In the 1990’s when I was living in the Pilbara, many things came together for me. I involved myself in the community in the following groups: Newman Community Care Council, Newman Jobmate, East Pilbara Shire Council, the local Anglican Church and the North West Telegraph (regional newspaper – I covered the news for Newman and the East Pilbara Shire).
I worked with others to tackle a broad range of social issues in the community, including: unemployment; Indigenous homelessness; lack of facilities generally; lack of services for senior residents; limited health services (no female doctor at the time) and a range of other problems.
The town of Newman was originally set up as a company town for Mt Newman Mining (now BHP Billiton). Over time, the company withdrew some of its infrastructure and the government then took over the responsibility for these services. This led to a range of gaps in the services and it wasn’t functioning like a ‘normal’ town – eg most people left town when they left their jobs at the mine.
The idea that I came up with was to utilise some of the locally unemployed people as a casual labour force to offer services for the elderly and disabled members of the community. This led to the establishment, through Premier Carmen Lawrence, of the Pilbara Home and Community Care Service. I was the Shire’s representative on the inaugural committee for this service.
That was a very dynamic time in my life that I really enjoyed. It was a great experience to help to make things happen!