Christmas Island celebrates water safety

11 January 2018

Christmas Island – the remote Indian Ocean Australian Territory and former Singapore Straits Colony – has much to celebrate when it comes to promoting water safety. A tropical island famous for its annual red crab migration, unique bird life and spectacular diving, this culturally diverse community comprising mainly Chinese and Malay people has embraced the opportunity to teach its youth about the importance of lifesaving skills.

Year 12 austswim teachersThese skills were put into action by two local boys just days before Christmas 2016, when 17-year-old Brady Collett was spearfishing off the coast of Christmas Island. After suddenly blacking out, Brady was rescued by brothers Thomas and Samuel Hicks, who received Royal Life Saving Gold Medallion Bravery Awards for their actions.

Thomas and Samuel’s mother Kathryn attributes her sons’ bravery to the lifesaving skills taught to them by both their dad Terry and local Sharon Francis.

Sharon, a Royal Life Saving WA aquatic trainer and teacher at Christmas Island District High School, is passionate about Island children having the opportunity to learn vital swimming and water safety skills. Sharon organises swimming and water-safety lessons through the recreation centre and in-term swimming.

Water-safety skills and water-based knowledge, including CPR, are included in her classroom teaching with students and through Bronze Medallion Courses, which are offered to the community.
Swimming lessons at flying fish cove
Christmas Island DHS staff annually requalify their School Teachers’ Aquatic Rescue Training Award with Sallie Watson, a trainer from Royal Life Saving WA. Due to the annual red crab migration, their most-recent open-water skill session was shared with the Island red crabs!

With a transient population on the Island, it is important to continue to provide AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety Courses. This year, nine people have become teachers of Swimming and Water Safety through courses presented by Sharon Francis in her role as AUSTSWIM presenter. For the first time in the 14 years that Sharon has been living on the Island three year 12 students at CIDHS joined the swim teaching staff for the in-term swimming program. The Year 12 students - Michaela Francis, Mirka Otto and Courtney Ellis - are role models for younger students.

Ian Francis, Principal at Christmas Island DHS, supports the importance of all children learning the vital skills to Swim and Survive in both closed and open water, saying they’re "important skills to know when living on an island".

To find out how Royal Life Saving can assist children in your school to learn swimming, water safety and first aid skills click the link below.

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