Celebrating a water safe Chinese New Year

2 February 2017

Royal Life Saving Society WA is determined to ensure that all West Australians can be safe in and around water, by providing swimming and water safety education relevant to all cultural groups.

For those who are born and raised in Australia it’s easy to take our vast waterways, pools and love for water activities for granted. In fact, most of those who’ve grown up in WA over the past fewA white Chinese dragon walking through the Chinese New Year Fair decades have even received swimming lessons as part of the school curriculum.

But for many of the more than 680,000 migrants living in Western Australia swimming and water safety education is something that isn’t prevalent in their country of birth, and sadly this is reflected in drowning statistics. For this reason Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Multicultural Steering Committee is determined to ensure all West Australians, no matter where they come from, learn vital swimming and water safety skills.

Recently WA’s lead Chinese association, Chung Wah, has taken a role on the committee, with Vice President William Chi a regular attendee at committee meetings. William says water safety is a major issue in his community.

“A lot of Chinese people don’t have much experience with water safety. Many never had any chance to swim in the homeland because there is no such facility. In China the rivers are only used for people with boats they’re not a swimming spot. This is the reason safety is a big issue when they come to Australia because we’re surrounded by sea, we have so many lakes, so many places with water and they don’t know how to swim, they have no idea about water safety.”

Last weekend Royal Life Saving Society WA volunteers joined with Chung Wah Association to hold a stall at the Chinese New Year Fair in Northbridge, in order to provide the community with Swimming and Water Safety information. New Year, or the “Spring Festival” as it is known in China, is that nation’s longest and most important holiday, continuing for two weeks and culminating with the Lantern Festival. Events during Chinese New Year are well attended, with this one drawing thousands of visitors, so it was great for Royal Life Saving Society WA to have the opportunity to take part and share our water safety message.

During 2017 we look to further strengthen our relationship with the Chung Wah Association and we’re working together to develop a range of swimming and water safety programming opportunities for the Chinese community. William Chi is excited about what is to come. “You are the first society to help us to build the knowledge to help our people. We are going to help our friends, members, families to know how to be water safe. Over our life we have multiple thousands of minutes, but under water you just have one and you will be gone. So that’s the very important message we need to get to our people.”