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Curtin University
John Curtin Day
John Curtin Medallists

Doug Paling (2003)

Doug Plaing has dedicated the past nine years to helping those in need through his tireless efforts in establishing the State’s leading food distribution organisation for people in need, Foodbank Western Australia Inc.

Initially holding a position in the corporate sector, Doug chose to sacrifice his own financial security to pursue a dream. His dream was to create a single, dedicated organisation with the appropriate food handling skills and distribution networks to effectively tackle hunger in the community. Inspired by research indicating much of the $20 million worth of Western Australian produced food was being dumped or going to animal feed, Doug established Foodbank Western Australia in 1994 from the boot of his car. Doug’s passion for the cause meant he quickly recruited professionals, tradespeople and general volunteers to help fulfil the dream.

A testament to his incredible determination and leadership, Doug now oversees the work of 40 core volunteers, five full-time and part-time staff and a large group of participants in various programs. He also employs people with disabilities from Rocky Bay Employment Services, giving them the chance to triumph over adversity.

Foodbank currently receives, collects and redistributes over 1.2 million kilograms of food annually, helping both those in need and the food industry. Last year alone, Foodbank provided half a million meals to those in need, using $1 million worth of edible but unsaleable food that would otherwise have been dumped.

Backed by a volunteer board of representatives from the corporate sector, food industry, community agencies and the government, Foodbank has forged important links with 400 community and welfare support agencies. Continually growing from its small beginnings in Perth, Foodbank has now established regional branches in Albany, Mandurah, Kalgoorlie and Geraldton, and maintains a close association with other Foodbank operations Australia-wide.

As part of an ongoing and ever-expanding community service ethos, education has become a significant part of Doug’s work in building a better tomorrow. Initiatives such as the Health Department’s “Foodcent$” program and “Apples for Kids” strive to teach young people the importance of healthy eating in the hope of preventing future problems.

Through his initial leap of faith, vision, leadership and passion for helping people, Doug has nurtured Foodbank into a widely recognised and respected organisation that is making a real difference in the community.