Apex was once a household name in Western Australia but a decline in membership has raised fears it won’t be able to survive in Perth.
The international service organisation, which does community projects and helps raise money for charities around Perth and country WA, has seen a steady decline in membership numbers from 3500 in the ’80s to just 110 members around WA today.
Current Perth Apexian Carlo Formentin said there are still 10 members in the Perth Apex club, but the Hamersley Apex club, situated north of the river, closed four years ago.
Mr Formentin said just over a year ago the Perth club was only at two members but then the Apex Australia Teenage Fashion Awards (AATFA) members joined and this brought their membership back up to 10.
“[The] majority of young people have no interest or time to be involved with a service organisation,” said Mr Formentin.
“The [ability] of Apex clubs to survive in regional areas [has been due to] towns full of people that are more community-orientated than the metro area,” he said.
Apex’s Regional Communicator Allen Hingston said Apex is an organisation which not only raises money for charities but it also helps out the community whereever it can, whether it’s to clean up people’s backyards or sponsoring a young person, allowing them to attend an event
Despite their good community work, he said membership numbers have been on a concerning decline for some time.
“There are currently 17 clubs in WA, a disappointing figure, and 16 clubs are in regional WA,” he said.
Mr Hingston said in 1988 there were 19-clubs in metropolitan Perth but now there is only one.
Apex started with men only between the ages of 18-45 but in the 1990’s most clubs opened their doors to women and in 2013 clubs were able to increase the membership age beyond 45.
“Some clubs keep the age of 45 and you are out, some clubs are 50, some are 60,” Mr Hingston said.
Apex club of Esperance President Lauren McWilliam said about two years ago her club was close to folding as many members had left due to age but one of their life members Barry Wroth managed to help them survive.
“We had a pretty big membership drive, managing to get 12 members,” Ms McWilliam said.
Mr Hingston said Apex clubs do suffer with membership compared to the Rotary or Lions associations, mostly because of the age restrictions.
“People will generally join Rotary or Lions clubs at a point in their lives when they’ve made their money, they’ve had their kids and they want to give back to the community,” said Mr Hingston.
He also believes the busy lifestyles in modern Australia have contributed to the decline in membership.
“Society’s values have changed to ‘what’s in it for me, what do I get out of it, so why would I go and volunteer my time at somewhere like Lions, Rotary or Apex when I could be doing something that I want to do?'” Mr Hingston said.
Apex Club of Bunbury Koombana President Mark Hearne said the club has 17-members, one of the biggest in the state.
“Being active is probably the main reason why we have such a larger following,” he said.
Mr Hearne believes it’s easy to just become another person in Perth, because cities are not as community-orientated as regional towns.
“It’s easier to be online than talk to people face-to-face these days,” he said.
Mr Formentin said things need to change in order to ensure the survival of Apex clubs.
“Unless Apex changes its mindset and finds a way of encouraging younger members through other avenues that interest young people, the Apex membership in any metropolitan city in Australia will be dead and gone,” Mr Formentin said.