Scholar Profile - Horst Bemmerl PDF Print E-mail
Horst Bemmerl


Board Director & Treasurer at MSWA

Awarded a Bankwest Foundation / AICD scholarship for Advanced Not-for-Profit Governance, May 2018

What sort of work does your organisation do?

MSWA provides vital support and services to people living with neurological conditions in Western Australia. This includes people living with multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease, and acquired Brain Injury, to name a few. MSWA is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation. The money raised through fundraising efforts, government grants and other income generating programs goes directly to providing a range of supports and services to people living with MS, and other neurological conditions.

Describe a typical day's work.

As a board director and Treasurer for MSWA my work involves oversight and direction in the organisations operations and strategies. This includes corporate governance, risk management, financial management and compliance. As Treasurer my role is to ensure that organisations financial management and reporting is accurate and of high integrity. I sit on monthly board and committee meetings that deal with a range of issues to ensure the sustainability and growth of the organisation. Whilst I have been a board member, MSWA has grown from a turnover of around $15m to over $50m today.

What were some of the key learnings from the Advanced Not-for-Profit Governance course?

The course was extremely beneficial for Board Directors to identify and manage key governance issues in NFP organisations. This included such things as evaluating and driving performance, identification and analysis of strategic issues, understanding and analysis of board dynamics.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

The course provided us with the tools and frameworks to address the negative impacts and enhance the positive impacts of the issues that NFP boards face. Since completing this course, I have requested a number of changes to the structure and manner that our board meetings are conducted. I also have requested a special board meeting to address specific strategic issues that the board need to analyse. Having a greater understanding of the governance issues covered by the course has greatly benefited me in my role as a board director.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

I had some exposure to people living with neurological conditions when a former employer took a conscious decision to employ a number of people with these conditions. I took a greater interest when a person in my extended family was diagnosed with MS. This led me to make the decision to embark on some type of volunteering to assist people living with MS and other neurological conditions. When a position as a board director became available with MSWA, I thought that was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to help in some way. Since being a Board Director, I have taken pride in the increased support MSWA has been able to provide.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

NFP organisations are going through significant reform presently with the implementation of the NDIS scheme. The sustainability of NFP disability organisations will require them to become more efficient and seek to scale their businesses. This will require specific strategies and will require them to consider possible mergers and acquisitions to ensure their sustainability. This will also require strong partnerships and communications with all stakeholders.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I have had a long association with surf lifesaving. This included being a coach/age group manager for the juniors 8-15yo’s over many years. I was also a driver of the surf rescue boat.

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"The course provided us with the tools and frameworks to address the negative impacts and enhance the positive impacts of the issues that NFP boards face."


Horst has spent the last 23 years in financial and commercial management, and has simultaneously been an advocate of community-based organisations through his involvement in the Mullaloo Surf Life Saving Club as Age Group Leader, Patrol Officer and Board Member. He has contributed to MSWA since 2010, serving on the board as a non-executive director and Treasurer.

In 2018, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the AICD's Advanced Not-for-Profit Governance as part of the Bankwest Foundation Community Leader Scholarship Program.


Annual revenue / size:

Extra Large - more than $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:


Operating in: