Meet the team: Steven

Hello. My name is Steven, and I’m a Board Member of Royal Far West.

Describe your role

I joined the Board in February 2018 and am currently the Vice Chair as well as the Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee. This means I attend Board meetings and assist the Chair “where I can” in managing Board activities and liaising with RFW staff and clients. We are very lucky at RFW as all the Board Members are passionate about the services we provide and are very keen to assist where possible. At present, the Board is concentrating on ensuring the CEO and her team have everything they need to continue delivering service and support to our clients in these challenging and uncertain COVID-19 times. We still meet at our regular times, albeit most often via video conferencing.

What’s your background?

I was a Naval Officer for 21 years in the Executive Branch. During that time I qualified as a Bridge Watchkeeping Officer, primarily serving in destroyers including HMAS Perth, Brisbane, Parramatta, and Vampire, then did further specialist training in Australia and the USA. I left the Navy in 2000. Key roles since then have been Chief Operating Officer and then Managing Director of Hearing Australia, and Executive General Manager at Airservices Australia.

What do you think about RFW?

We are regularly updated on client issues, and I am so proud of the efforts of the RFW team to support country children and their families. During COVID-19, the work every staff member is doing to maintain a service to our clients is brilliant. Our CEO has advised us that although most of our staff are working from home, RFW has been able to provide a level of service which is nearly at full capacity. This is an outstanding achievement. Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, most organisations are in “unchartered” territory and their operations are desperately trying to get back to a level of normality. For RFW to be able to maintain operations is such a credit to the CEO and the whole team.

What led you to join RFW?

Part of the service at Hearing Australia was providing hearing services to children. At the National Head Office (located in the Business Park at Macquarie University) we had a large paediatric clinic. On one occasion I was walking past the clinic and noticed a young couple in the waiting room with a newborn child, and unfortunately both parents were crying. I asked my colleague what was wrong and was advised the baby girl had failed her screening test, and the parents were uncertain of the road ahead. Two months later I walked past the clinic and happened to see the same parents in the waiting room, and this time they were laughing and playing with their baby. I was intrigued and enquired what had happened. The difference this time was the parents had clinicians who advised them what the problem was, how Hearing Australia could help them, and that clinicians would be with them all through their journey. That was a milestone moment for me, and since then I have wanted to join an organisation which helps people through their journey and one which I might be able to assist in some way. I found that at RFW.

What do you love about RFW and what makes it unique?

My wife was raised in Boggabri, a small country town in North Western NSW with a population of 850, and her family needed to travel 120km to Tamworth for their medical appointments. We still have a lot of family and friends in the area who say that access to medical services still requires travel to a major town, and then you may still experience difficulties due to appointment cancellations or the absence of clinicians due to retirement or movement out of town.

In my two years at RFW I have been fortunate to visit some of our country areas. What I have found and, most importantly, what I love about RFW, is the caring nature and commitment of our staff and volunteers to support our clients and their families. I have had the privilege of talking to many of our families and hearing their stories – they all say that once they were able to access our services, they had an overwhelming sense of relief as they finally had someone who was there to help them on their journey. The ability to look after clients and provide support to their families either onsite in Manly, via telehealth or in-community, makes RFW a truly unique service provider, and I’m proud to be a part of the team.


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