Meet the 103-year-old who refuses to retire

David Goodall had other ideas when he was told he had to retire at the age of 65.

David Goodall, an ecologist, still goes into his office at Edith Cowan University four days a week. And he has no plans of stopping any time soon.

Almost 40 years ago David, who was then working at the CSIRO, was forced to retire from paid work as part of the government’s policy of the day.

His daughter, Karen, says the then 65-year-old had no intention of actually stopping work.

“He just assumed he was going to continue to work…so he just continued to do exactly the same except for free of charge,” she tells Insight.

David Goodall
A young David Goodall. Photo: Supplied

And that’s exactly what David has been doing ever since.

“I have nothing much else to do. I enjoy my work,” David says.

He continued working with the CSIRO in an unpaid role for almost 20 years until he says “they decided to charge me for the privilege”.

“I wanted to continue working with CSIRO I would have had to pay this bench fee which luckily I was given the opportunity of avoiding by going to Edith Cowan University."

The ecologist, who studies vegetation and animals, now spends his days editing journals, reviewing academic papers, and contributing to research. He admits his health has now stopped him from getting out in the field.

But his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed - he received an Order of Australia for his contributions to science at the sprightly age of 101.

Karen says without his honourary work she doesn’t think he would last much longer.

“I don't think that he would survive very long. His work is his hobby as well as his passion, his interest, and without his work I don't think that there would be a purpose for him anymore,” she says.

And David plans to stay put right until the end.

“Oh, until I die which will be pretty soon I suppose,” he tells Jenny Brockie.

This week Insight looks at what it takes to stay in a changing workforce. | The Late Shift - Tuesday 17 October, 8.30pm SBS