The swimming pool was officially opened on 27th October, 2008 by Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin, Member for Stuart Karl Hampton, Thomas Jangala Rice (Chairperson), Jean Napanangka Brown (Chairperson), members of the Kantor family and the Jaru Pirrjirdi Lifeguards.
At last, the dream unfolds. Excitement is mounting in Yuendumu. The frustrations of the last 4 years are drawing to a close. The Pool Manager has been employed since May 2008, and is working overtime in preparation for the pool opening.
Six Jaru Pirrjirdi men and women have been successful in attaining their bronze medallions and lifeguard qualifications through RLSS, and are ready to start work. When the pool opens, ongoing training will ensure a large group of qualified workers to ensure the safety of all swimmers.
Dick Aitken, a landscape architect from Canberra, is working pro-bono to design and manage the massive task of landscaping the site. We are yet to secure funding for this project, but will be ready when we do!
Earlier this year, our Jaru Pirrjirdi trainees made national headlines when evicted from an Alice Springs hostel, less than 30 minutes after check-in, for being Aboriginal. They were there with RLSS and Mt Theo supervisors to continue their lifeguard training. The group were devastated, and yet determined. They told their story to the media with dignity. A complaint has been lodged with the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, and we hope to play a small part in educating the hospitality industry about the many faces of racism.
At that time, Mt Theo Program and RLSS received letters of outrage and support from all over the world. International blogs were created in support of our trainees, offers of hospitality poured in. There was a general sense of disgust and shame from the wider Australian community.
In a short time, Rob Bradley, CEO of RLSS, facilitated a remarkable response to this shameful incident. Qantas provided flights for 10 trainees to fly to Sydney for training at the Emerton Leisure Centre. Quest Apartments supplied luxurious accommodation at Castle Hill. Kieren Perkins spent time encouraging the trainees. They were treated to a Harbour Bridge Climb, a day at Taronga Park Zoo, a tour of News Limited, and time in the company of the Sydney Swans. One of our young women was even offered a part in a film! At the end of the week, all returned home with Bronze Medallions.
The Pool construction was funded by the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments, Yuendumu Community members, the Poola Foundation, the Ian Potter Foundation, Warlukurlangu Artists, Yuendumu Mining Store and the generous contributions of private donors. Statewide Pools, SA and ProBuild, Alice Springs, are building the pool and amenities block.