The David Scott Story


Commissioned by: The Davids Group

Produced: 2019

Length: 14.28 minutes

David Scott circa 1980, courtesy of the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

The film features archival footage from the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Courtesy Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Richard Tanter, still from the film ‘The David Scott Story’, courtesy Wind & Sky Productions.

David Scott was one of a handful of Australians to witness the eve of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Photograph by Michael Richardson, 1975. Courtesy Michael Richardson and The Age.

Caroline Scott, still from the film ‘The David Scott Story’. Courtesy Wind & Sky Productions.

David Scott in India circa 1966, courtesy of Oxfam Australia.

David Scott had an extraordinary life, beginning as a young navy recruit in WW2. Still from the film ‘The David Scott Story’. Images courtesy of Caroline and Matthew Scott.

Peter Hollingworth, still from the film ‘The David Scott Story’, courtesy Wind & Sky Productions.

The Story

Melbourne activist David Scott spent a lifetime fighting poverty, was a pioneering advocate for East Timor, and created an enduring legacy in social justice and environmental reform.

Through the recollections of people who knew him this gentle, reflective story unpacks David Scott’s life.

Beautifully crafted, the film is also a powerful visual reminder of the social transformations of late 20th century Australia.

Featuring Adrian Harris, Peter Hollingworth, Caroline Scott, Lucinda Horrocks, Richard Tanter and Mick Lumb and incorporating historic images from the archives of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Oxfam Australia, the United Nations, the Richardson East Timor Papers and others this memorable short documentary film will leave you wanting more.

More About David Scott

David Horace Ford Scott (1925-2012).

Once described as ‘one of Australia’s giants in social welfare and social policy’, David Scott was a prominent Australian who had an extraordinary life. He witnessed crucial events in Australia’s history: the Great Depression, the Pacific War, the invasion of East Timor.

He took action where he saw injustice, extraordinary action in the case of East Timor, and he left a lasting mark on the organisations he helmed, as he led them from a 1950s mentality towards the modern phenomenon that is the ‘NGO’.

He is known for many roles, prominent amongst them being the founding director of Community Aid Abroad in the 1960s, the Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence in the 1970s and the Chair of the Land Conservation Council and Victoria’s first Commissioner for the Environment in the 1980s. Perhaps most famously, in 1975 on a visit to East Timor to oversee a delivery of international aid, David was one of a handful of Australians to witness events on the eve of the Indonesian invasion of Dili. The experience prompted him to drop all commitments and fly to New York to campaign for justice for the tiny island nation.

David’s character was an interesting mix of conflicting traits: he was both shy and bold, modest but a risk taker, pragmatic yet philosophical, adventurous though plagued by lifelong low self esteem. In 1954 the young Second World War navy veteran stumbled almost accidentally into a life of advocacy on the advice of his pioneering uncle Father Tucker, but once he found his vocation he pursued it with ingenuity, perseverance and gusto.

Driven by a personal mantra to ‘always say yes’ to opportunity despite his pervasive self-doubt, David played a significant part in the transformation of Australian public values and policies in the second half of the Australian 20th century. Growing into a quiet yet determined leader, with political skill and pragmatic goals, he encouraged those around him to step up and become activists for change.

In the eyes of those whom he mentored and worked with, David Scott provided a remarkable example of how to navigate complexity and create change that is just as relevant today as it was in David’s era.

Further Reading

David Scott with Carrie Hutchinson, 2014, ‘Always Say Yes: the Life of David Scott’, Pier 9, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.

Screenings and Events

The film is free to show, watch and share online at internet quality at The David Scott Story on YouTube.

To arrange for a high quality screening copy for community screenings and events contact Wind & Sky Productions.

The Making of the Film

The film was commissioned by ‘The Davids Group’: David Green, David Hall, Hayden Raysmith and Mike Salvaris; an informal group of friends who knew and had been mentored by David Scott.

The Davids Group, working with the Brotherhood of St Laurence as auspice, was instrumental in publishing David Scott’s memoir ‘Always Say Yes’ which was published posthumously in 2014.

They then commissioned Wind & Sky Productions to make a short film about David Scott’s life which was completed in 2019.

The producers would like to thank all those who gave generously in terms of time, expertise and funds to make this film a reality. Particular thanks go to David Scott’s children Caroline and Matthew, to our marvellous brains trust community of experts on call from distant parts of Australia and around the world, and to the many organisations who gave us access to extraordinary original content.

