Roebourne lifeguard learns the ropes in Jigalong

7 February 2021
Louis Heimberger learning pool operationsA two-week stay in Jigalong has helped 16-year-old Louis Heimberger to not only build his professional skills as a pool lifeguard, but to build firm friendships in the community as well.

Jigalong, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in WA’s Pilbara region, is home to one of the earliest pools completed as part of the Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools Project. The pool is managed by Royal Life Saving WA’s Ray Martin and his partner Deb Gill who is the pool’s Program Coordinator.

Louis is a young Indigenous man from Roebourne who completed his lifeguard training through Royal Life Saving WA’s Talent Pool program. The newly minted lifeguard has now successfully completed two weeks’ paid work experience for Royal Life Saving WA at the Jigalong Pool, with Ray and Deb taking Louis under their wings to learn the day-to-day operations of running a public aquatic facility. 

Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager Community Development, Tim Turner, arranged the experience. “This is the first time Royal Life Saving WA have sponsored a newly qualified lifeguard in a remote setting,” he said. “A big thanks to Ray and Deb for their hospitality and professional mentoring of this young man during his stay in Jigalong.”

Louis Heimberger with his Jigalong matesTim also escorted Louis on the trips to Jigalong and back, making “a quick 1500km dash to pick up our newest professional lifeguard before the looming cyclone trapped us! A total of 3000km in just less than two weeks to support this outstanding young Pilbara man. On our way out we caught up with the Jigalong lads and jumped out to say our goodbyes.”

lifeguard cleaning poolTim says he is very proud of Louis’ success and what he has achieved in such a short time. “He became proficient in all technical aspects of pool operations and, as importantly, built a relationship with community. Louis stated that it was a highly valuable experience, giving him real life professional experience and life skills by living independently in a remote community.” 

Louis’ mother Tracey is also grateful for her son’s experience, saying, “I wish there were more people as committed to helping Indigenous youth as Tim Turner and Royal Life Saving WA. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Deb and Ray. Louis was so excited to go back to Jigalong after the Youth Summit in 2019, he loves the community and has a lot of friends there.”

Louis' experience was made possible thanks to funding for the Talent Pool program from Principal Community Partner BHP. Learn more about this amazing program at the link below!
Explore more button