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First Nations lifeguards make a splash in Woorabinda

[by Rhianna King]


Image: supplied

Woorabinda locals Michael, Gerald and Rex have dived headfirst into their new roles as lifeguards, supported by Community Spirit Foundation and UNICEF Australia.

The trio completed their Bronze Medallion training and have been employed by the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, which operates the local pool.

Michael has always enjoyed swimming and has spent many warm days at the Woorabinda pool.

“Growing up, I always went to the swimming pool; it’s where families come on hot days,” he said.

The newly-appointed lifeguards were supported by Community Spirit Foundation’s Sprints Passport program to apply for the positions and acquire necessary identification, working with children checks and bank accounts. They are three of 80 young people who have taken part in the program.

“The Community Spirit Foundation team helped me to get the IDs I needed, which took a few months to get sorted. Without them, it would have been much harder,” Michael said.

Community Spirit Foundation CEO Jade Colgan said the program, which was delivered in Woorabinda in partnership with UNICEF Australia, equipped First Nations young people with key skills, confidence and tools they need to transition into a journey of their choosing after school.

“Employment opportunities in remote communities can be limited, and First Nations young people often face barriers to entering the workforce,” Ms Colgan said.

“This is a terrific example of when local organisations come together to support local young people to set goals, and work to achieve them.”

Sprints Passport Program Coordinator Samana Sukaserm lives in Woorabinda and has worked to gain the trust of young people taking part in the program, who previously lacked confidence.

“They know our support is never going to stop and we see them become more confident in themselves and their future,” Ms Sukaserm said.

Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council Community Service Coordinator Ivy Yoren said when young people in remote areas achieved their goals, it had a ripple effect throughout the whole community.

“When Michael, Rex and Thomas went to collect their lifeguard uniforms and equipment there were community members standing nearby who cheered them on,” Ms Yoren said.

“They are good leaders, who other young people look up to.”

As employees of the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, the trio will have the opportunity to experience different council roles when the pool is closed during the cooler months.


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