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All across the Pilbara, local residents and business owners have had to think outside the box when it comes to facing the challenges of COVID-19.

Soap and sanitiser supplies

Local Newman businesses Soap Bus Soap and Boulevard Pharmacy answered the call to meet urgent soap and hand sanitiser demands when town supplies were running low.

Soap Bush Soap is a small Indigenous owned business which specialises in homemade soaps, creams and beauty products using plant oils.

Soap Bush Soap owner Dolly Drage said they had been incredibly busy, but when she got the request for soap bars and foam for the schools, she knew she needed to jump on board for the good of her community.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to help our town during this time, and show everyone that the community is here to help,” Dolly said.

Similarly, Boulevard Pharmacy spent an entire day mixing ingredients to make hand sanitiser for BHP’s Newman Operations, local police, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service, EPIS Aged Care, Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation, and child care centres.

Business owner Liz Hyde said their team made 120 litres in one day.

“Since then we’ve helped source more than 2000 litres of hand sanitiser for our town’s people.” Liz said.

Both Soap Bush Soap and Boulevard Pharmacy were engaged through BHP’s Local Buy Program.

Deliveries on demand

Social and physical distancing has definitely had an impact on local businesses, so Pilbara Party Planners in Hedland and Sports Power Newman adapted to their situation and became an on demand delivery service for locals social distancing at home and FIFO workers at camp.

Pilbara Party Planners owner Mel Hatwel said if it wasn’t for this opportunity, she’d be locked inside with no income.

“Delivering items to BHP’s camps has allowed my business to not only continue, but we’ve also been able to employ another casual to help out as well,” Mel said.

Cleaning crews

Out of work Newman residents also found temporary employment through BHP’s need to heighten hygiene requirements as a critical control to continue operating.

BHP contracted a number of people who work at the local pool, beauty salon and other businesses to clean their light vehicles and site equipment.

Caring with caravans

The Newman Women’s Shelter and local police were able to continue to deliver critical services thanks to some creative thinking by BHP’s Geoscience team who loaned out caravans to both services.

The police used their caravan for shelter while monitoring regional boarders, while another caravan was repurposed to become a temporary home for the Newman Women’s Shelter.

Newman Women’s Shelter Manager Maggie Lewis said COVID-19 added complexity to housing women and children affected by family and domestic violence.

“The repurposed caravan was an absolute game changer for us,” Maggie said.

Donated Dongas

To support remote Aboriginal communities, BHP donated ten accommodation dongas from its Kurra Village in Newman to the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation.

The dongas were to be used as temporary quarantine facilities to help communities manage isolation requirements, and once COVID-19 passes, they will be repurposed as accommodation for medical and other essential services visiting remote communities.

For more information, click here (PDF 4.03MB)

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