Celebrating vital partnerships on Aboriginal Childrens Day

4 August 2020

As we celebrate Aboriginal Children’s Day 2020, Royal Life Saving WA is extremely proud to be able to assist thousands of Aboriginal children to learn vital swimming and water safety skills each and every year. By partnering with a range of community organisations across the state we reach many children who would otherwise miss out on learning these vital skills.

Royal Life Saving data shows that children in regional and remote areas of WA were 6.4 times more likely to drown than those in the Perth metropolitan area. Between 2009 and 2019, 11 per cent of drowning deaths in the 5-14-year age group involved Aboriginal children. We’re determined to turn these statistics around by engaging Aboriginal children in learning to Swim and Survive.

Our remote Aboriginal swimming pools at Balgo, Bigyadanga, Burringurrah, Fitzroy Crossing, Jigalong, Warmun and Yandeyarra saw a total of 3662 children take part in swimming lessons during the last pool season. We also provided a series of Swim and Survive lessons for 12 children from the Strelley Remote Community School, which is a 50-minute drive inland from Port Hedland. During Term One this year school teachers Anne and Paul Westerink drove the school’s bus to the Gratwick Aquatic Centre in Port Hedland and back each week, so their students could access these vital lessons which were made possible by the Uncle Tobys Swim My Way program, a partnership with Royal Life Saving Australia.

Our Go for 2&5 Swim for Fruit program has been running for more than a decade now, thanks to Healthway, and since 2009 it’s seen 27,436 children take part across 6 remote communities and 12 regional areas, learning not only swimming skills but also the principals of healthy eating.

Late in 2019, 160 Aboriginal children participated in our annual Spirit Swimming and Lifesaving Carnival in Port Hedland, with children from remote communities such as Nullagine, Jigalong, Yanderyarra and Newman enjoying an opportunity to get together and showcase the swimming and lifesaving skills they learnt throughout the year via the Swim and Survive and Swim for Fruit programs, supported by Principal Community Partner BHP, Healthway, and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

As we move ahead, in the later part of 2020, we’re looking forward to again partnering with the Julyardi Aboriginal Corporation, to provide swimming and water safety programs for Aboriginal children around Port Hedland. Such community partnerships ensure we can effectively assist local children and families who may otherwise be unable to engage with swimming programs at their local aquatic centres.

Royal Life Saving WA is thankful to all the sponsors and community organisations who make this vital work with Aboriginal children across WA possible, and looks forward to seeing these partnerships continue to flourish into the future. You can read more about our swimming programs for Aboriginal children at the link below.

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