Helping the Hedland community through COVID-19 lockdown

8 May 2020

Two women holding Royal Life Saving ducks, books and activity bagsEven though a majority of our regular swimming and water safety activities across WA have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic our Pilbara Development Officer, Jacqui Forbes, has still been busy finding ways to keep the Hedland and surrounding communities connected at this difficult time. Jacqui has helped community groups throughout Hedland and surrounds by handing out activity packs and delivering online Heart Beat Clubs.

Gemma Graham (pictured left), Coordinator of Child Care links, usually hosts weekly play group sessions at Lotteries House in South Hedland. Pre-school children and parents would congregate play, sing, read stories and have afternoon tea. During the COVID-19 lockdown Gemma realised that parents would appreciate additional resources they would normally get from the Library or at the group, so Jacqui assisted her with some water safety resources and Keep Watch merchandise. These special packs have been dropped off to 10 families per week.

Gemma will be going on maternity leaving over the next few weeks so Royal Life Saving's Pilbara team wishes her her all the best for her upcoming motherhood adventure!

Royal Life Saving WA has also partnered with West Pilbara Mobile Children's Service to collaboratively put together activity packs, which included water safety activities, for the children who normally attend their weekly play group.

West Pilbara Mobile Children’s Service Supervisor, Trudy Gear (pictured above), says she’s extremely thankful for the help the Royal Life Saving team has provided. “With the WA travel restrictions and the closure of all our remote communities WPMCS has had to find a new way to reach out and support our families with learning experiences. School staff have been allowed one visit to town per week and have been collecting the activity packs for our 0-5 year old children who would normally attend our weekly play groups. We know these packs will be greeted with excitement and put to good use. We thank Royal Life Saving WA for the very generous donations towards the activity packs for our remote indigenous communities.”

WPMCS is also looking forward to getting back to normal and delivering the Heart Beat Club and other Royal Life Saving courses to Pilbara communities, which are planned for later in the year.Royal Life Saving's Jacqui Forbes demonstrating infant CPR on a baby manikin

Jacqui Forbes has also been busy providing vital first aid and CPR education through a partnership with the Well Women's Centre South Hedland, delivering an online Heart Beat Club course for parents.

The Well Women’s Centre’s Adjusting to Parenthood group was provided with the online Water Safety Talk and Heart Beat Club session via Zoom. Justine Esmonde from the Well Women’s Centre wanted to ensure these new mums could still have some kind of community connection even while they were locked down in their homes, so she set up a Facebook group where everyone could meet at then conducted a Friday morning Zoom meeting for some interaction via video. Jacqui was invited to this meeting to present Royal Life Saving’s Heart Beat Club course for these new parents.

Jacqui Forbes presenting a Heart Beat Club session on ZoomJacqui says the session was very much appreciated by those who took part, with the group very chatty and asking lots of questions. "It was a real eye opener for me to hear about the challenging time these new mums where experiencing. Hearing stories of Grandparents and close relatives unable to travel, visit or even help, and only getting to meet the new addition to the family via Facebook and Zoom. They really were alone - all those friends calling over and holding the new baby was not able to happen, and with partners working away on mine sites or 12-night shifts home was becoming very isolated.”

Another Heart Beat Club session is scheduled for mid-June.

Royal Life Saving WA is pleased to be able to assist the Hedland community and surrounding areas as we all work together to get through these very different and somewhat difficult times. We are thankful to our Principal Community Partner BHP and the Town of Port Hedland for their ongoing support in the Pilbara.