Tim Turner is a Hedland local councillor, an accomplished Taekwondo instructor and the founder of Talent Pool, an innovative Royal Life Saving WA training program that provides a springboard for Aboriginal young people to find employment in the aquatics industry.
Talent Pool was started in Hedland around 15 years ago and has grown now into a State-wide initiative.
“We started out saying, ‘wouldn’t it be great to have three Aboriginal lifeguards' — and by the end of the first season we had 13,” Tim remembers.
Over the past 12 months the program has helped 60 young people find first time jobs, 50 of them in Hedland, generating benefit for local businesses too.
Tim began his career in child protection, but that work has evolved into a focus on community development. In his 15 years living in Hedland he has held in roles with the YMCA, the Department of Communities, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and has spent time in Nauru working with refugees through Save the Children.
“My roles have all had a focus on youth,” he said. “For me, it’s about working holistically to create a safe community for all children, and a future for young people that’s free from violence.”
Tim said Talent Pool sought to seed aspiration at a young age.
“The program develops the strengths and aspirations of young people, and that success builds on itself,” he said.
“We start with First Aid training, and that progresses to the Bronze Medallion, and each step builds on the other. What’s exciting this year is that those young people that have gone through the program are now, for the first time, becoming mentors to the junior lifeguards.”
A sister program, the Commando Rescue Club delivered in partnership with the Polly Farmer Foundation, is modelled on Royal Lifesaving’s Junior Lifeguard Program but with an Indigenous overlay.
“It’s delivered in a fun way, but it entails serious learning,” Tim said.
“At the start of the program the majority of the young people that joined couldn’t swim. 12 weeks later most of the participants can swim 200 metres. We mix rescue techniques in with water play, so the program has a real-life application.”
“It’s about sustainability and building a future workforce,” he said.
In addition to his role as Regional Development Manager at Royal Lifesaving, Tim was elected to the Town of Port Hedland council in October 2020.
“Being on council, you can influence what happens across community and make a difference in that space,” he said.
“I’ve been pushing for a youth focus, through things like a youth strategy and initiatives toward youth employment.”
Tim is also a third Dan Taekwondo Black Belt and a two-time National Champion for self-defence. His wife Relma is a fourth Dan and the couple’s three children are all Black Belts.
With the remainder of their time, Tim and Relma run Hedland Taekwondo Club, facilitating classes for 150 local students three to four times a week.
Thank you, Tim for your immense contribution to the Hedland community and its youth.