Sir David Martin Foundation was officially launched by HRH, The Duchess of York, at Parliament House in Sydney in November 1990. The Foundation’s main aim is to support young Australians who are in crisis or at risk and who need encouragement, guidance and hope.
During his time as Governor of NSW, Sir David Martin witnessed many young people caught in the destructive world of drugs, alcohol, homelessness and abuse. Whenever he met them, he sought to encourage them to develop their undiscovered potential so they may better their lives.
In a speech to the Australia Day Council of New South Wales, Sir David expressed his concern for the young people of Australia.
"...All those youngsters living away from their homes, in the back streets, the tunnels and the gutters, existing on a diet of drugs, violence, sickness and disease, cold, hopelessness and loneliness. That’s a big mess to clean, but we shouldn’t have let it get so fouled up. Every one of us has to try harder to bring all children up properly and prepare them to inherit Australia from us. These children are our most important assets for Australia’s future, yet we are carelessly squandering those assets….”
In his last weeks as Governor, just before his death, Sir David began discussions with Charles Chambers, the then head of Sydney City Mission (now Mission Australia). Charles recalled these discussions during SDMF's 15th Anniversary in 2005:
"When I retire in a few weeks time, he told me, I want to help one charity and that charity is the Sydney City Mission. How can I best do that?"
I replied, "You could lend your name to raise funds for the Mission. How about the Sir David Martin Foundation?" On his last full day in office, Sir David rang again, "Well go ahead with that Charles, he said but I want you to add the words 'Caring for Young Australians'. I want it to help young people."
Sir David died just four days after leaving office, leaving Lady Martin to fulfil his wishes for the Foundation. Over the past twenty-eight years, Sir David Martin Foundation has expanded in size and in the number of young people it helps. From its beginnings with just one staff member, the Foundation has grown to have 5 staff who work to raise the funds to support effective youth programs, all operated by Mission Australia.