Remote pools welcome two new managers

31 August 2017

With spring officially starting tomorrow, Royal Life Saving Society WA’s remote aboriginal swimming pools are due to open for another season! Two of the 6 pools have brand new managers this year, so it’s going to be a very exciting time with new relationships developing and fresh new ideas coming into these communities.

Mel Warren, is taking on the role as the manager of the Burringurrah Pool. Burringurrah is a remote community 480km east of Carnarvon, and 300 km from Meekatharra, and is one of the smaller communities with a population ranging from 150 to 200 people.

Mel began her journey in aquatics back in 2002, as a swimming teacher, and since then she’s worked her way through swim school coordinating, managing, pool operations, presenting and training over the last 15 years.

Mel says when the opportunity to manage a Royal Life Saving Society remote pool became available she jumped at the chance. “I’ve stayed in the industry because I love working with kids and all the different people you get to meet. I spent the last 6 months working remote and really enjoyed it and I wanted to get back out there again. I’m currently completing my Certificate IV in Youth Work so working out in a remote community also works quite nicely to help towards that.”

When it comes to working in a remote community Mel is realistic about the fact that there will be some hurdles to overcome. “The biggest challenge will be that the nearest Coles will be hundreds of kilometres away!! I guess just the general isolation too, it can be quite difficult to be out there and you have to be prepared to be on your own a lot which can get to you a bit. But I’m most looking forward to meeting the people and getting to know the lay of the land out there. They’ve got so many stories to tell and so much information to share that I just can’t wait to find out more.”

With aboriginal children drowning at a rate two and a half times higher than non-aboriginal children, the remote pools play a vital role in improving water safety, but Mel is also aware that there’s much more to it than that. “Remote pools are really important in helping with the kid’s education, health benefits, socialization, and the kids out there suffer quite a lot from depression due to their family issues and things, so having somewhere to go and something to do is a really pivotal thing for the community to have. I’m really looking forward to playing a role in that environment.”

For Mel her new role is about building positive futures for children and young people in the Burringurrah community. “I’d like to have lots of engagement, particularly getting the youth 13-25 involved. It’s quite easy to get the young kids to join the programs, but if you can some of the older kids taking part that would be great. I’d also like to try and get some of those older kids interested in a role in the industry so eventually I don’t have to go out there and they can run the pool themselves!”

The other pool with a new manager coming on board is Jigalong, an Aboriginal community located 170km east of Newman on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The population fluctuates from 100-500 depending on the time of year.

David Lucas is taking on the role as Manager of the Jigalong Pool, and brings some great experience to the role. “I’ve previously managed a couple of remote swimming pools, I was a competitive marathon swimmer when I was younger and have also been involved in water polo. In the past five years I’ve been living in the Northern Territory, and over that time I managed a pool at Jabaroo / Kakadu. Most recently I’ve been working at a place called Ngukurr, which is about 300kms east of Katherine in Arnhem Land, managing facilities out there for about 6 months.”

For David managing a remote pool is a life-long dream, and he’s really looking forward to this new challenge. “It’s been on my bucket list since I was very young, and I’m excited to be achieving that now. I’m most looking forward to meeting new people in the community, being able to achieve some kind of success working with indigenous people, especially working with the kids. I want to be able to see kids learning how to swim as it’s such an important skill.”

Like Mel, David is realistic about the challenges that face him in his new role. “My biggest challenge will be getting on with the community and earning their respect as a new person moving to town. I’m keen to build some good relationships because the remote pools are a very important recreational facility for indigenous children as they don’t have a lot to do out in these communities. I think it’s hugely important that remote communities have swimming pools and I’m proud to be able to play a part.”

Both Mel and David completed training at Royal Life Saving headquarters in Mount Claremont last week, before making the long journey to their new homes! We look forward to hearing from them throughout the coming season, as they work in these communities and provide opportunities for children, youth and adults to learn vital, swimming, water safety and health skills, and have fun. We wish Mel and David all the best as they settle into their new roles!

Read more about our remote pools at the link below.

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