Amata is one of a handful of APY communities that have a swimming pool. But pools are inherently challenging in the APY – hard to staff, hard to manage. When I was living in Amata, I spent a couple of weeks hanging out at the pool because I was the only person with relevant medical training and a DCSI clearance that was available.. The pool manager, was quirky; but efficient, and I largely got on well with him despite some angst between him and the school staff. The pool is open only during terms 1 and 4 and closed for the winter – and the job of the pool manager is a contract for that term.
Currently, Amata Anangu community is the only community on the APY lands whose swimming pool is closed. No big deal right? Wrong. Unfortunately when the pool is closed the Anangu kids find more innovative ways to keep cool in the scorching heat of Central Australia – but their creativity is laden with risk. Kids will try and swim in the town water tanks, which compromises the health of the water supply and is quite dangerous – the tanks are elevated and the risk of drowning is much higher here than in a supervised pool. They swim in the water-treatment storage ponds that are colloquially known as the “kuna ponds” – which translates to the shit ponds – they are literally swimming in shit. This is why I was happy to help – the thought of kids becoming unwell or dying because they couldn’t access the pool was too much.
The job for the pool manager has been advertised twice now, and the pool has remained closed because presumably there was a lack of suitable applicants. This is despite the previous pool manager and the manager before him expressing their interest in the role and being turned away. This is complicated by the fact that the Deputry Prinicpalis living in the “pool house” – hence a lack of housing is another barrier to the pool being opened. However the Department of Premeier and Cabinet have a house that has been previously accessed and “leased” to the department of education.
The pools continued closure may seem like a trivial issue, but for every day that it remains closed – kids are being put at risk. Come on DECD – act on this immediately.