who attended the opening meal function. In this case it was a formal breakfast.

Then in October 1993, the District had visit from the International President Neil Wilkinson and his wife Jean. They attended a round of functions in a busy four day period.

The 1989 Down Under Convention in Brisbane was the last major one held. From 1990, all Districts outside North America were invited to send a speech contestant to participate in an Inter-District Contest to be held at the beginning of the International Convention. Prior to this, a more limited contest had been held at the DTM luncheon where the sole Down Under representative spoke against the representatives of the other 3 overseas Districts (71, 74 and 75 at that time) for the right to compete in the world final.

With this change, TI also decided to introduce formal training for the top 3 officers of each overseas District before the start of the International Convention. The Regional Speech Contest and the training of top officers are the 2 major activities at the 8 Regional Conferences in North America. Thus although not a formal region, from 1990 the overseas Districts enjoyed all the benefits of the other Districts. The attendance of Toastmasters from the overseas Districts at the International Convention also increased, so that the organisation became much more visibly an international one.

In 1994 the District commenced another growth spurt. The 1993/94 team, with Lynda Parsons as District Governor, made it to the highest category of President's Distinguished District (placed fourth) as well as winning the President's Club Extension award with a net growth of 16 Clubs.

In 1994/95, with Pamella Vernon as District Governor, District 70 achieved Select Distinguished District, being placed in 8th spot with a net growth of 10 Clubs.

Then in 1995/96 the District team, led by Brian Keane achieved President's Distinguished District, being placed in 5th spot. The District also won the President's Club Extension award with net growth of 15 Clubs, taking the District over the 200 mark to 213 Clubs. This made the District the 3rd largest in the world where there were now 74 Districts.

This was to be the final year that District 70 was a Distinguished District, bringing to an end a record of 16 successive years of Distinguished District achievement. This equalled the record for all Districts in the history of Toastmasters International.