Jobs Events Advertise

Plans to reopen Roper River community pools will benefit child health

Rhiannon Clarke -

In the Roper River community of Ngukurr the local council-run pool which has been closed for almost a year is set to reopen soon.

Children have been forced to swim in crocodile-infested rivers, a major safety concern, in the absence of the pool.

Yugul Mangi Aboriginal Corporation's youth officer Gene Daniels has partnered with a new organisation to reopen the pools in some of the Northern Territory's hottest communities.

While makeshift slip and slides and water balloon fights have provided some relief, they are not a substitute for a proper swimming pool.

Gary Hogan and his friends have found the slip and slide to be a great relief, but Ngukurr resident Kerryanne Thompson is worried about the safety of children who are swimming in the Roper River.

The Roper Gulf Regional Council Mayor Tony Jack has said the council had to close the pools due to maintenance issues and a shortage of certified lifeguards.

"It came to maintenance issues and the big thing for us was lifeguards, that's the risk in the running of pools for any council," Mr Jack told the ABC.

"You've got to have certified lifeguards making it safe, because you don't want anybody, especially a child, drowning.

"So this was the challenge for us, meaning we had to stall on the pools while we looked at other arrangements."

Following the tragic incident of a child drowning in Kintore pool, located west of Alice Springs, three years ago, a total of five remote pools out of the 18 in the Northern Territory have been closed due to safety and maintenance concerns.

The closures have affected the pools in Yuendumu and Wadeye, as well as the community water parks in Minyerri and Lajamanu.

In response to these closures, Roper Gulf and other local governments have collaborated with the YMCA to enlist the expertise of their qualified lifeguards in order to work towards reopening the pools.

Community members in Ngukurr organised a slip and slide as an alternative to the pool.

(Image: ABC Jane Bardon news)

In the wake of a devastating incident where a child drowned in Kintore pool, situated west of Alice Springs, three years ago, concerns regarding safety and maintenance have led to the closure of five out of the 18 remote pools in the Northern Territory.

"We've created a model whereby we are employing and training local staff and then supporting local staff with volunteers," YMCA NT chief executive Matt Feutrill said.

Local councils in numerous remote areas of Australia have faced difficulties in hiring an adequate number of lifeguards.

Staff members of the YMCA from various branches are eager to offer their time as volunteers in remote communities in the Northern Territory for a duration of one year.

"The YMCA has a network of aquatic facilities throughout Australia, with 220 pools, and we're recruiting from that network," he said.

"So they come and work for six months to a year with us, and accommodation and food expenses are provided, but people give their own time, their own commitment, to giving back to community."

He said getting remote Indigenous community pools reopened was particularly important.

"Aboriginal children are two and a half times more likely to drown than non-Aboriginal children so the development of water safety skills is very important," he said.

"Another great thing about operating pools in remote communities — where it is very hot — is that there is an incentive-based around the pool to increase school attendance.

"So it's, 'yes you went to school that day, yes you can come to the pool'."

The Ngukurr community pool was closed for almost a year.(Image: Michael Franchi ABC news)

In addition to its ability to control skin infections like scabies, eye infections, trachoma, and ear infections, Mr Feutrill highlighted that chlorinated water offers other health benefits.

"All of those conditions early in life lead to chronic problems late in life including kidney and heart failure, loss of sight and loss of hearing," he said.

"The pool in Kintore hasn't yet reopened, the community is still grieving, but I am in contact with the health clinic there and the rate of infection for children has skyrocketed since the pool closure.

"So that community really needs to have that pool reopened."

The YMCA is working towards a plan to reopen Wadeye's pool, and it has now been able to reopen the Borroloola and Ngukurr pools.

Mr Jack said local kids were excited by the reopening and students would again start travelling to use the pools from schools in surrounding areas.

"All the communities around, like Minyerri, Hodson Downs and Urapungu schools will be able to use the pool at Ngukurr, and with Borroloola, the Robinson River school kids will be able to use that one too, so hopefully we'll get really good health outcomes right across the region," he said.

   Related   

Directions hearings continue ahead of inquest into 2021 death in custody of young mum
The latest directions hearings concerning a 30-year-old Yamatji, Noongar, Wongi and Pitjantjatjara woman who died in custody at...
Jarred Cross 23 Feb 2024
In a heartbeat: smart watches helping to close the gap
When Aunty Mary Waites joined a research trial aimed at helping to reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease in Abori...
Rudi Maxwell 23 Feb 2024
Groote Eylandt residents call for land council probe
Hundreds on a remote Northern Territory Island have called on the federal government to investigate "potential gross misconduct"...
Neve Brissenden 23 Feb 2024
Nominations open for the 2024 Queensland Reconciliation Awards
Businesses, community groups, schools, sporting clubs, and cultural organisations are invited to submit nominations for the 2024...
Joseph Guenzler 23 Feb 2024

   Rhiannon Clarke   

Thomas Weatherall’s play “Blue” explores the complexities of coming-of-age
The captivating play “Blue” delves into the complexities of a coming-of-age narrative, exploring themes of family dynamics, masc...
Rhiannon Clarke 20 Feb 2024
Children's book “Kaal Tackles Eczema” aims to help families manage skin condition
Eczema affects a significant number of Aboriginal children residing in urban regions, with nearly 20 per cent being affected by...
Rhiannon Clarke 20 Feb 2024
Northern Territory grants open doors for artists
Grants are currently being offered in the Northern Territory to fund the purchase, transportation, and installation of equipment...
Rhiannon Clarke 19 Feb 2024
Troy Cassar-Daley drops new album Between the Fires and tour dates
Accomplished musician and Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man, Troy Cassar-Daley, has dedicated more than thirty years to his career, up...
Rhiannon Clarke 19 Feb 2024