Humans of the Wheatbelt - Rob Tinetti

Humans of the Wheatbelt is an initiative by the Wheatbelt Health Network.

Humans of the Wheatbelt is an initiative by the Wheatbelt Health Network.

I was transferred from Perth to Northam as the Manager of Coles in 1985. So after 34 years here, I'm almost considered a local!

I was born and educated in Kalgoorlie. I met my wife Dianne Halford at Eastern Goldfields High School, she was 14 and I was 16 years old. We married in 1975. We worked on Dianne's family's sheep/cattle station out of Kalgoorlie for a few years and then on a family farm in Narembeen. It's hard work, but I like the lifestyle.

We now have three beautiful daughters and seven grandchildren, two were just born this year. All my girls travelled overseas before meeting their partners back in WA. The youngest on a Rotary Exchange. Our eldest daughter Tina lives in Northam and works with us full time, the other girls live in Perth. Hollie worked a few years at the Gold Coast Hospital working in ED whilst doing her Masters. Adene is a skipper and tour guide with Rottnest Express and studies Embalming part time, working for us when she can.

I am a past President of the Northam Rotary Club and was the Northam Chamber of Commerce President for three years, and past Vice President of the Australian Funeral Directors Association. I currently sit on the board of Avon Community Development Foundation (ACDF) and Avon Industrial Park Advisory Board. I have been a Northam Shire counsellor for 16 years. I am the Avon Branch President for The Nationals.

I have always been interested in politics. I really enjoy bouncing ideas around with state political representatives. I have supported Max Trenorden, Brendon Grylls, and now Mia Davies.

My dad would never have forgiven me for not voting Labor! Things have changed - it's not so one sided in the country as it once was.

I remember my first school holidays job was on the mines and as I lined up for my first pay cheque - a big burly guy was standing there saying 'have you got your union card' and when I said 'no' he said 'that's ok only because you're a student'. I think the union was really important for worker safety in the mining industry - they did a good job umpiring and negotiating pays.

I have a passion for music - I wanted to be a drummer when I was growing up but Boulder Primary School Band and Boulder Town Council Band already had one so I had to play brass till I was 14. When I was 16 - I drew the entire savings out of my account and bought my first drum kit. I ended up playing professionally for about three years in and out of pubs and nightclubs in Kalgoorlie.

When we arrived in Northam we met Colin and Chris Purslowe through playgroup and school, and became good friends. Colin suggested I manage their funeral home. Dianne and I spent a few weeks trialing the job at a funeral home in Perth, and we both decided that this was something we'd like to do. That was 26 year ago. I don't call it a job, it's a lifestyle. We are on call 24/7.

Last year we acquired a one of a kind vintage hearse, custom built in Perth from a 1928 Buick. It was a long project that turned by hair from brown to grey, but we like to offer people different ways to farewell their loved ones.

For me, the hardest moments at work are when the death hits a bit close to home - like the death of a family friend's child. You have to be strong for them. It's very hard. We also look after road trauma and sudden deaths which can be pretty upsetting. We always have a preamble and a debrief after a funeral to ensure we are all feeling mentally ok. It's also sad when someone dies and there is no family or close friends to arrange their funeral. Sometimes we are the only people in attendance but we still give them a special send off, music and flowers. Every life matters, and it's about respect.

I love Northam. The projects that the shire is putting through such as the new Youth Precinct and Aquatic Centre - plus the private investment such as Dome, Commercial Hotel, The Duke, Bilya Koort Boodja, expansion of the hospital and the super clinic - it is very exciting. There are plans for a new aged care and lifestyle village, and affordable housing. Northam has so much going for it!

The best moments in my life so far have been meeting my wife and starting a family that just keeps on growing!

The worst moment in my life was in 1982 - my nephew who was in his final year at Merredin Collage, before returning to the family farm in Narembeen, died in a school bus accident. It was so tragic. My sister's faith helped them through it.

My advice to young people would be, have respect for your parents. In hindsight there was so much more I could have done for my parents when they were alive - like around the house - I should have gone and chopped that wood. I think of the hard times I created when I used to rebel. I should have done better.

Young people have to stay positive - one door closes and another one opens. I would have never thought I would own a business like this. I used to muck around at school. I wasn't serious. I gave up a day job in order to play in a pub band. I had to sell some of my drum kit to buy an engagement ring.

I wish I had put more focus on my education growing up. In retrospect I might have studied geology but I was too interested in girls and music!I would like to travel more in Australia - there is so much to see.

Human - Rob Tinetti

Interviewer - Anna Cornish

Photo - supplied