St John SA Commercial Training team partnered with the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme (AACAP) last week, Monday 18th to Wednesday 20th June to deliver First Aid training to the remote Aboriginal Community of Yalata.
Yalata is an Aboriginal community located on the far west coast of South Australia, 200kms west of Ceduna with a population of 248.
Yalata welcomed 150 soldiers from AACAP to their country. The soldiers are based in a camp nearby Yalata and will spend the next four to five months constructing a new staff house, upgrading the road to the local airstrip and upgrading the caravan park. Also included in the Yalata AACAP project is the building of a new multi-purpose Parent and Children Centre and a covered meeting area.
What is AACAP?
The Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program (AACAP) is a co-operative initiative between the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) and Army to improve environmental health conditions within remote Aboriginal communities.
The Three-Day Adventure
Shauna Tumbers, Commercial Trainer and myself (Bec Lee, Commercial Trainer Coordinator) arrived at the Yalata AACAP camp after a two-day drive from Unley on Sunday 17th June. We were welcomed by members of the Health Care team including LT Corey Jeffery and completed a site induction and were welcomed to our Army home for the next few days.
As you will see by the pictures included in this recount, Shauna and I had to adapt to the challenges of living on an Army camp, while still keeping the bigger picture in mind. Serving the Aboriginal community in the classroom was our goal and this supported us to keep focused during the challenges of minus five degree mornings, two minute showers, sleeping on stretchers inside bug tents and being constantly on the lookout for spiders, scorpions, mice and snakes, and lining up for breakfast and dinner just like the M.A.S.H series that was on TV when I was a child.
Day 1: On Monday 18th June we woke up from our stretchers and bug tents to a minus five degree morning. Once our fingers defrosted we made the five kilometre trek back into the Yalata community to set up the training room at the local community centre to deliver a Provide First Aid course to participants.
After a late start we were blessed to have 19 participants enrol into the First Aid course. Participants included a diverse range of ages including a combination of local young Aboriginal people and local Aboriginal men who worked for the local council.
Shauna provided a learning environment that was supportive, encouraging, nurturing and fun. Shauna also adapted her delivery style to meet the learning needs of the participants, which contributed to 19 participants gaining the CPR qualification and 17 participants gaining the Provide Basic Emergency Life Support qualification. I can’t begin to tell you just how proud I am of Shauna and St John SA. I know during the day Shauna was challenged, but despite this she remained professional, provided care and nurture to her participants and kept the goal alive of supporting the Aboriginal community to gain vital First Aid qualifications.
Day 2: Shauna delivered the Provide Emergency First Aid in an Education and Care Setting (PEFAEC) course to five local educators from the Yalata school. All five teachers were successful in gaining the PEFAEC qualification and will be better equipped to deliver First Aid to local Aboriginal students from the school.
Day 3: Shauna and I were able to provide much needed donations from St John SA to the Tullawon Health Centre, which included workplace First Aid kits, blankets, children’s socks and singlets and towels. The health staff who accepted the donations were firstly surprised and then very thankful that St John SA were able to provide such donations to the community. The donations will be provided to those families who need them most.
I feel very privileged to have been part of this experience with Shauna, and to have delivered such a rare opportunity to the local community, as I am aware that St John SA was the only First Aid provider willing to make the trek out to Yalata.
The Yalata community faces many challenges including poverty, lack of employment, poor housing, health conditions and trauma-related challenges relating to the Stolen Generation and a general lack of everyday opportunities that we, living in Adelaide, are privileged with. By St John SA taking on this challenge and Shauna stepping out of her comfort zone and accepting the opportunity as one of new learnings and development for her as a Commercial trainer, we as one St John were able to make a positive impact to the local Aboriginal community of Yalata.
Lastly, a special thank you to the following staff who provided support and care to Shauna and I before and during the trip: Adrian Hunt, Julie Tsaconas, Kier Pitt and Skender Yashari.
Bec Lee Commercial Training Coordinator