Women on the frontline in Hopetoun
They may be the only St John WA sub centre crewed entirely of women, but volunteers at a regional outpost known for its rugged beauty and harsh coastline don’t think that makes them any different to any other branch.
“A lot of the men down here are on the mines and are away from town a lot,” Hopetoun’s Karina Bray said.
“I mean, the women work, too, but we’re mostly closer to home.
“It’s just turned out that we are all women.”
While the odd male volunteer has come and gone from the Hopetoun sub centre, the community’s emergency medical and transport needs have largely been met by this dedicated team of women, who are not only trained to deal with people experiencing the worst day of their lives, but who have also forged tight-knit friendships among themselves.
They get together regularly for sub centre meetings, or just to catch up with each other, and when they do, there is plenty of chat and laughter.
It’s the easy camaraderie that often goes hand-in-hand with life in a small town.
They babysit each other’s children, they nurse each other’s loved ones.
Some of the older members have even taught the younger ones in their school days.
“We all get along,” Emergency Medical Assistant Ekua Abaka said.
“I joined up when I moved here, hoping to meet new people in a new town and to give back to the community.
“I find it very rewarding.”
The St John WA model of engaging career paramedics and volunteers allows the organisation to deliver the highest quality of pre-hospital care across even the most remote parts of Western Australia. Hopetoun is one of more than 140 locations are supported entirely by volunteers with support of a Community Paramedic. The model means WA has more emergency ambulance locations per head capita than anywhere on mainland Australia.
At a tick over six hours away from Perth, there’s no question Hopetoun is remote, but the dedication of the town’s St John volunteers shows service to humanity knows no bounds, and the service these women provide to their community through their expertise and team spirit is invaluable.
They may not think they’re doing anything special as a group of women, but the Hopetoun team continue to inspire the wider community, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.