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Westpac Rescue Legend Retires

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After more than four decades of dedicated service, Barry Walton is taking his well-earned retirement from Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

Barry Walton is a bit of a legend here in the Hunter Valley, starting at the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service back in 1975 as a volunteer crewperson and he has helped save thousands of lives since.

It’s clear to see the passion and enthusiasm Barry has for the service as he reminisces on an amazing career. “The ride has been amazing because when we started back in 1975 it was just a beach patrol service, no one was thinking about the future and what has transpired has just been amazing,” Barry said proudly.

From 1992, Barry was employed full time and started establishing the Service Volunteer network throughout Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. Today, there are many volunteers that make the Rescue Helicopter Service what it is today, thanks to hard working individuals like Barry.

Together with CEO Richard Jones, 1996 saw the pair begin to investigate expanding the Service to the New England North West (NENW) region. Tamworth was established soon after in 2000 and operates today with a team of dedicated professionals and volunteers.

Our good friend Richard Jones spoke very highly of this colleague and friend. “We have been so fortunate to have Barry as part of our helicopter family for more than four decades,” said Richard.

“Barry has a great faith in people and has always taken great pride in the way they have contributed to ensure the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service has been able to grow with the community and upgrade to continue to be an integral and essential part of the emergency service chain throughout Northern NSW,” added Mr Jones. 

Barry spent 14 years in the NENW and has made the move back to Newcastle to be with family and live out his retirement. He said “he had to stop and think about” what’s next for his retirement after a busy and rewarding career.

When asked about his favourite memories over the years he said, “I guess the unknown was the big thing, not knowing what’s going to happen next.” Spoken like a true man of the Service.

“I remember in the early days we had to do a Saint John’s first aid course at Broadmeadow and in the 3rdweek 20 surf lifesavers were shown a film on childbirth8 walked out that day and never returned,” Barry laughed.

“And so, we ended up with our crew of 12 rescue and 1 pilot,” he added.

Barry spending hours travelling, working with regional towns and individuals and driving the value of the Service has been instramental to where the Service is today. 

It is clear that everyone at the Rescue Helicopter Service is extremely grateful and proud of Barry, and on behalf of us here @ The Coalface, we thank you for your service mate. Happy retirement.

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Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service is seeking leader to join Advisory Committee

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The Westpac Rescue Helicopter is calling for Expressions of Interest from local business and community leaders to join our Hunter Advisory Committee. The Committee represents the region comprising Newcastle and the Hunter, Central Coast, Central West and Mid North Coast. Its purpose is to advise and assist the Board and Senior Management Team on matters relevant to the local region while providing governance and oversight on decision making.

The Committee currently has 7 members, including its Chair. Nominations are open for one new member and this appointment will be through a merit based process that considers skills, experience and qualifications. 

Expressions of interest close on Friday 16 October

Position advert and Position Description:

This is an unpaid voluntary position and the Service would like to thank our Community for your continued support as we operate 24-7 for all people in our community.

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Students Have A Yarn

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St James’ Muswellbrook welcomes a newly constructed yarning circle thanks to the generosity of Malabar Resources.

Fully funded by Malabar, the Yarning Circle will give students and teachers at St James’ Primary School in Muswellbrook the opportunity to sit together and enhance their understanding of Indigenous culture.

A Yarning Circle is an important part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and a harmonious and collaborative way of communicating. It promotes respectful relationships and provides an open environment to share cultural knowledge.

In August Malabar designed and installed the Yarning Circle which involved the placement of more than 5000kg of sandstone blocks.

Malabar’s Manager of Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Donna McLaughlin said, “We are delighted to continue building our relationship with St James’ and other schools in the region by providing resources that help their specific needs.”

“We look forward to seeing the Yarning Circle develop as native plants and artwork are added to the space, which will further facilitate cultural learning and understanding.”

The new space was enthusiastically received by students. “Thank you for this amazing and respectful area where we can teach others about our customs and traditions,” said year 6 student Tushawn.

St James’ Aboriginal Education Teacher, Tania Thompson expressed how thankful they are to have a designated place for our CREST Crew to meet and yarn.

“When we meet as a whole group from K-6 around the Yarning Circle, it gives students the opportunity to bond, form strong ties, and unite as one mob,” she said.

“Communicating, sharing and problem solving as a team are some of the extremely important life skills that we refine when meeting for Yarning Circle.”

“We learn to listen to one another and to respect the ideas and opinions of others regardless of their age, as we all have wisdom to share.”

