• Recent Speakers

Recent Speakers

Every month, Probus Perth invites a speaker to address members on his or her particular field of expertise or endeavour. Below are summaries of talks given recently. Summaries of various earlier talks are to be found within theArchivessection of the website.

Refer also to pages  “Addresses 2017“, “Addresses 2016” and  “Addresses 2015“.



Brian Greedy, August 2018

Peter Medd introduced Brian Greedy, who gave a fascinating but frightening view of where Australia was headed and what we would look like by 2050. Fortunately it is most unlikely any of us present would be around by then but you must be concerned for how your grandchildren will fare. In times past who would have predicted what the modern phone is capable of or how China has developed to be a world leader. At school we learnt Australia’s population was 6.5 million and already we have reached 25.0 million in 2018. Twenty pound a week was a good salary, now the equivalent $40 barely buys you a decent meal.

Population increase is the scariest and probably the most dangerous factor to the wellbeing of the planet. It is predicted the world’s population will be 9 billion by 2050. African and Muslim countries are still having big families and are becoming a greater percentage of that population. Typically these countries battle hardest to feed their population and provide a reasonable standard of living. What does this mean for the rest of the world and in particular, Australia?

Education and the jobs that we know of today are changing fast. The skills taught need to be aimed at what is required in the future not what the past has indicated. People skills, the ability to network and influence others will be the dominant qualities. Most jobs of the future will be part-time and short term as technology changes. The areas of job availability will be in the health industry; particularly the aged care section, education, hospitality, professional and technology areas and mining/construction skills will always be required.

Already we are seeing electric and driverless cars talked about and seen. This trend will gather pace as batteries are improved and technology improves. Uber are preparing for the day we see a service provided by them replace the need for a vehicle of your own.

Brian did not touch on animals in the wild but you have to wonder if there will be a habitat for them or will zoos be the only place many of them will even exist. Mike Forde thanked Brian on the members’ behalf.

Ray Purdy



Michelle Grant, July 2018

Michelle Grant, from The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) was introduced by Peter Medd.

The RFDS was commenced 90 years ago, by Reverend John Flynn. The first flight was out of Cloncurry, Queensland on 15th May, 1928. The aircraft was a de Haviland, single engine, timber and fabric biplane leased from QANTAS.

The RFDS is now one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical services in the world, with 69 aircraft of four types, Hawker, Pilatus, King Air and Cessna. In WA the RFDS had bases in Kalgoorlie, Carnarvon, Derby and Jandakot but now has only two – Jandakot and Broome (the area above Derby is served by the Northern Territory as it is closer). Australia wide, the RFDS flew 26million miles last year. As well as transfer services the RFDS undertake many medical clinics at remote stations and communities.

The Service recently had four Pilatus PC 12 aircraft delivered. The cost of these four was $22 million, including having them medically fitted out. BHP Billiton contributed $4.5 towards the cost of these aircraft.

This year the new Pilatus PC-24 has been delivered. This jet will halve the flying time over long distances of the Australian outback.

Whilst most of the RFDS funding comes from Federal and State Governments, approximately 20% is provided by donations from individual donors, communities and corporate partners.

Peter Medd

Michelle making her presentation.



Anne Brake, June 2018

Anne Brake from The National Trust of WA was introduced by Peter Medd. The National Trust’s aims are to remind us who we are and develop our connections. Western Australia really battled to survive in the early years. A lack of labour to build infrastructure was the problem. The answer was to introduce convict labour from the 1850s onwards. Things started to happen and with the gold rush in the Coolgardie/Kalgoorlie area the state really took off from the 1890s.

