David Martin was educated at the Scots College, Sydney then joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1947 and graduated in 1950. After a long and distinguished naval career he retired in February 1988, with the rank of Rear Admiral.
He was sworn in as NSW’s thirty-fourth Governor on 20 January 1989 – the first RAN officer to hold the position. In December he was appointed KCMG.
In 1990 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and in a public announcement, he revealed his condition and impending resignation. Sir David and Lady Martin left Government House and he died three days later, on 10 August and was given a state funeral.
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….”
His concern for young people in crisis lead to the creation of Sir David Martin Foundation.