Bernie Egan

Bidyadanga Pool Manager, Bernie Egan, stands with indigenous employees, Rita, by the pool.

Bernie Egan (left) with local Indigenous woman Rita

Bidyadanga Remote Pool Manager

Bernie Egan has been a Remote Pool Manager with Royal Life Saving Society WA since 2009 and currently manages the Bidyadanga pool on the remote Kimberley coast. Bidyadanga is the largest remote Aboriginal community in WA with about 750 residents.

Bernie says the pool is definitely a focal point for the locals; “I think a lot of the kids don’t have anywhere to go after school so it becomes a bit of a hub for the local community to have somewhere to go that’s safe and clean. I like to refer to the pool as a ‘G’ rated environment so there’s no swearing, no fighting; for the kids it’s just a really good place to hang out.”

The pool provides significant health and social benefits for the community as a whole, but for Bernie it’s the individual impacts she’s seen that are the highlight;

“Getting that kid who’s scared of the water and a non-swimmer, and actually seeing them progress through to being comfortable in the water, able to swim unaided across the pool and having that freedom to move around as they please. This comes through swimming lessons and simply hanging out with them in the pool.”

For Bernie the future is in having locals take more of a role in running the pool. This is already beginning at Bidyadanga with an indigenous woman called Rita becoming a great asset there. “Rita helped out with a survey at the pool, greeting people at the gate and pretty much taking role on attendance. We're really looking at her becoming our pivotal point in promoting the Watch Around Water program here at the swimming pool, and increasing the supervision of the under-fives by the parents or guardians. With an indigenous person administering that program we're hoping it's going to be better received by the people using the swimming pool and hopefully increase the enjoyment and safety of our pool users as well."

Bernie already has her eye on a few more locals who can be trained up to play an important role;

"In recent years we've had high school students asked about the possibility of work experience at the swimming pool, so we've talked to the school about getting one or two kids to come over and maybe do some work experience. Who knows where that may lead? There's the possibility of them furthering on and becoming a swim teacher or a lifeguard."

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