Aveo Derwent Waters retirement village resident Ivan Davis spent half his life following orders. Now he's found a new passion he hopes may help him change the rules.
Ivan Davis has two speeds: one flat stick and the other full throttle.
What the Aveo Derwent Waters resident doesn't have, however, is a single regret at not making the most of all the opportunities that have come his way.
After dedicating much of his career to the military, more recent times have seen the 67-year-old working to improve the lives of others via an assortment of roles, including foster carer, half-way house supervisor, community housing manager and trainer of the long-term unemployed.
Two years ago, he took on a new challenge after agreeing to contest his local seat on behalf of the Animal Justice Party.
While unsuccessful this time around, Ivan feels it's important to offer his voice for those unable to speak for themselves.
His efforts are not entirely selfless, he says.
"If I can walk and/or talk, I can provide some sort of community service and in those many and varied processes have fulfilment. Some people just need a quiet, non-judgemental, listening ear. I haven't driven a community bus for years but recently I typed up an old mate's stories before he died. I am thankful for all these opportunities because they create joy in my life."
Working out what's important
Born and raised on Kangaroo Island, Ivan's family were pioneer farmers and raised him and his five siblings on a subsistence farm which was surrounded by scrub.
Most of his schooling was completed by correspondence and school of the air. While he and his family enjoyed limited interaction with other people, they never considered that a disadvantage, he says.
In 1969, when Ivan turned 15, he joined the Australian Regular Army as an apprentice musician. Viewing music as his best means of communication, therapy and recreation, Ivan grew up with a bellows organ but later mastered the clarinet. In due course he reached a level significant enough to be playing lead chair in various Army bands while adding saxophone, flute, bass guitar, guitar and the bagpipes to his repertoire.
His pay at that time equated to around $85 per fortnight and for this he was given the opportunity to train as a soldier and a musician at the Army Apprentice School at Balcombe in Victoria.
Ivan says that at the time the program was run by ex-Vietnam veterans. Many had problems of their own in a society that often treated them as pariahs.
"The system was set up to allow apprentice with one or two years' experience to adminster and discipline newer, younger soldiers. Many did not survive this regime which was eventually abandoned due to its many failures."
Having passed selection, he was posted to Perth. After two years with the Special Air Service (SAS) regiment, he took discharge but after less than one year out of the army he re-joined.
While those early years in the army were undoubtedly tough, Ivan stuck at it and in a military career spanning 23 years, he reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class One with the appointment of Regimental Seargent Major at the Defence Force School of Music.
He was discharged for the second time in December 1992.