Hedland teacher making a difference

8 July 2022

In 2020, South Hedland Primary School teacher James Owens was enjoying the local swimming spot, Pretty Pool, when he was called into action as an emergency unfolded.

Nobody on the shoreline noticed a father and son were in trouble when they first dropped into the water at the edge of the mangroves, the outwardly washing tidal flow leading them into danger. There were no calls for help, but the man did have the chance to raise his hand and wave, which was enough to alert James. Luckily for the teacher, another man rushed in to assist him and the pair were able to bring the father and son to safety, preventing a fatal situation from occurring. 

James was awarded a Bravery Award by Royal Life Saving WA for his heroic actions that day, and today he is continuing to give back to the community. Having kept his aquatic and first aid training up to date with Royal Life Saving, James is now focusing on supporting local Aboriginal youth, recently supporting the Hedland Talent Pool participants to gain their First Aid and Resuscitation qualifications.

Supported by our Principal Community Partner BHP, the Talent Pool program has had a significant impact on the Hedland community, with the program empowering youth to build on experience that will lead to employment opportunities.

“Our ultimate goal is to save lives and empower others to build skills and contribute to the local job market as a graduate of the Talent Pool project,” said Cameron Eglington, Royal Life Saving Talent Pool Manager.

“James gives back to his community and when Royal Life Saving is in town conducting courses under the Talent Pool banner, he gives time to help in first aid and aquatic rescue training for local students."

Back in the classroom, the Health and Physical Education teacher has created a unique communication style to help his students talk about difficult topics like drowning. Using a puppet named ‘Spelmo’, James is encouraging children to interact in a fun and engaging way, making complex issues more accessible.

To learn more about Talent Pool’s training opportunities and the impact it's having on regional communities, visit the link below. 

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