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David Atkinson OAM

inducted 2012 Service

About David Atkinson OAM

On graduating from Teacher Training College in Geelong David began his 37 years with the Education Department as a Primary School Teacher. Over the following years he taught in a number of district schools including Warrnambool Primary School and finished as Principal of Merrivale Primary School.

David was born in Warrnambool where he attended St. Ann's and then Christian Brothers College. His family had close connections with both schools over the years.

With his school years beginning at St. Anne's he went on to St. Joseph's CBC in 1949. By his own admission his years at school were uneventful but, never-the-less, he did enjoy his time at school. One vivid memory he has was when the ‘Parish Retreats' were held and involved the whole school attending afternoon Benediction at St. Joseph's Church. This was the only connection, outwardly, that CBC boys had with the St Ann's girls apart from the Friday evening dances at the Church Hall.

In 1955 David joined the Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club and took an active part in patrols and competition. He was Junior Club Champion in 1957 and again in 1958. He is still involved in the Surf Club and competed in the March Past Team that won ten consecutive State Titles - a feat never repeated by any other Surf Club in Victoria. He has also held the positions of President, Secretary and Chief Instructor during his time at the Club and was awarded Life Membership in 1988 for services to the Club and to Life Saving.

On leaving CBC David trained as a Primary School Teacher [1958-1959]. Over the following years he taught at Warrnambool Primary School, Allan's Forest, Dennington, as well as a short time at Allansford. In 1964 he transferred to Melbourne where taught at Campmeadows Primary School in Broadmeadows prior to being appointed a State Wide Relieving Teacher for three years which was followed by three years as a District Relieving Teacher in Ballarat. He then transferred to Golden Point Primary School for two years before moving back to Warrnambool.

While teaching in Ballarat David was President of the "Ballarat Under 14 Football League" and took an active administrative role in this organisation. He was also the organiser of the Ballarat State School's Athletics Carnival. Throughout those years he maintained his connection with the Warrnambool Surf Club and surf lifesaving in general.

Also during his years in Ballarat David took an interest in law and order and became an Honorary Probation Officer, a function he carried out for a number of years.

In 1965 David married Helen Baker a past pupil of Mary's Mount, Ballarat and a Trained Nurse. David and Helen had 4 children, Michael, Paul, Andrew and Kate. They returned to Warrnambool in 1973 when David was again appointed to the Warrnambool Primary School. The children attended their father's school for the remainder of their Primary Education. David resumed an active role with the Surf Club andwas appointedDistrict Supervisor for Surf Life Saving in South West Victoria for three years.

In late 1979 David was seconded to the Defence Department and was appointed to the RAAF School in Penang, Malaysia where he was Deputy Principal Primary for 1980 - 81. The children all attended the RAAF School for the two years and the family had the experience of living and working overseas. This was a great opportunity and experience for all family members. It was during this period that the familywitnessed the celebration of 100 years of the Catholic Church in Penang.

Following his return to Australia David spent twelve months teaching as a Senior Teacher at a Glen Waverly Primary School. At the conclusion of 1982 David was appointment to Merrivale Primary School in Warrnambool as Principal. He was to spend 12 years in that position where he witnessed the Merrivale School increase from 70 pupils to nearly 200 serving not only the Merrivale area but some parts of Warrnambool.

In 1987 he first stood for election to the Warrnambool City Council. This was the beginning of 21 years of involvement in Local Government.In 1990, following his return at the Council election in that year, David was elected Mayor for the first occasion. This appointment was to be repeated six more times during his years as a Councillor.

In 1992, while Mayor, David represented the City at the signing of the Sister City Agreement with Miura City Japan. This Relationship was signed both in Japan and here in Warrnambool. The 20th Anniversary of that occasion was celebrated earlier this year.

During the restructure of Local Government under the Kennett State Government David was appointed a Commissioner for Local Government working in the newly formed Moyne Shire with two other Commissioners. This work necessitated the bringing together of 5 local government areas into one - Moyne Shire.

After standing for Council at a number of elections David stood down in 2008. In recognition of his services to Local Government the Municipal Association of Victoria awarded him a certificate for Outstanding Service and a Mayor Emeritus award.

In 2003 David was given a wonderful honour when he was awarded an ‘Order of Australia' for services to the community of Warrnambool particularly through Local Government. In May 2001 hewas appointed a Justice of the Peace and in November 2003 he was appointed a Bail Justice. The latter position was relinquished in 2010. David still practises as a Justice of the Peace on a regular basis.

Since 1996 David has served on the Board of Lyndoch where he has held the position of Chairman on two occasions. He also served on the South West Community Road Safety Council and is currently serving on the Victorian Community Road Safety Alliance. He was recently appointed to the Warrnambool Cemetery Trust and is the current Treasurer of the Surf Club. David has also spent time as an Apexian and is currently a Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Warrnambool East.