The gold rush in the dry area of Coolgardie/Kalgoorlie had to have water and Premier John Forrest’s solution was to engage New Zealand engineer C.Y. O’Connor to solve the problem. Producing water by boiling and condensing the local brackish water was expensive and could not meet the demand. O’Connor’s solution was a dam at Mundaring, a pipeline from the dam to the gold rush area and pump stations to push the water down the pipeline. For its time the dam was a great achievement and the original dam, since raised in height, is still a major component of the grid of connected dams which serve Kalgoorlie and the Metropolitan Area. The pipeline saw the invention of the steel pipes made in two halves with locking bar joints which had a smooth profile to reduce friction. Pipe lengths matched rail car capability and were joined in the field by a hemp and molten lead process. Initially the line was to be buried, but for detection and maintenance of leaks it was built above ground. The friction losses in the pipeline plus the higher elevation of the goldfields called for pump stations at Mundaring Weir, Cunderdin, Merredin, Yubelin, Gooli, 50 km short of Coolgardie and another out on its own. The spacing was designed to match the pipes capability to cope with the high pressure adjacent to a pump station and the ability to push water against the friction which increased with distance. O’Connor’s brilliance overcame all these difficulties but he did not “go the distance” – he committed suicide 10 months before the pipeline opened late in 1903. Without the support of John Forrest who had moved to Federal politics, O’Connor was given a terrible time by the local press, the local communities; in fact everyone seemed to be against him. It affected his health both mentally and physically and eventually lead to his suicide on 10th March 1903.

The pipeline resulted in towns springing up around pump stations and today it supplies branch lines which service a lot of the state’s northwest. The line was so important to WA that it was protected by a team of “home guards” during World War 2.

Albert Tognolini gave his usual witty thanks to Anne for a most interesting talk.

Ray Purdy



David Cook – May 2018

David Cook from ECU, in delivering his talk on “The Internet and Seniors”, gave almost all of us at our May meeting a huge “wake up” call. He started by telling us about his 11 year-old son who was able to find his way into Ikea’s pay section by cracking their password to gain entry. We need to accept that to-day’s generation of kids grow up with computers, they are way ahead of our Probus generation and going further ahead all the time. They are not all crooks and scammers but there are enough of them both here and abroad who can easily develop into very lucrative scamming roles for crooks.

Most of us have already encountered a lot of the scams that are thrown at us on a daily basis. David cited a few of them –

  •    The Telstra, Optus, Coles, Woolworths, Qantas, etc., phone calls or emails which seek to get your personal details by all kinds of means which are “too good to be true”.
  •    The very “nice” Flo/Florence/Doreen who is super convincing and super nice and happy to agree with anything you say in an attempt to get your personal information. Typically she ends up by offering to clear a very small debt for you if you give her the information to do it – you are saddled with that small debt repeatedly for the rest of your life because your bank won’t bother with small transactions and chances are you will not always notice it yourself.
  •     Free Wi Fi is a trap, particularly in popular places like coffee lounges and large cruise ships. The crooks will watch in these areas for those who give away personal details that they can see as easily as looking over your shoulder in free Wi Fi areas.
  •     Email “harvesting” is a lucrative exercise for those involved. The information can be on-sold to others or used by the harvester. By using such apps as the electoral role, birth records, marriage records and death records and others an experienced scammer can turn little more than your name and email address into knowing all about you.
  •     The social media such as Facebook can be dangerous if used carelessly. You are giving personal information to “the world”.

David offered a lot of good advice such as –

  •    Delete any email or text message that is too good to be true, immediately.
  •    Do NOT be rude to the persistent scam phone calls – say sorry not interested and hang up. Getting abusive can result in retaliatory action which can be a nuisance.
  •    Never give your email address as a means for charities or for that matter anyone who does not need it to contact you.

However even if you take notice of all his advice you should have a “phrase password” that is unique to you and has no link to your address, birthday, family members, family pets, etc. The “phrase password” should be changed every 6 months, should not be written anywhere and is something you can easily recall in your head. A “phrase password” could be the first letter of a favourite poem or song that you learnt as a kid and has always stuck with you.

Ned Overton thanked David on our behalf and suggested that we all go away and implement David’s advice. Get thinking about your “phrase password” and do something about using it to replace all the passwords you have and need to write down somewhere to remember them.

Ray Purdy



Lyn Coy, April 2018

As a descendant of the first free settlers to colonise West Australia, Lyn Coy was well qualified to tell us about the women of the Swan River Colony and why they were described as being grumpy. In general they were well educated women who had come from well off families in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They were very young and mostly with very young families or about to start young families.

