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SAES serving at COVID-19 checkpoints in remote west

SAES serving at COVID-19 checkpoints in remote west

SAES serving at COVID-19 checkpoints in remote west

6 May 2020

Volunteer Ben Boekholt and his team prepare dinner for firefighters and other personnel serving near the Forrest Highway checkpoint.

By Simone Worthing

Western Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has seen Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) volunteers catering for front-line personnel at two checkpoints in remote regions of the state – an arrangement that could last up to three months.

A small team of three is stationed on Forest Highway near Lake Clifton, 115km south of Perth. They prepare two sessions of breakfast for up to 40 people, lunch for 25, and dinner for their checkpoint and another checkpoint on the South West Highway, Waroona, about 18km to the west. Midnight meals for 40 are also provided.”

Dilly (left) and Nat ‘cook up a storm’ for front-line personnel in remote Western Australia.

All meals are takeaway under COVID-19 restrictions.

“These are not border checkpoints,” explained Dilly Twomey, volunteer coordinator for the SAES in Western Australia. “They separate regional from metropolitan areas and are here to stop unnecessary travelling between the two.

“We are catering for the police, Australian Defence Force personnel and small teams from the Department of Main Roads, which includes traffic management. The atmosphere is positive and upbeat, and we are very safe.”

Dilly explained that due to social distancing, only two volunteers are allowed on shift at once.

“We have two shifts,” she said. “One from 5am to 2pm, and the other 5pm to 2am. The police have provided a house for us nearby, so one of us can sleep while the others are on shift.

“We also have some lovely volunteers who will drive down from Ellenbrook (around 140km away) and do extra shifts. One volunteer always brings someone extra, so we get a break.

“We also have a great team of amazing volunteers at the SAES head office at Malaga (about two hours away), who prepare the food for us to serve. This includes breakfast pies, quiches, savouries, sausage rolls and other goodies that can be easily frozen. We couldn’t do this without our volunteers and are careful not to overuse them or tire them out!”

Volunteer Sam and her team love the service they are providing.

The SAES began catering at the sites on 3 April.

Col Blanch, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Western Australia, initially contacted Ben Day, The Salvation Army Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management State Coordinator, to see whether the SAES was available to cater.

“They initially wanted us to serve at nine different points, but we knew that wasn’t possible,” said Ben. “We said we could do two and we pulled our resources together and sent a small team, supplemented with volunteers.”

The Western Australia Police Force has asked that the SAES teams extend their service to three months. “The police are very happy to work with us, and we work in with their needs and adhere to all the restrictions as well,” said Dilly. “It’s a great team and I am very blessed to be here.”

Dilly is in her sixth year serving with the SAES. “I began as a volunteer because I wasn’t able to become a firefighter and my best chances of serving were cooking for our firies. I wanted to make a difference to the people on the front line doing some dangerous work so we could live safely in our communities,” she said. “I saw the ad for this job, applied and was successful. I just love it!”

Busy time

Ben explained that the SAES in Western Australia has been very busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting communities across the state.

“Last week, we assisted the government by providing 300 lunches in Fremantle for a recently arrived plane. Passengers were being sent to Rottnest Island to quarantine for 14 days before being allowed back on the mainland,” he explained.

“Passengers had endured a lengthy journey from South Africa and encountered many delays along their route. Passengers were extremely grateful to receive something to eat and drink before continuing the last leg of their journey.

“In addition to these operations, we assisted police on the Fremantle Wharf a few weeks ago as they removed a number of passengers from the cruise ship Artania. This operation went for four days and we were catering on-site around the clock.”














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