From refugee to community leader and workaholic

David Salmon, owner of A & D Salmon Pty Ltd, has been a long time supporter of the National Scholarship Program. He saw immediate value in the program through their first young person, Rapheala Rosella (Rosie), in 2005.

Rosie was a young person from Nimbin who had a dream of becoming a photographer. The scholarship was instrumental in her achieving that dream and she has been selected as one of 12 photographers to attend the World Press Joop Swart Master Class in Amsterdam in late 2014.

David says he saw the value of the program immediately through Rosie’s talent and dedication to improving her circumstances.

“I admired the fact that she had decided to turn her life around and do something meaningful… She didn’t have the available funds to pursue her chosen career and when she had an opportunity, she jumped at it. The immediate result was she got the funds, moved to South Australia and enrolled in a photography course. It’s good, it’s very good,” he says.

Rosie attributes her success in life to David’s generosity and thanks him for his help, she says she really couldn’t have done it without the help of the National Scholarship Program and his sponsorship. In response David says this is why he continues with the program.

“That (the thank you from Rosie) really does make you want to continue with the program. Obviously, the funds we’ve provided have gone to very good use and I mean, basically, if you help or contribute to the betterment of these young people then that’s a good thing.”

“A lot of them (the young people) aren’t going to do anything with their lives; a lot of those young kids will end up dying at an early age. Really, a lot of this program is saving lives, not to mention improving them,” he says.

David started a building company 22 years ago. Originally a carpenter, he started A & DJ Building Services specialising in commercial business repairs and alterations. David believes that philanthropy should be part of every successful business.

“If you run a business and you’re successful, you should give back,” says David. “We do support a number of other charities just through financial donations, but Youth Off The Streets is our main charity.”

“With Youth Off The Streets you can see the difference it makes to the recipients, they turn their lives around and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing that. We will continue to support the program while our finances allow us to do so,” he says.

During his 10 years of support, David has seen many young people turn their lives around and he speaks fondly of being part of the program.

“All of our recipients have been fantastic… you’ve got to say that. We’ve had one young girl take up a nursing career despite a terrible background of abuse and so forth, another that has achieved remarkable things through photography.”

David Salmon says that his company will continue to support the program, as long as their financial position allows, but he may be moving out of the construction business soon. He plans on continuing his support of the program through being a mentor to the young people.

“The building company I have won’t be around forever, it’s been 22 years… I’m getting a bit tired of it, so you never know, I might decide to do something else and I would definitely want to look into the mentoring program.”

If you have been inspired by David’s story and think you would get value out of contributing to the Scholarship program by becoming a sponsor or mentor, get in touch with the Scholarship Team on 02 9330 3500.

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