For more than a decade, PDG Phil Dempster, provided support to and oversight of Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM) Australia. This year, Phil decided to step down from RAM. In his true generous fashion, Phil is available to us at anytime. To celebrate Phil’s achievements in Rotary and RAM, Dr. Jen Parer D9790 RAM District Supervisor, compiled the following story on Phil with contributions from Dave Pearson, immediate past National Manager, and Phil himself.
In the early years
Phil was born in Maryborough Qld in 1943, the eldest of five siblings. He left school to join the Qld Public Service during year 11 in 1958 but after two years left to join a couple of mates cutting sugar cane prior to joining the Army. The time in the Army included two years in Malaya and Borneo. He completed his matriculation by correspondence during this time.
Sergeant Phil left the Army in 1967 and spent two years wandering Australia before settling in Adelaide where he joined the American Photocopy Equipment Company (APECO) in 1969. Over a period of 10 years he rose from salesman to Branch Manager (Adelaide and Perth) to National Sales Manager (Sydney). With an associate he started a new office equipment business in Perth in 1979.
Phil married Lyn in Brisbane in 1973 and has succeeded in dragging her all over Australia. His other interests include the theatre, reading, travel and collecting and drinking fine wines. He has been an Associate Judge at the annual Cairns Wine Show and in 2014 was appointed Chief Steward, a role he continues in today.
The start of Rotary
Phil’s life in Rotary all started in January 1975 when he was invited to join the Rotary Club of North Perth and three weeks later was appointed Bulletin Editor. 1977-1978 saw him as a member of the Ku-ring-gai Rotary Club in Sydney. On returning to Perth in 1979 Phil rejoined the North Perth Club until joining the Northbridge Club in 1989.
Phil held most Club positions at North Perth and was President 1984/1985. He was a YEP Student Counsellor and Rotary Foundation Scholar Counsellor during this time.
Moving to Cairns in December 1990, Phil was invited to become a member of the Rotary Club of Cairns Earlville in 1991, and he subsequently held several directorships prior to being appointed Assistant Governor in 1997. His District responsibilities included one year as Bulletin Collator, three years as AG, four years as District Rotary Foundation Chair and three years as District Trainer (not all at the same time). He is currently the Cairns Trinity Club’s Executive Secretary.
Phil was District Governor in 2008-2009 and during his year, District 9550 was the only District in Zone 8 to achieve a 10% membership increase.
Phil served 2 years as District Membership Chair and also served on the RAWCS Northern Region committee as RAM Chair and D9550 RAWCS Chair. He has served as Assistant Zone Coordinator in 2011 and 2012, and was D9550’s Representative to the Council on Legislation in 2013. In July 2015 he took on the role of Northern Region RAWCS Chair.
Phil is a member of the Paul Harris Society and a Benefactor to the Foundation.
Phil’s involvement with RAM
Phil became involved with RAM in 2009 when he was nominated as Northern Region RAM Chair and since then, three years as Deputy National RAM Chair and three years as National RAM Chair, 2013-2015.
In August 2010, as Northern Region RAM Coordinator, Phil reported to the RAM Conference that the Timor Leste National Malaria program was now open to considering assistance. Phil had a long association with Timor Leste RAWCS projects through D9550 and RAWCS Northern Region, and on several visits related to other projects had met with the Timor Leste’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Malaria Program (NMP) officials.
With encouragement from then RAM National Chair PDG Ian Sayers and RAM National Funding Coordinator Richmond Manyweathers, Phil arranged for Maria Do Rosario de Fatima Mota (Maria Mota) and Fernando da Concencao representing the TL NMP to attend the 2011 RAM Conference in Brisbane. These speakers highlighted gaps in the Global Fund-supported Malaria program and as a result RAM resolved to provide 20,000 long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to assist.
Phil further developed the relationship with the NMP and arranged for RAM volunteers to assist in LLIN distributions in Manatuto and Bobanaro during 2012. Following this, the need for specific distributions of LLINs for hospitals and expectant mothers was highlighted, and Phil coordinated a Global Grant to provide 1000 conical LLINs for hospitals and a further 20,000 LLINs for distribution to expectant mothers.
In 2013/14 Phil and Richmond coordinated another delivery of LLINs, and Phil assisted with a team of Rotary Volunteers to assist with the distribution of these nets in the Maubara / Liquica area.
The RI Convention was held in Sydney in 2014 and Phil Coordinated the Malaria break-out sessions with PDG Ian Priestley from REMARAG.
In 2014 /15 Phil coordinated a second Global Grant to provide for a further round of distributions of maternal LLINs, and these nets were finally delivered in 2016. Overall, Phil has facilitated the donations of 72,000 LLINs to Timor Leste to protect at least 144,000 Timorese.
In 2016, Northern Region RAWCS presented Phil with a RAWCS Humanitarian Service Award for his many years of service to NR RAWCS and RAM.
In addition to the above, Phil initiated the concept that RAM should sponsor a PhD student working on malaria and vector control and his idea was endorsed at the 2015 RAM Conference. Phil then undertook the main thrust of negotiations with various tertiary institutions and worked closely with Prof Tom Burkot and the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) to select our first candidate. Phil continued to support RAM by being the Rotary / RAM Councillor for Edgar Pollard and his family when they arrived in Cairns.
Phil was also a great sponsor and promoter of the chartering of the Rotary Club of Dili Lafaek, and strongly promoted the association with RAM and the NMP in the Timor version of the Healthy Village program.
Phil has been Project or Team Leader on five RAWCS Projects in Timor Leste. Two of these were water related, two were malaria related and one, whilst Secretary of Learn Grow (now Plant Food Solution RAG), brought that program to Timor Leste.