Typical of the women was Ellen the wife of Captain James Stirling who came out on the HMAS Success in 1829 to establish a colony before the French thought about doing it. The French had been in the area in 1828 and abandoned the idea as they did not like what they had seen – flies, unattractive land, hostile natives and infertile soil. James Stirling had courted Ellen from age 14 and married her at age 16 giving birth to children almost immediately – she had 2 children by age 21. Their introduction to the Swan River was via Carnac Island where they landed after going aground on a sandbank in Cockburn Sound. Their possessions were ruined on the beach, their equipment was wrong and the possessions they had brought unsuited to what they encountered. Sea lions and tiger snakes abounded on Carnac Island to add to their misery.

Lyn ran through a list of grumpy women and gave a brief background to their experiences. The common theme was drunkenness, abuse, being very young with lots of children, suffering ill health and homesickness with relatively short lives – no wonder they were grumpy. A few of the names can be mentioned and you will note that a lot of the names are now remembered as various West Australian streets, areas, etc., are named after them.

Catherine Davies and daughter Charlotte were caught up in the alcoholic problem that resulted from alcohol being part of the rations as water was not always potable.

Mary Hokin battled on after her husband drowned in the Swan River.

Helena Dance became famous for her sewing box which has survived until today.

Elizabeth Dent endured an alcoholic husband who ended up in a mental asylum.

Ann Farmer/Watson/Walker had 9 children under 16 but could not attract a fourth husband.

Fanny Samson was married to Lionel and the family name lives on as eminent West Australians.

Granny Elizabeth Adams after living in Pinjarra and on Garden Island became known as the mother of Fremantle.

Georgiana Molloy produced a bundle of children in the Augusta area before dying at age 38.

And the list goes on.

Marion Medd, another descendant of these early settlers, thanked Lyn for her very interesting talk on our behalf.

Ray Purdy



Cameron Brook, March 2018

Peter Medd introduced Mr Cameron Brook, Principal tuba player with WASO, who spoke to us about his time with WASO and how he became a tuba player.

He started by telling us there are only 7 tuba playing jobs in Australia who earn a regular pay check. It is obviously a tough gig which you take on because you love it and certainly not with the expectation of it paying your way in life. Cameron says he was lucky but I suspect it was more his skills as a musician and his other attributes, together with being in the right place at the right time.

Like most young musicians, Cameron started on the piano and grew tired of it. His parents persuaded him to continue with something, so he selected what he believed was the most absurd instrument: the tuba. In time he got to enjoy it and this lead from the local brass band, to a combined schools ensemble, to music competitions, to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, to the Music College of Arts and in 1983 to WASO. He has been with WASO ever since, but he also teaches at UWA and WAAPA and heads up the Musicians’ Union.

Most people think of a tuba as that big instrument that sits in the back row of the orchestra – there are dozens of tubas of varying sizes and shapes. The Germans and Bavarians are the most famous tuba makers and inventors of new tubas. They started making them as far back as 1827.

It is a continual battle to fund the huge cost of running WASO and moving it around to the various concerts that are not on the home ground of the Perth Concert Hall. Whilst a lot of the revenue is generated from its programme of concerts, there is a heavy reliance on Government, both State and Federal and philanthropic support. The original staff of six in number has grown enormously, as WASO finds it is more economical to employ its own ticketing and promotion staff. Shifting the orchestra around is contracted out to specialists who have all the right equipment to handle instruments on and off planes, buses, etc.

Questioned on conductors, Cameron was full of praise for Asher Fisch, their current conductor. Respect, but ability to take control and make decisions having listened to band members’ ideas is a must for a good conductor.

Peter Medd thanked Cameron for his entertaining and interesting talk and gave him a bottle of wine as a token of our appreciation.

Ray Purdy

Cameron Brook addresses our members; March 2018



Steven Scourfield, February 2018

Peter Medd introduced the Travel Editor of the West Australian, one Steven Scourfield. Steven gave us a very interesting insight into what motivates him to travel and write – and he does a lot of both.

