Immediate Past President’s Report                                    

At our 3rd AGM since moving to Port Macquarie, I was pleased to be able to report that our Association remains financially and operationally viable, confirming the decision to relocate was the right one.

 

1. The improvement in our finances has had a lot to do with the tireless fundraising efforts of volunteers, the prudent management of our expenditure, increased revenue from donations and newsletter advertising, and the contributions from 190 memberships.

I also reported that we recently received confirmation of grants totaling approximately $8700, for office running costs, travel for pension and welfare related activity, and a stove and range hood for our kitchen.

2. Membership numbers are healthy including several new members some of whom have recently moved into the area, however we continue to get feedback saying that ‘people don’t know we are here’ indicating that we need to continue to do more in raising our profile in the community, and asking members to tell everyone they know about us.

3. I was reminded not so long ago that our primary function is to provide pension, welfare and advocacy services in the community; sometimes those functions can become lost amongst all the other things we need to do to keep our facility open, such as fundraising, managing the office, keeping on top of statutory requirements, and administrative tasks essential to support those primary functions.

4. We continue to experience growth in enquiries and welfare hours, roughly as forecast in our Service Delivery Integration Plan of last year.

We continue to develop our welfare and information role including promoting health & well being programs aimed at decreasing social isolation, exercise and life balance, and linking available facilities and programs to the needs of veterans and ex-service personnel.

5. Getting relevant information out to our members and the wider community remains an important part of our welfare role; as I have said before, failure to link the needs of individuals with what is available is evidenced by the low take-up of many services, or access to them later than it could have been.

To that end, we continue with getting information out through our newsletter, radio program and our website, which incidentally has attracted over 20 on-line membership applications so far, and via email and a regular program of mailings to those members without email access, which will commence shortly.

6. There are a number of people who make things happen for our Association and I publically thanked all those who have helped out, and continue to help out, with the many and varied tasks needed to continue our services to the veteran, ex-service and wider community in the Port Macquarie Hastings and beyond.

I particularly acknowledged retiring committee members Joan Begg, Colin Clark, Graeme Cox, Jim Bailey, Jenny Delroy, Michael Francetich and Glen Webster whose contributions and support to me over the year and in some cases since I first became President is very much appreciated. I know some will continue to be involved in the work of our Association as I intend to be.

7. In my 10 years of active involvement in our Association as a Committee Member, including the last four as President, the amount of change in our external environment has impacted us enormously, and how well we respond to change will determine our success, and our survival.

We exist in an increasingly accountable and competitive environment. Looking ahead this will require increased or at least continued focus on:

  • Communication and interaction with our members by electronic means to the greatest extent possible, and where this is not an option, communication with such members on a more frequent basis than our quarterly newsletter can provide.
  • Revenue raising and expenditure controls that ease the burden on limited resources, through grants, donations and sponsorships, and reducing or offsetting overheads.
  • Ways and means of engaging members and potential members including post-Vietnam era ex-service men and women, in social, health and wellbeing and commemorative events, as well as activities to address social isolation particularly as our current membership ages.
  • Involvement in ESO and wider community events to maintain and grow our profile and reinforce our presence in the Port Macquarie Hastings area.
  • More members sharing the load. As indicated in our statistics and finances, I believe we have a strong foundation in membership, finance and reputation to enable our Sub-Branch to continue to be of service in this community.

Ian Robertson AGM 24th August 2013

Our New President David Barnes (extract from Newsletter 3/2013)

Many members will already be familiar with David, he has been with our Sub-Branch for over ten years. 

Now, in his role as President, he doesn’t intend tomake sweeping changes. He acknowledges the work of the previous President, Ian Robertson, and the Committee members that have assisted Ian in making the Sub-Branch viable and effective in addressing the needs of our members. In David’s words “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

 

That doesn’t mean stagnation, where there is potential to improve procedures or introduce new ideas, he and his new Committee will consider options. With a twinkle in his eye he talks about introducing “Bylaw 303” – this could be an effective means of marshaling recruits and volunteers to assist in the running of the Sub-Branch.

 

David is very supportive of the membership contact program. He sees real value in reminding members that there are people that care about them and on whom they can call for support. Young veterans, in particular, may still be coming to terms with the experiences that they have had. In David’s words they need support, succor and solace. When they are ready they may share their experiences with older members but some just want to forget.

 

David is keen to encourage all members to become involved in social occasions, the most regular of which is the Thursday lunch group. Not only do members receive a tasty lunch at a very reasonable price, they have the opportunity to talk to others about their experiences and to share information and insights.
Catering is very dear to David’s heart. After a dysfunctional, colourful, and wayward childhood in a single parent household, David was called up in 1967 at 19 years of age. Although he had learnt to detest authority, he thoroughly enjoyed “boot camp” at Kapooka and joined the regular army after three months. His first secondment was to the Australian Army Catering Corps. His first overseas posting was on the Vernon Sturdee, 32 Small Ship Squadron. He remained on the ship for about 6 months before being transferred to the Officers Mess at Victoria Barracks, Sydney where he produced culinary delights accompanied by a good dose of cheek. After 6 months, he was seconded to the Military Corrective Establishment at Holsworthy. Right from the outset it was apparent this was not David’s ideal destination.
The first day he had the paper open checking out the horses and the radio broadcasting the races when he was told that prisoners were not entitled to hear the news. He promptly pointed out that he wasn’t a prisoner but to no avail. The radio went off and the paper went away. After a less than auspicious start he got the Colonel offside over a trivial incident involving carrots. This was clearly not the place for
David. To hasten his departure David took to dragging a piece of rope though the OR’s wet bar and calling “Come on, Come on” to an imaginary dog. This behaviour coupled with the regular fights he was involved in at the local pub resulted in one of the Warrant Officers suggesting that it might be better for
Australia if David was sent overseas again.
He lasted 3 months before being seconded to the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment on the HMAS Sydney headed for Nui Dat.

 

Whilst being transported David wasn’t required to cook but did manage to do a little burning. Severe sunburn resulted in a charge for self-inflicted wounds.

 

David was in trouble again. He spent some time in Vietnam, Malaysia then Changi, Singapore before being discharged in October 1972. The discharge process involved flying into Darwin under cover of night, arrival in Sydney at around 2am and strict orders not to be seen in public in uniform.

 

After leaving the army David pursued a career in sales, marketing, public speaking and writing. He has written several books the most successful of which was “The Rich Rep”. He retired to Port Macquarie in 2002 where he lives in his words “joyously”.
David has a history of working tirelessly for the veteran community and is passionate about the entitlements of veterans.
The President’s position is a demanding one and he will give it his best shot – hopefully without reliance on Bylaw 303.

 

 

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