Talent Pool increases opportunities for Aboriginal youth in the Pilbara

27 May 2021

As we celebrate National Reconciliation Week, Royal Life Saving WA is extremely proud of the work our Talent Pool program is doing to engage Aboriginal youth in regional areas of Western Australia. Talent Pool is an innovative training and employment program that provides a springboard for Aboriginal young people wanting to take action and achieve employment in the aquatics industry.
Recently a number of programs have been underway in the Pilbara region, enabling dozens of young people to learn vital skills that could lead to employment opportunities.

One of these programs saw a Royal Life Saving WA trainer visit Newman to deliver a Provide First Aid course to Newman Senior High School’s Year 11 outdoor education class. 13 students rehearsed a range of scenario’s they might encounter across the outback in the Pilbara, learning emergency responses they might need to put into practice from choking and broken bones through to puncture wounds. The students also managed to complete their CPR qualifications.

Pidavara Bule-Turner with Caeleen Bartlett from Onslow Senior High SchoolRoyal Life Saving WA has recently agreed to work with Newman Senior High School to also qualify all Year 10 students by week 11 of Term Two, which will see another 50 students complete their Provide First Aid course. Once the weather warms up and the local pool re-opens students will prepare to take on the challenge of completing their Bronze Medallion. Those most interested will also be supported to complete their pool lifeguard qualification.

Newman Senior High School Principal Carolyn Cook and Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager for Community Development, Tim Turner, are excited that this opportunity has been provided for local students thanks to funding from Principal Community Partner BHP. The pair have been working together on ideas to generate first time jobs in the aquatics industry for students over the past five years, so seeing these plans now come to fruition is very pleasing.

It is hoped that those students completing their First Aid now and aquatics qualifications in terms 3 & 4 will become eligible to apply for available positions in Newman and Marble Bar when the pools reopen for the summer season of 2022.

A similar program is also underway in Onslow, where Royal Life Saving WA’s Workforce Coordinator Pidavara Bule-Turner, enrolled 11 students over a three-day visit, working alongside Caeleen Bartlett, the Aboriginal Engagement Officer for Onslow High School. These students will complete their Provide First Aid and Bronze Medallion qualifications over the coming weeks.Tim Turner with Andy Price from Onslow Aquatic Centre

Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager for Community Development, Tim Turner, also visited Onslow at the same time and met with local pool manager, Andy Price, who expressed his support for any initiative that would assist the small regional town to secure qualified staff for the upcoming season in 2021-2022. It’s exciting to see Talent Pool become an important program for regional centres, assisting in the recruitment and retention of qualified aquatic staff.

The Talent Pool program has been active in Port Hedland for a couple of years and it was recently great to see some Talent Pool graduates sharing their skills with Aboriginal children at the South Hedland Aquatic Centre, taking part in the Commando Rescue Club, a Junior Lifeguard Club program run in collaboration with the Polly Farmer Foundation and sponsored by BHP.

Jay Arriagada teaching Commando Club members in Port HedlandTalent Pool staff and lifeguards - Jinnali BinnSaad and Jay Arriagada - shared their rescue and lifesaving skills with students in school grades 4-6, as they took part in the fun-filled Commando Rescue education enrichment program, which is provided for Indigenous students by Polly Farmer Foundation at three schools across Port Hedland. Pilbara Development Officer, Lauren Thompson, said it was a great opportunity for these Talent Pool graduates to expand their industry skills and explore community training and presenting as possible future employment pathways.

Lauren says it was an inspirational time, especially for the girls amongst the group. “Jinnali is exceptionally talented and an advocate for young indigenous women to engage and pursue industry knowledge and skills for aquatics, sports and recreation. Jinnali continues to encourage and promote young women to pursue careers in these fields and to gain professional qualifications.”

We’re extremely pleased to see the success of Talent Pool across the Pilbara region, as it encourages and inspires Aboriginal youth to pursue aquatic qualifications that not only provide fulfilling employment opportunities, but also save lives!