But we have many others to thank, listed in the credits below.


In memory of
David Scott 1925-2012
Featuring (in order of appearance)
Adrian Harris, Peter Hollingworth, Caroline Scott, Lucinda Horrocks, Richard Tanter, Mick Lumb
Directed by
Jary Nemo
Written and Produced by
Lucinda Horrocks and Jary Nemo
Research advisors
Adrian Harris, Carrie Hutchinson, Sue Roff, Caroline Scott, Matthew Scott, John Waddingham
Archival audio, photographs, film and news clippings courtesy of
The Brotherhood of St Laurence Archives, CHART Clearing House for Archival Records on Timor, East Timor Relief Association (ETRA) Archives, Fairfax Syndication, The Library of Congress, Northern Territory Library, Ira and Faith Renton Collection, Oxfam Australia Photographic Archive, Sue Roff, Matthew and Caroline Scott, Snowy River Mail, State Government of Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, United Nations Department of Public Information, New York, University of New South Wales, Michael Richardson Papers, Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, World Meteorological Organisation
Specific acknowledgements
‘Beautiful Melbourne’, silent film, 1946, (J.G. Fitzsimons), produced by Jack Fitzsimons for the Brotherhood of St Laurence. © Brotherhood of St Laurence; ‘These are our children’, silent film, 1947, (K. Coldicutt, R. Mathews) produced by the Melbourne Realist Film Unit for the Brotherhood of St Laurence. © Brotherhood of St Laurence; East Timor, photographs, October-December, 1975, photographer Michael Richardson, University of New South Wales archives, courtesy of Michael Richardson and the Age. © Michael Richardson and the Age; Order of East Timor Ceremony, photographs, Melbourne, 2010, photographer Richard Kendall, courtesy of Oxfam Australia. © Oxfam Australia; United Nations Security Council, New York, photograph, 1975, photographer Teddy Chen, courtesy of United Nations Department of Public Information. © United Nations; United Nations Fourth Committee, New York, photograph, 1981, photographer Milton Grant, courtesy of United Nations Department of Public Information. © United Nations; United Nations Fourth Committee, New York, 1982, photographer Yukata Nagata, courtesy of United Nations Department of Public Information. © United Nations; ‘UN Headquarters Exteriors’, 1970, archival b-roll, produced by the United Nations. © United Nations; ‘East Gippsland : a bright future’, video, 1987, produced by the Community Education and Information Branch, Victorian Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands. © State Government of Victoria, DELWP; ‘Beautiful Conspiracy’, music, composed by Chris Haigh, via PremiumBeat. © Chris Haigh; Alaricio Fernandes reporting invasion of Dili, 7 December 1975, audio recording. Courtesy of CHART Clearing House for Archival Records on Timor.
Orphan works
This film includes archival creative works which remain in copyright. We have tried to identify, locate and contact all rights holders, but some works may remain unattributed. If you recognise yourself as a rights holder, we apologise for the omission and welcome you to come forward so we can negotiate in good faith to obtain permission and discuss your wishes. Contact via www.windsky.com.au or post to Wind & Sky Productions, PO Box 679W, Ballarat West, Victoria, Australia, 3350.
With thanks to
Matthew Scott, Caroline Scott, Vivian Papaleo, Jeannie Zhakarov, Tony Nicholson, Tim Nayton, Rob Hudson, Catherine Arnold, Tricia Szirom, Conny Lenneberg, Keith Parsons, Helen Szoke, Joan Phillips, Dr Gillian Sparkes, Doreen Ross, John Waddingham, Robert Wesley-Smith, Gil Scrine, John Hughes, Deane Williams, Yvonne Rulikowski, Peter Christoff, Jock Murphy, Paddy Handbury, Judy Patterson, Sue Mathews, Dan Mathews, Helen Sykes, Victorian Government Library Services, United Nations Photo Library Staff, United Nations AV Library Staff, Brotherhood of St Laurence Library Staff and Volunteers, Northern Territory Library Staff.
Executive producers
David Green, David Hall, Hayden Raysmith, Mike Salvaris
Project auspiced by
The Brotherhood of St Laurence
Acknowledgement of country
Project production and development took place on the lands of the Wadawurrung, Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples. We would like to acknowledge these Traditional Owners and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future.
This film has been released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license
Production company
A Wind & Sky Production
Copyright with
© Wind & Sky Productions MMXIX