Meet the Team David Heard

Meet the team: David Heard

Our Board Member David Heard says hi.

What is your role at RFW?

I’m a Non-Executive Director, so my job is to work as part of the overall Board in governing (rather than actually running) RFW. The RFW Board members are volunteers. We are required to act in the best long-term interests of RFW – considering all stakeholders including our clients, the staff, volunteers, and our communities and funders. We do this by working with management to set the strategy and plan for RFW, as well as reviewing the processes to ensure we manage risks of all type appropriately.

I have two other roles as a Director, on two of the Board Committees which focus on specific areas.

One is to Chair the Audit and Risk Committee, as the Treasurer. This involves a deep look into the financial aspects of RFW, as well as all other risks including clinical governance.

The other is being an Investment Committee member. Here, we oversee RFW’s substantial investment portfolio, which includes a variety of listed and unlisted assets, as well as our large real estate holding.

How long have you been here?

I’ve been a Director for nearly two years. My experience of clients has been very limited so far – and COVID-19 hasn’t helped: I hoped to join this year’s Ride for Country Kids, and to take a trip with the Healthy Kids Bus Stop. As a Board, we were hoping to hold a meeting in a rural area where we could see more of the circumstances our clients experience. I’m looking forward to improving my understanding in this way in 2021.

What led you to work at RFW?

A few things. Firstly, I have skills which are relevant to the finance, risk and investment aspects I mentioned. The Board actively seeks out a balance of skills across its members, and I was put forward by another Board member when a vacancy arose.

Secondly, I’m interested in governance (i.e. Board) roles because I’m no longer in a traditional full-time job, and I now have the time and relevant experience to be a Director. I became interested in governance when I was a professional investor and regularly met with listed company Boards. That led me to complete the Company Directors Course at the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and then to my first two volunteer Board roles prior to joining RFW. I also have two paid Board roles with for-profit companies, as well as doing some consulting in my real area of expertise, the energy sector.

Thirdly, I’m a local! RFW is an important part of the Manly community, and as we progress with developing the old site on the beachfront, I think it is important the Board includes at least one denizen of the beaches! That adds to our strong representation, drawing on rural communities, clinical experience and client experience, among other characteristics, that our Board possesses.

Describe your typical day

We work around the scheduled Board and Committee meetings – totalling about 12 per year. Committee Chairs get involved in setting agendas. The management team produces excellent briefing papers, which we read in preparation – and this can take quite some time. The meetings can be an all-day affair for the full Board, or one or two hours for the Committees. There is usually some follow-up on various action items, usually (in my case) with Lindsay (CEO) or Mark (CFO).

What’s the best thing about working with families from rural and remote Australia?

The facts are very clear – we are meeting a huge need which the traditional health / education systems seem unable to. It is also very clear that if we can intervene early, we can reduce the lifelong costs and impacts of developmental delay, and hopefully break any intergenerational disadvantages. I can’t think of many more important issues to address – and it is one where I believe we can clearly make a difference.

What do you think makes RFW unique?

I think there are a couple of things.

Firstly, it seems to me RFW was client-focussed well before this was the trend! We are focussed on the overall outcomes for clients and we are not overly restricted by the silos of the bureaucracy which – in my opinion – really ought to be solving the problems we are solving. We work across health and education, face-to-face and remote, physical and mental health, and across clients, their families and their communities.

Secondly, I believe we have massive leverage to actually solve the problems of developmental delay for rural and remote children. We will probably never have the physical capacity to do it all directly ourselves – whether on-site or via telehealth – but I don’t think we need to. What we really need to do is clearly show HOW to solve the problem, and use our influence and advocacy to ensure others adopt our practices and deploy the capacity. This is why it is so important that we (a) continue to make our programs absolutely excellent in terms of their efficiency and impact and (b) we continue to engage actively with funders, research partners and other stakeholders to apply that pressure on the lever.


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