He likes to link his stories to places and people he has met and always aims to have his many readers feel attracted to and even friends with people in his stories.

Steven likes to take groups of people to places they would not otherwise even contemplate visiting. In planning his tours he selects destinations that are safe, different and where interest is created by the local people and their culture as much as by the scenic value. Some of the places he mentioned as safe came as a surprise to many of us – Botswana, Tanzania and Rwanda were on his ‘bucket list’. Having made a visit to such places he likes to think you are encouraged to revisit and reconnect with the locals you may have met.

He has been ‘everywhere man’ and how he copes with a life spent continually flying out of Australia and back to keep up with his real role as Travel Editor is a mystery and quite amazing. When asked about jet lag his response was – it is all in the mind and if you live the local time wherever you are there is no such thing as jet lag.

Roger Bussel thanked Steven on behalf of members and gave him a bottle of wine as a token of our appreciation.

Ray Purdy



Stuart Usher, November, 2017

Stuart started his talk with a rendition of Waltzing Matilda leading into “The Battle of Paradise” which was the historic sinking of the German warship the Emden by the Sydney.

It all started in Albany with the assembly of 30,000 men and 7,500 horses to be boarded on to ships bound for England to join the allied forces fighting the Germans in World War 1. The fleet was to be escorted by the Minator, Melbourne and Sydney as it crossed the Indian Ocean where merchant ships had suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Emden.

The Emden, captained by Carl Von Muller, had been stationed in Tsingtao in China prior to the start of World War 1. Tsingtao was abandoned in January 1914 at the outbreak of the war. The German fleet moved on to the German occupied Pagan Islands in the Pacific and then on to the Falkland Islands where a lot of it was destroyed. The Emden was a survivor of the Falklands and was relocated to the sealanes of the Indian Ocean. It had immediate success and was credited with sinking 25 merchant ships, the Russian warship Zhenchug and the French warship Mousquet. It was assigned to destroy the communications base on the Cocos Islands and the undersea cables which linked Australia to Europe. The Emden was accompanied by its collier ship as it was fuelled by coal.

Von Muller’s plan was to drop a shore party on Direction Island where they would wreck the shore facilities and locate and cut the undersea cables. That part of the plan went well with no resistance from the Cocos Island communications team. The Sydney intercepted an SOS and message that unknown warships were invading the Island. It steamed to the location and engaged the Emden which was taken by surprise. Whilst the Sydney had some casualties and suffered some damage, its heavier firepower overwhelmed the Emden and all but destroyed it. Von Muller scuttled it on to the reefs surrounding Direction Island and finally surrendered.

The German shore party escaped by restoring an old schooner, the Ayesha. They sailed first to Sumatra then eventually all the way to Constantinople. It was quite an accomplishment by the German Von Mieka who headed up the party.

The Sydney’s captain John Glossop sent a shore party to both assist on Direction Island and to rescue what remainder of Von Muller and his crew aboard the scuttled Emden who were incarcerated till the end of the war. Von Muller acknowledged that he and his crew were well looked after and had great respect for John Glossop.

Von Muller lived on to 1923 when malaria finally killed him, while John Glossop lived on till 1933. They had mutual respect for how each had performed in battle and after the surrender. How different to modern day behaviour!

Chris Davies confirmed Stuart’s account of the Emden/Sydney encounter by reading from a letter written by a distant relative who was involved with the fleet of men and horses bound for World War 1. Chris thanked Stuart on the members’ behalf and gave him a bottle of wine in appreciation.

Ray Purdy.



Leanne Plowright, October 2017

Leanne Plowright gave us a very interesting view of what Silver Chain was all about, how to go about getting a Home Care package and how to use it in conjunction with Silver Chain. She had an audience which is getting to a stage of taking real interest in this subject.

Silver Chain encourages staying in the family home and offers a ‘one stop shop’ on how to get the most out of life. It is important to maintain social connections and to get out and about with confidence and safety. They can help with whatever support, advice and/or action is required on a 24/7 basis. This support can range from house cleaning right through to palliative care.

