Dalzell Maher in front of Kununurra Couthhouse

Dalzell Maher has lived an interesting life over the past 74 years, but despite being past retirement age he has no plans to hang up his hat.

To mark Seniors Week, Ventia is celebrating its older team members to show age is no barrier to making a valuable contribution to the business and to the community.

Dalzell is a care and custody officer for the Court Security and Custodial Services contract in Western Australia and lives in Kununurra in the remote Kimberley region, where the population is about 5,000.

Surprisingly, the quiet life is not indicative of Dalzell's preferred place of residence. 

He spent 25 years living in the Philippines capital of Manila, and nine months travelling around America, including Orlando Florida, where he sustained spinal injuries when the vehicle he was in was hit by a road train.

He loves to visit China, where some capital cities' population exceeds Australia's.

"I like a big city as you can get lost and speak to the locals," Dalzell said.

So how did he end up in Kununurra?

Dalzell grew up in the Northern Territory and spent much of his time with Aboriginal people. 

His father worked with Aboriginal people through his job, and Dalzell got to know them and used to play with their children. 

"I took part in the Aboriginal children's cultural lessons taught by the elders, so I got to know them and they accepted me," Dalzell said.

"I was the only white child, but I could sing their songs and speak their language."

He was so close to the Aboriginal people, he was welcomed into the Arrernte Nation, which covers Alice Springs and the Tennant Creek, when he was four.

He watched corroborees, and the elders made him his own boomerang, shield and woomera.

Dalzell even got to know the famous Indigenous landscape artist Albert Namatjira, who lived in nearby Hermannsburg. 

He moved to Queensland with his family when he was about 12, and after leaving school began an apprenticeship in sign writing and screen printing. He started his own business in the trade when he was 21, which kept him busy for 34 years, before he moved to the Philippines.

He returned to Australia 15 years ago and ended up in Kununurra when one of his friends suggested he drop in on his brother, "and I got stuck here I guess," Dalzell said.

After starting work at the local service station, Dalzell landed a job with the Kununurra hospital as an orderly, before joining Broadspectrum four years ago.

"Having worked at the BP and the hospital and now for CS&CS, most people know me," Dalzell said.

Dalzell Maher in front of Kununurra Couthhouse beside his car

Pictured: Dalzell Maher is a care and custody officer for our Court Security and Custodial Services contract in Western Australia and lives in Kununurra.

Kununurra is about 800km from Darwin and just over 1,000km from Broome. Dalzell and the CS&CS team often have to escort prisoners on planes to and from Broome Regional Prison due to the vast distances they need to travel.

Dalzell said the best part about his job was the people he worked with and the various people he meets.

"We have a great team here, but it can be an eye-opener, as I encounter scenarios that don't tend to come up with most other professions."

Dalzell said he liked working, so didn't plan to retire when he turned 65.

"I find that one needs a reason to get up each morning, to stay motivated, and being focused on the job at hand tends to keep me busy and healthy," Dalzell said.

"Despite my spinal injury from the road train crash, I have no pain, and I'm pretty fit because I've worked all my life."

Dalzell was planning to visit his friends in China when Coronavirus hit, and he said that may be his next stopping point.

I'll retire when the feeling motivates me to change my environment.