This year has been a bit different in how we have organised our trips to the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. With the aim to visit service providers, schools and clients in both regions in the same calendar year. This year has been a mix of flying, driving and towing equipment up and around the north of WA.
June saw me flying up to the Kimberley with several suitcases of excess baggage, none of which held clothes! The suitcases included a range of equipment for trial including alternative cutlery, meal preparation boards, shower aids, literacy support technology, alternative seating equipment, telephones and emergency alarms. There was a lot of interest generated by the different literacy and education support technology and apps. In particular the LiveScribe Smart Pen with its ability to record audio and link it to your written notes for play back at a later time was coveted by numerous health professionals for use in their meetings.
Flying across the Kimberley and driving to the towns allowed me more time to spend with clients and their support networks on the day. This trip didn’t have any “set up” days, rather I would meet with organisations to arrange a time to meet their clients and go through equipment that they were interested in seeing. I really enjoyed hearing people’s backgrounds and how they felt equipment could play a role in their lives. It felt more personal meeting people in an environment they knew and discussing options on independence with them there than setting up at a location in the middle of town and waiting for them to come to me.
Two highlights from the Kimberley trip for me were working with the students and staff at South Hedland SHS and Cassia Primary in their classes. It was great to be able to spend time with such dedicated and supportive staff who were open to embraceing different technologies to support learning in the classroom. The second was my visit with the members of the Wyndham HACC Centre. They turned the visit into a lunch time gathering and seemed to really enjoy the discussion on equipment as well as the generous food on offer. Overall it was a great two weeks spent visiting five towns and 18 service providers as well as many individual clients and family members. I look forward to being able to visit again next year and possibly bringing larger equipment for trial.
September is a beautiful time to travel in the Pilbara with plenty of greenery, sunshine and wildflowers on show. During our two weeks in the Pilbara region we visited Newman, Jigalong Community, Tom Price and Karratha. Driving up with the trailer allowed us to bring up large equipment for demonstration as well as equipment to be donated to clients and services in these towns. We kept the format of arranging times to meet with groups, schools, allied health teams and clients, which worked well given people are busy and prefer to be able to book in an appointment in these areas. We did set up for a morning in Karratha at the EPIC (Empowering People In Communities) head office where the staff were very helpful and engaging.
As was with the schools in the Kimberley region, those I had the opportunity to visit in the Pilbara were very motivated to support their students. There was a significant interest in apps and software to support behaviour management, communication and literacy. Discussing the students and teachers needs, goals and then how these apps could be used to facilitate these included collaboration with our Tech team and discussions on how they can be involved to provide ongoing support. These sessions were beneficial not only to the schools but also in providing us with an understanding of the support that is available currently in this area.
Having completed trips in the Kimberley and Pilbara for this year I look forward to working with service providers and families to provide services in 2016.