Presidents Report - Summer 2017
In my opinion, 2017 has been a great year for the Division and heralds a promising 2018. We have established new branches, the latest the B24 Liberator Branch, and more are likely to be created within the next few months. We have enjoyed several very successful fellowship events hosted by the Division and held another memorable Annual Pilgrimage to the AFC Memorial at Point Cook.
Last month, Christine and I travelled to Tetbury, UK to unveil an Australian Flying Corps plaque donated by the AFA National to commemorate the Corps’ presence in Tetbury during the Great War and to acknowledge the wonderful relationship they enjoyed with the Tetbury townspeople. We were accompanied by Maureen and John Capp from Australia. John’s father served in the Australian Flying Corps and was a WWII veteran. The people of Tetbury were very impressed by the Association’s generosity and our efforts to travel to the UK for the occasion.
I was pleased to present the Division’s Sir Edmund Herring Award to Jennifer Spencer for her oil painting ‘Gallantry Spent’ at the Repatriation Hos-pital’s Story Writing and Art Competition prize presentation ceremony. I was among others on the SWAC Committee who judged the exhibitions and was immediately impressed by the painting that depicted Australian Light Horsemen riding in the desert. Sadly, the Story Writing and Art Competition will end at the end of 2018 after operating 56 years. It seems fewer artisans are taking interest in the event despite it being adequately supported by DVA and sponsored by a range of Ex-Service Organisations including our Division.
Our new website is operational. The integrated database component will be completed before Christmas. The site will provide a range of functionalities that will improve membership administration including the opportunity for members to pay their subscriptions online and amend their personal details. I held a Branch Presidents’ Meeting to update the branches on web-site development and to announce the establishment of a Communications Team to manage our Division’s communication, especially the social media. There was an appeal to the branches, which I extend to you, to submit your human-interest stories or other newsworthy items to the Team who will upload them on the most appropriate site or include them in Contact. It’s a great opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences.
Peter Colliver, our Division Honorary Treasurer, and I visited the Association’s Western Australia Division in early October to view its Retirement and Age Care facilities. We remain highly impressed by the operation which commenced from an idea back in the early 1970’s. Following years of prudent management, cooperation and team effort the organisation has become one of the most successful of its type in Australia and has been awarded several times for the standard of its quality care. I have floated the idea of the Victorian Division moving towards this field of veteran and wider community care and received positive responses. Clearly, this development would be a major step for us requiring investigation and consultation with all members prior to any decision-making. You’ll hear more about this matter from me.
Rumours spread fast. I was appointed on November 22nd the Association’s National President by the National Council following the passing of our National President AVM Brent Espeland, AM (Retd). I am very honoured to take up the role and look forward to the many challenges ahead. I worked for Brent Espeland when he was Air Officer Commanding Training Command and greatly admired him for his steady and calm leadership. He was always very respectful and genuinely took interest in people. Brent was a gentleman and I am privileged to follow in his foot-steps.
I will be working closely with the Board to identify and appoint your next President, and we anticipate an announcement will be made early in the New Year.
The Festive Season is a special time to spend with our family and friends. I love Christmas at home with my wife, children and grandchildren. Whether you are spending time at home or elsewhere, I hope you have a great Christmas and New Year, and please – stay safe.
Carl Schiller, OAM CSM