Russell Miles came to the Pilbara to do something different. And it wasn’t to work in the mines.
The father of three has moved from Melbourne to Hedland to work with Frontier Services as the Area Coordinator for its Respite Services in the Pilbara. His new role will involve training and supporting an expanding team of Frontier Services staff who provide respite to carers in South Hedland, Roebourne, Karratha and mobile teams who travel across the region.
Having arrived less than a month ago, Mr Miles is quickly learning about life in the Pilbara.
“Coming from much cooler Melbourne it was fortunate that I arrived in the evening,” he said. “My first impression was that the rich red earth looked just like I had seen in post cards. My second impression on walking outside the Port Hedland Airport was ‘I’m already draped in sweat and I am standing still!’”
Mr Miles has an extensive background in community services and is looking forward to the new role.
“I like training new workers and seeing people develop skills, kick goals and achieve things for themselves. I’m looking forward to the challenge of doing such things is this part of Australia.”
The focus for the Frontier Services respite services is to support family members caring for people with mental ill-health, intellectual disabilities or frail health so that these people can continue to remain in their own homes and communities.
“This service is the same as in cities or urban areas, but the difference for Frontier Services is its commitment to ensure services are available in some of the most rugged and remote locations of Australia,” Mr Miles said.
“The two mobile teams roam as far afield as Cotton Creek, over 10 hours’ drive into the Western Desert including tracks only suited to four-wheel-drive, along the Northern Highway to Onslow and down south to Tom Price, and many tiny communities in between.”
“Another part of the respite services is the Roebourne Community Wellness Centre, which provides respite services around the towns of Roebourne and Karratha. This service is currently expanding and we are looking to engage additional casual support staff. And with the very experienced Wellness Centre Coordinator Judy Kay leaving the program, this position will also need to be filled. Additional casual staff are also needed in South Hedland.”
Mr Miles received another lesson on life in the Pilbara when he attended the 2012 Peacock Masquerade Annual Ball for the BloodTree Association.
“I wore a collared shirt, but denim jeans, only to be encountered by women dressed in stunning ball gowns and the men in smart suits and bow ties. I certainly felt a tad under-dressed. One local explained that as there are few occasions to dress up, people make the most of any opportunity. This seems to illustrate the Pilbara – folk are friendly, adventurous and always expect the unexpected.”
The respite services are funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and the Department of Health and Aging (DoHA).