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Shire CEO reveals new game plan

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Patricia Gill, Denmark Bulletin

Denmark Shire chief executive David Schober will officially end his tenure on July 11 to return to a lifelong passion, coaching basketball.

Former professional basketball coach David will take a ‘dream job’ at the Denmark Senior High School vacated by dual Olympian Paul Rogers.

David leaves after serving with the Shire of Denmark from September 2017 when he came to Denmark to fill in while the recreation centre manager took long service leave.

After six months he served as community services manager for 18 months, before landing the chief executive role.

“It was never by design,” David says of his appointment to a role he regards as challenging, particularly in a ‘passionate’ community like Denmark.

At the time he was appointed David and his wife, Juliet, ran the business, Over The Moon Organics, from a dairy of 25 staff which supplied goat and cow cheese and yoghurt.

The demands of the job and the recent passing of his mother-in-law meant that the Schobers revaluated their priorities and closed the cheese and yoghurt production on their farm.

The Schobers always planned that David would only work as CEO for five years but the offer of the coaching job has been too good to pass up.

Another factor in the ‘important but tough decision’ is that the Schober children – Georgia, 17, Luke 15, and Scarlett, 13 – are at an age when their father would like to spend more time with them.

David said it had been a privilege to have served as CEO on behalf of the community and council.

He is particularly proud of the way the Shire managed through the COVID pandemic given that other local governments had struggled.

“We actually continued our construction program, did not lay any staff off, which meant economic activity in town was strong,” he said.

Denmark was noted in the top 10 per cent on the resilience scorecard for WA local governments.

“Also we were recognised through COVID as one of the top local governments in Australia for responses – basically redeploying staff into areas of need, particularly into the CRC,” David said.

The February 2022 bushfires were another challenge with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services recognising the Shire’s effort as first class.

“If it wasn’t for volunteers particularly, and the support of DFES, I shudder to think where it may have ended up,” David said.

The Shire administration building grounds overnight housed more than 60 structures of fire appliances, portables, demountable buildings etc. and an additional 150 people.

Melbourne-born and raised David switched from playing basketball to coaching after an ankle injury while at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

He arrived in the Great Southern in 1997 to coach the Great Southern Raiders, previously coaching in Queensland in Victoria.

Before leaving David will oversee the completion of the Shire strategic community plan and a revamp of the financial plan.

He says that as Denmark is a growing community and due to a reliance on tourism he would like to see more help for small business.

The Great Southern has more small businesses than anywhere else in the State and many struggled under the influx of tourism as a result of COVID.

“Support for the Chamber of Commerce and economic development is really important,” David said.

A total of 1700 pieces of community feedback for the strategic community plan pointed to roads and infrastructure, supporting families and youth as well as economic development and tackling the homelessness crisis.

“The only way to achieve that (economic development) is to partner with community groups in a more significant way; local governments cannot do it by themselves,” David said.

David lists Greenskills, Denmark Environment Centre and Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee as groups which support what Den- mark is known for and are important for it to thrive.

The Denmark Chamber of Commerce gets special mention for their role with the business sector and tourism.

“They have picked up some essential gaps and have tried to fill those and done an outstanding job for a relatively small organisation,” David said.

“They punch well above their weight.” He will leave with fond memories having always felt supported by the Denmark Shire Council, generally speaking.

David concedes that some councils function better than others and there are challenges.

“There’s always the contentious topics and everyone will have their opinion and all you can do as CEO is present the facts and let the cards fall as they do in terms of the resolution of Council,” he said.

“It’s not always a system that works well but the recent reforms (to the Local Government Act) will go some way to making it a little bit better.”

Denmark Bulletin 20 April 2023

This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 6 April 2023.

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