St James’ will use the Yarning Circle as an extension of their classrooms and teaching practice to foster knowledge of Indigenous culture by engaging both indigenous and non-indigenous students and teachers.

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Have You Checked On Your Mates?

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This year has been an absolute shocker and it’s no secret that it has certainly taken a toll on all of our mental health in some way. R U OK? Day this year was more important than ever, and our mining companies and leaders went above and beyond to encourage employees to have meaningful conversations and connect with those around them. Let’s remember to take care and reach out to our mates every day of the year.

McLanahan

This year with COVID-19 restrictions in place the McLanahan team’s participation in R U OK? Day was a little different compared with previous years when they have hosted an R U OK? Day ambassador at their Newcastle premises.

Still wanting to make a difference, McLanahan donated over $2,000 to Craig Clarkes in his Coals to Newcastle Ocean Swim to raise money for Beyond Blue.

“Wow what an amazing generous donation from the McLanahan team. Hugely appreciate your kind praise and lifting the fundraising campaign over the $30,000 mark. Thanks heaps. I will be in touch.”

All staff members received an R U OK? lanyard and a yellow iced cupcake with the R U OK? flag.

DK Heavy Plant Services

RU OK? – that is what everyone was asking in the DK Heavy Plant Services (DKHPS) Workshop on September 10.

Too often people struggle in silence, do not know what resources are available, or even where to start when talking about their mental health.

Sue Milton, General Manager of Upper Hunter Community Services, was able to share with the DKHPS workforce simple advice and resources on these issues and whilst together enjoyed a great afternoon tea and conversation.  

Banlaw

To start the conversation, Banlaw grabbed some delish donuts for the team to enjoy, whilst taking time out to ask work mates R U OK?

“As you can see from our cheeky photo’s, the donuts were a hit and a way for all areas of the business to mingle and remind staff the importance of prioritising their mental health and looking out for those around them,” said Internal Sales Coordinator, Lauren Tonks.

With the combined efforts of their Newcastle and Perth offices, Banlaw successfully raised $216 for suicide prevention.

Northwest Mining

The team at Northwest Mining started the day bright and early with a mental health toolbox talk for R U OK? Day and encouraged the guys to participate by wearing their TradeMutt shirts – a workwear brand, with the mission to make the invisible issue of mental health impossible to ignore. 5% of TradeMutt’s profits go towards ‘This is a Conversation Starter Foundation’.

This led into a BBQ lunch for everyone, cooked by the company owner Shayne Clark. “We discussed some statistics on mental health and chatted about how to start conversations if you’re concerned about someone’s mental health,” said Shayne.

“Everyone was keen to be involved and engaged in the conversations, it was a great day.”

Bengalla

The Bengalla Team celebrated R U OK? Day this year, focusing on teaching people that there is more to say after the initial R U OK? It is important to keep the conversation going and check in on your work mates.

To support the initiative employees enjoyed a coffee and a Kit Kat before and after shift to start the conversation with their work mates. The four important steps include:

– Ask R U OK?
– Listen without judgement
– Encourage action
– Check in

It was an opportunity for team mates to check in on each other and it was well supported from all of site.

MACH Energy

R U OK Day saw Tom, Chloe and Matt take the opportunity to catch up over coffee and acknowledge that a conversation could change a life.

There was discussion around keeping an eye on your mates, actually asking R U OK? and what’s next after you’ve asked the question. The team remembered there’s more to say after R U OK? such as;

– How are you travelling?
– You don’t seem yourself – I am here if you want to talk about anything.
– Have you been feeling this way for a while?
– Have you thought about talking to your doctor or a health professional?
– Just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing.

Persas

The PERSAS team enjoyed each other’s company during a BBQ and discussed the benefits of R U OK? Day, while social distancing of course.

One thing that was emphasised on the day was not waiting until the next R U OK? day to have open discussions regarding each other’s wellbeing, instead keeping it as an open page where employees can talk to each other at any time.

Morgan Engineering

The R U OK day message is important to Morgan Engineering, but not only just one day a year. Mental Health is important to the Morgan Engineering workforce all year round. This year R U OK? Day coincided with the company’s fortnightly Toolbox talk, and Business Development Manager Graham Sutton said that everyone got involved with the conversation.

“It was a great opportunity to discuss what mental health means to our company,” said Graham.

“With many of employees on shift work and having to spend a lot of time away from their family and friends, it’s important for the whole Morgan Engineering team to be there for each other and check on their mates.”

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