The Government funded Home Care Packages start with an annual assessment by a small team which includes medical and financial expertise. The assessment will result in either eligibility to 4 levels of packages or non eligibility. The Level 4 package has a very long waiting list to get it started. It is the most costly and involves the most care. Lower levels still have waiting lists but are not so long. Silver Chain can assist with any level package and even if you are ineligible. Government funding pays for the care or part of the care or not at all depending on your Assessment for eligibility.

Silver Chain has fully trained and competent staff but does rely on volunteers. The volunteers go through a training programme before being used in the field.

Marion Medd thanked Leanne for her address on behalf of all members.

Ray Purdy



Paddy Evelegh, October 2017

I was asked to say a few words about how Fremantle Probus Club was faring as a Combined Club, having changed from a male only one back in 2013.

That year, after much soul searching about how to stem the dwindling membership numbers, our committee recommended that we became a Combined Club.

We knew that this would not be a popular move with some of the older members and so were careful to present statistics to prove that should we remain with the status quo, our club would be defunct through natural attrition and lack of interest.

I know you have lost members from your change. That was probably forecast and an unfortunate reality. However, I hope that you now find yourselves in a stronger position from making this move.

Our Club was very fortunate in having such a strong committee. Not only did we have a wealth of experience from dedicated members who had served in many different roles but also there was a definite stability for this guidance to continue.

Once the combined status was passed in accordance with the Constitution, there were five spouses who very soon made the initial foray into the Club. These were all well known to the existing membership, due to accompanying their husbands at various social venues. Several other wives and a couple of widows of previous members have since continued to join their husbands and this has obviously increased the solidarity of the Club.

Since the status change, we have welcomed twelve new couples into the club, plus five single men and six single women. Four of these couples have already taken up joint committee positions, including our current President. One of the single women is now serving as Vice President, so should become our Chairman next year. We also have a new single man leading our guest speaker programme.

In order to maintain a proportional gender balance, we have a recommendation that membership should be in the range of 60/40. Currently we are roughly 70/30, due to our original male membership, though anticipate that this will change over the coming years.

We are lucky in having many outgoing personalities among these newer members. Our Club has really concentrated in promoting active introduction and encouragement of all members, both new and old.

In this vein, we are now trialing thumbnail sketches of members, when time permits. This is allowing more opportunity for getting to really know others and making lasting friendships – which is, of course, what Probus is all about. It is interesting and encouraging to see that your club is also going down a similar track.

We also have a “humour spot” at the end of our committee reports. Luckily, we have a real joker within our ranks. He not only has an amazing capacity for definitely risqué stories but he knows exactly how to deliver them. I believe every club should cultivate such a person, if at all possible, to lift the mood of the meeting with a good few laughs.

We at Freo are now concerned that our club may be expanding too rapidly. Nothing wrong with that you may respond. Some concern has been shown by our committee that this may lead to some members being unprepared to start conversations with those that they know little about.

At every meeting I believe we should try to have chat with somebody that we never really knew much about previously. We can’t call everyone a bosom buddy but it is amazing how often we find that we have at least two or three friends in common or other shared experiences – just by possibly getting out of our comfort zone and talking to others.

If you have not asked your Liaison Officer to include you on the list of potential visitors, you should do so. This can show you how other clubs operate – maybe better or worse? Most clubs are very welcoming. I try to encourage newer members, when visiting for the first time, to be with a more experienced one, just to boost their confidence.

However our clubs are run, it is good to be innovative yet at the same time it is imperative to stay in close touch with our older members and ensure that their views are being considered.

We all have our own opportunities to serve our particular clubs. If you have not so far volunteered for committee work, ask yourselves why not. You may not realize it but many of the older members have already done their bit for the club. We need some of the newer members to bring up their newer ideas. Only this will make our clubs interesting and allow new friendships to develop.

Finally, we should recognise that if we want interesting people to join, we must make them really welcome when first they visit the club and continue to woo them until they are committed. No new retirees will wish to spend their long awaited leisure period with people who don’t impress them as being friendly and interesting.

Paddy Evelegh



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