Locals dive in to save lives

Danielle RaffaeleNorth West Telegraph
Mayor Peter Carter with some of the new local swim instructor recruits
Camera IconMayor Peter Carter with some of the new local swim instructor recruits

Eighteen locals are diving head-first into Royal Life Saving swim instructor roles to share vital skills with youngsters ahead of their summer fun in Hedland.

It follows concerns of a chronic lack of qualified swim teachers in the region and a long and tiring search by Pilbara’s RLSWA branch that involved contacting local schools, community grounds, and shopping centres for support.

The recruits joined RLSWA Pilbara Talent Pool program manager and local councillor Tim Turner and Pilbara regional development officer Lauren Thompson for training last weekend.

The swim instructors will complete their course free of charge, with learning facilitated by Perth-based community trainer Jeanette Hooper.

Young Hedland residents also rallied for training on Saturday to learn how to keep watch over the water as lifeguards this summer season.

In late September, RLSS WA issued an urgent call-out for teachers stating the Education Department was “struggling” to staff its programs across the State’s south.

And it is a similar story up north, with a significant lack of swimming teachers in the regions despite statistics showing rural residents are 3.7 times more likely to drown than their metropolitan counterparts.

Mr Turner said he was excited to welcome the new recruits and bolster opportunities for work and young families.

“This is the first time that we’ve had such big numbers,” he said. “Royal Life has really driven recruitment hard so that the community can lift the number of swim teachers and really create the opportunity for the wider public.”

“We’ve got a wave of swim teachers and it creates another wave of opportunity. When you come to live in Towns like Port Hedland, they want to be confident that they can access similar services or like services that they get in Perth.”

Town of Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter, who met the new recruits last Saturday, said it marked greater opportunities for families to enjoy some fun in the sun during the holidays.

“Having more lifesavers and more swim teachers here is fantastic,” he said.

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