NAIDOC kicks off with a splash

9 July 2019

The 2019 NAIDOC Week celebrations kicked off with a splash in Port Hedland over the weekend! Eleven course participants blew bubbles, floated, dived, and swam their way through two days of AUSTSWIM training needed to become a first time swim teacher. The participants were a mix of local Port Hedland residents, recruited by the local aquatic centre and Royal Life Saving Pilbara Development Officer Jacqui Forbes, and a group of young people from surrounding towns taking part in our Talent Pool program.

The wave of participants came from right across the Pilbara, including Port Hedland, Newman, and Karratha, and enjoyed a lot of fun while learning about water safety and the mechanics of swimming. As part of NAIDOC the class also had the privilege of being visited by Linda Doogiebee-Dridi, co-chair of the Pilbara Aboriginal Voice, who swept everyone away with an inspiring talk about following your own truth and dreaming.

A group of AUSTSWIM course participants in the pool at Port HedlandThis talk gave buoyancy to the Royal Life Saving WA Talent Pool initiative, which champions first time employment opportunities for Indigenous youth across Western Australia. Those who attended the weekend's AUSTSWIM training will be a great asset to their local communities where qualified swim instructors are in short supply!

Hedland local Tim Turner is Royal Life Saving's Manager for Talent Pool and was one of the participants completing his AUSTSWIM qualifications! He says it was an amazing weekend with some talented young people. "To have a regional event bringing youth from across the Pilbara to become swim teachers is such an exciting development. You can never have enough swim teachers across regional WA. What a great first time job! Highly valued, respected, and well paid by any standard. It's great to see youth empowered by employment and I look forward to training the next wave of swim teachers!"

Pilbara Development Officer Jacqui Forbes says the success of the course was a testament to the team effort being  made to boost aquatic skills in the local community. "I would really like to acknowledge that this was a collaborative approach between the Town of Port Hedland and Royal Life Saving, with both organisations promoting the real need for swim instructors in Port Hedland and across the Pilbara region. We are all very thankful to AUSTSWIM presenter Di McDermott, who flew up from Perth for the weekend to take the group through their paces."

Over recent years a number of in-term and VacSwim swimming lesson programs have been cancelled across regional WA due to a lack of swim teachers to facilitate them, so we look forward to this new wave of swim instructors taking a significant role in ensuring vital swimming and water safety skills can be learnt by the children in these communities.

For more information about the great work being done by the Talent Pool program please click the link below.

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