David's award was in recognition of his significant contribution to the College and the community, with a focus on his lifetime achievement through his volunteer work with Interplast. David is a Partner at MinterEllison, sharing his expertise in corporate law and passion for philanthropy to help establish Interplast Australia and New Zealand in 1983.
“As a young lawyer with the law firm, Gillotts (now MinterEllison), I was approached by Rotary and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons to advise on legal issues to establish Interplast back in 1982,” he said.
Interplast was an initiative of Rotary and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. “It was a challenging initiative involving volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgeons and others with a passion to assist people in need in the South Pacific region.” David has retained that passion for Interplast ever since.
Interplast was launched in 1983 to provide plastic and reconstructive surgery to people with burns scarring, trauma injuries, tumours or congenital deformities, and training and mentoring programs to local surgical teams in the Asia Pacific region.
David became an active Interplast Board Director from 1984, then took on the role of Vice President in 1993 until he took the helm as President in 2010. David held this role for six years, only stepping down recently in 2016.
During David’s time with Interplast, the organisation had sent volunteers on 882 programs, performed 24,443 life-changing plastic and reconstructive surgeries and provided 41,854 consultations. In addition to this soaring growth, one of David’s greatest achievements was leading Interplast to full accreditation by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
“Interplast is one of the smallest NGOs to receive full accreditation,” he said. Full accreditation allows Interplast to access more funding from DFAT’s Australian Non-Government Organisation Cooperation Program (ANCP), which plays an essential role in supporting Interplast’s capacity building programs in 17 countries across the Asia Pacific region.
When asked what his most memorable moment with Interplast is, David recalls a light plane flight in Fiji in 1986 when the aircraft door flung open mid-flight. While that event stuck in his mind, he said: “I will also always remember witnessing the dedicated and inspirational work undertaken by our volunteer surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health professionals – having participated in team programs to a number of countries – I will never forget the positive impact Interplast makes on lives."
David said Interplast is growing in statue and recognition year on year. “This year, Interplast will provide nearly 90 international programs,” he said. “It is to be commended and I congratulate my successor as President, Keith Mutimer, and his team for continuing and growing the depth of work undertaken by Interplast.
“Without the Interplast team including the Board, Chief Executive Officer, Prue Ingram, the office staff, the volunteers and the supporters of Interplast, the organisation would not exist.”
David was also awarded the Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Melbourne in 2016 for his services to Interplast.
Today, David continues to play an integral role at Interplast as an Honourable Member and generously provides pro bono legal advice to Interplast through his position at international law firm, MinterEllison.