David headed up the Board of Directors from 2011 to 2016 and says that meeting the needs of a diverse membership base is never easy.
“Our broad base is a huge strength, because we’re truly representative of Australia’s older population, but it’s also a real challenge,” he explains.
“Responding to very different needs - people at opposite ends of the spectrum, and everything in between, when it comes to finances, social access, wellbeing and the like - is incredibly difficult. You have to make sure that no-one is left out, because everyone has a right to representation.
“But one of the strengths of National Seniors is the fact that we have always based our advocacy on research and we’ve not gone into bat for something that we can’t validate.”
“... One of the strengths of National Seniors is the fact we have always based our advocacy on research, and we’ve not gone into bat for something we can’t validate.”
Calling it “more an investment than a membership”, David says the challenge is getting people to understand that you can’t just hope for the best when it comes to public policy and government spending.
“I see National Seniors as the professional association for seniors. When you’re in a career, you’ve got an authority, a council, or an institute in your corner. You’ve got the unions that support people both in professions and in the trades. But, when you leave the working world, you don’t have anybody. I see National Seniors as that group; that’s your protection. They’re the people that are going to go into lobby and argue for you in the corridors of Parliament.
“Honestly, your annual membership fee is probably the cost of a meal out for a couple, at the most. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.”
Having first joined at age 50, David’s immersion in all things National Seniors stepped up a gear when he retired, joining a newly formed branch in Perth.
“When you’re based in your particular career, and mine was education, you tend to mix socially with educators. And, when I joined National Seniors, you broaden that enormously. You meet a whole range of people from different backgrounds and with a whole range of different interests — many of them remain my friends still today, which I value.”
Before long, David became active in policy consultation, chairing both state and national policy groups, and was then appointed to National Seniors’ Board of Directors.
“There have been some great wins over the years, but we’re not there yet. We have a system under pressure, and that’s not going to get any easier - we need to stand together and have a strong voice.”