A Tribute to David Prideaux - Williamson Community Leadership Program (WCLP) 2010

Leadership Victoria (LV) is saddened by the events that lead to the calling off of the search for missing man David Prideaux. David was a 2010 WCLP colleague and General Manager of Barwon Prison. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.

We remember David first and foremost as a devoted husband, father and dear friend.  David came to LV with a passion and commitment for innovate rehabilitation strategies in some of the toughest prisons in Victoria. He was an outstanding leader and had a genuine commitment to learning and further developing his own leadership capacity.  He was a leader amongst leaders in the 2010 WCLP and his genuine care and compassion for each and every member of group saw him be one whom others turned to in difficult times.

We understand the search for his remains will continue in the spring and we hope that he is currently resting in peace and that his body will be found.

The following message was delivered by Michael O’Leary (WCLP ’10) at David’s memorial service held on Monday 4 July on behalf of LV and the WCLP 2010 group.

Tribute to David Prideaux

The key to a successful life

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty,

to find the best in others;

to leave the world a little bit better,

whether by a healthy child,

a garden patch,

or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.


I met David in 2010 when we both took part in the year long Williamson Community Leadership Program offered by Leadership Victoria.

I’ve been asked to speak on behalf of the Williamson group and Leadership Victoria.

Williamson is a ten-month program that encourages a group of participants to reflect on leadership and on themselves as leaders.

Over those ten months the group got to know each other, and we got to know David.

My comments regarding David come from the many heartfelt reflections which those in our Williamson group were kind enough to share.

The Williamson program is dedicated to developing people who exercise positive and enduring leadership in and for the real world.

Everyone who knew David would know that he was a remarkable example of positive leadership in a very real world situation. The legacy of his leadership will endure in those organisations where he worked and in those people who he inspired.

What stood out for us during the program was that for David, being a good leader was first and foremost about being a good person. He was someone who lived his values in his professional life.

To demonstrate this I want to emphasise four personal qualities of David’s that really stood out for those in the group.

The first one was his humanity.

Asked one day how he could come home to a loving family life after spending his day looking after people who had committed awful crimes David commented:

‘People who do the job I do need to find a level of humanity in everybody. If you cannot find that connection within yourself, you cannot manage a prison, as your responsibility is to look after people, including their families, and not be their judge.’

David had compassion and believed that everyone deserved a second chance.

Where society might judge, David was non-judgemental and always saw hope. He worked to improve prisoners’ experience and quality of life, and to support their family connections.

And he made others think differently, aiming to inspire them not to pass judgement.

The second thing about David was that he was both humble and wise.

David never talked for the sake of talking. When he spoke, his words had weight. Each word was measured and had purpose.

In our group discussions, when he spoke, everyone else stopped because everyone knew that his wisdom was worth listening to.

But David was always quick to make light of himself and of others. He was wise but also grounded.

Thirdly, David possessed honesty, integrity and respect for others, no matter who they were.

One of the Williamson group observed that to be around David was to be in a safe space where you were free to seek advice, wisdom, encouragement or friendship without judgement.

Finally, David appreciated the importance of family.

Around the middle of the Williamson year, at a time when David was acting in a role away from Barwon Prison, David talked about how he was working incredibly hard and how this was impacting him and his family.

He was torn between his love for his family and his responsibility to his job, which for David probably meant his sense of responsibility to look after those he worked with and those in his care.

At the Williamson closing retreat, David was saying that he felt Williamson had given him time to take stock and realise that he had to work hard to ensure that he did not make work his life. He commented that all he wanted to be was the best husband, friend and father he could be, take time out to enjoy his hobbies, do more to bring his brothers and sisters together and see his kids shine.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

I think that is certainly true of David.

In looking back on our lives, it is not the days we remember but the precious moments.

The precious moments with our families.

The precious moments with our friends.

The precious moments with our sporting team mates and work colleagues.

David, our time together during the Williamson program was only short but it was also precious and inspiring. On behalf of the Williamson group I would like to thank you for the precious moments we shared.