Official opening for Balgo Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool

25 February 2020

The remote Aboriginal swimming pool in the Kimberley community of Balgo has been officially opened today at a ceremony attended by Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer and Royal Life Saving WA General Manager Community Relations Greg Tate.

The pool is part of a 2017 election commitment of $15.53 million to construct and provide operational funding for two pools in the Kimberley, at Balgo and Kalumburu. Both projects have seen the construction of a 25 metre six-lane pool, a toddler pool, ablution buildings, a home for the swimming pool manager and landscaping work. They also include beach entry for people with disability.

Swimming pools provide a range of benefits for communities like Balgo and Kalumburu including improved health, education and social outcomes as well as training and employment opportunities. During its construction phase the Balgo pool provided regional and remote employment opportunities for 17 Aboriginal workers, including eight apprentices, and since its completion has attracted 3,500 recreational visits each month.

Work commenced on the Balgo pool and facilities in September 2018 and the project was completed on March 29, 2019 at a cost of $7 million. Site works for the Kalumburu pool started in May 2019 and concluded in December 2019 at a total cost of $6.6 million.

The two new pools are the seventh and eighth to be built by the Department of Communities in regional WA. Royal Life Saving WA provides swimming pool managers who live in the communities to manage and maintain the swimming pools. They also deliver programs such as swimming lessons, swimming carnivals, lifesaving training and other community activities.

Royal Life Saving WA General Manager Community Relations, Greg Tate, says it’s been pleasing to see the way local community members have welcomed the pool and its staff. “Royal Life Saving has had enormous support since becoming part of the Balgo community over the last 12 months. It has been especially pleasing to note the community's commitment to water safety and assisting us in enforcing the pool rules allowing everyone to use and enjoy this amazing facility safely. Pool Managers Graeme Pollett and Bronwyn Ray have made Balgo their home. They work long hours to maintain this incredible facility and organise and deliver numerous programs to keep it activated. These programs have provided health, social and educational benefits for all community members."

Drowning statistics show that Aboriginal children aged 0-18 are 8.6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal drowning incident than non-Aboriginal children, so the availability of swimming and water safety education to children in communities like Balgo and Kalumburu is vital.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley says it’s pleasing to see the benefits of the pool being recognised in the communities already. "The local school has also observed an improvement in the health and wellness of children, and importantly, the pools provide a great incentive to get kids to attend school and encourage good behaviour. Students from the local school visit the pool four days a week, with numbers ranging from 30 to 60 children. I was particularly impressed to hear that school attendance has almost tripled since the pool opened.”

Royal Life Saving WA is pleased to be working with the Department of Communities on this incredibly important and successful program, and looks forward to seeing the many health, education and employment opportunities that flow through the local communities from the pool.

You can read more about the Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool Project at the link below.

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