Mr de Gelder (33), of Canberra, was training underwater with the Navy when a bull shark attacked, taking his right arm and leg, in Sydney Harbour in 2009.
He returned to the water three months later and now speaks on behalf of the Navy Clearance Diver Trust, which supports clearance divers injured or killed while serving, and their families.
Trust secretary Ian Milliner, of North Fremantle, said: ‘I joined the Trust after Paul was injured because they were literally passing the hat around a barbecue and I thought we could do better than that.’
A RAN clearance diver during 1979-88, Mr Milliner said members of the 200-strong force were currently clearing explosives while embedded with troops in Afghanistan.
Warnbro MLA Paul Papalia, a former clearance diver, helped establish the trust to support injured divers and their families and it is planned to establish a $5 million fund to pay for divers’ physical and psychological care, education and looking after their children.
‘For example, there was a diver who injured his back in the eastern states recently and who was invalided out of the Navy, but Veterans Affairs would only pay for his Tafe education and not a degree which we’ll help pay for,’ Mr Milliner said.
The trust mirrors work done by the Special Air Service Resources Trust that was created when 15 of the elite land-based soldiers from its Swanbourne Barracks died in the Black Hawk helicopter disaster in Queensland in 1996.
Breakfast tickets at $100 per head can be booked at ncdt.org.au/eventtickets.php.