Harmony Week celebration as Dianella kids learn to Swim and Survive

17 March 2018

Two children with their swim instructor in the pool at DianellaAustralia is a diverse nation, with almost half of Australians either born overseas themselves or with a parent who was, while more than 7.5 million people have migrated to Australia since 1945. Sadly many of those coming to Australia from overseas lack the vital swimming and water safety skills required to fully enjoy our water-loving lifestyle, and this can have tragic consequences. Drowning data indicates that between 1st July 2006 and 30th June 2016 33.3% of drownings in WA involved people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds.

A key objective of Royal Life Saving is to introduce the Swim and Survive swimming and water safety program to all cultural groups across WA. Research has found that within these groups, there are alarmingly low participation levels in swimming and water safety programs, while their awareness of the importance of swimming and water safety and lifesaving skills is significantly lower than the rest of the population. This contributes to their over-representation in drowning statistics.

Royal Life Saving Society WA Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education Trent Hotchkin says, “We continue to work hard right across Western Australia, partnering with relevant community groups to ensure those from all cultural and social backgrounds acquire vital swimming and water safety skills. We are committed to teaching every child to Swim & Survive, and we recognise that this task is all the more important given WA’s climate and lifestyle that encourages so much activity in and on the water. We’re determined to ensure each new generation acquires these skills, and noone misses out, no matter who they are or where they live.” A swim instructor with 3 boys in the water at Dianella

The Royal Life Saving Swim and Survive Access & Equity Program, supported by our Principal Community Partner BHP, aims to reduce barriers to participation, by providing culturally appropriate, quality swimming and water safety lessons for children experiencing social or economic disadvantage. The Program achieves this by increasing access to safe aquatic facilities, qualified instructors and by providing structured swimming and water safety education via the Swim & Survive program.

A boy smiling at the camera with his swim instructorRoyal Life Saving Society WA is currently running a nine-week Swim and Survive program, from February to April, in partnership with the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre, Dianella Secondary College and local primary and high schools who have identified children that are at risk of not learning how to swim. 120 children are taking part from at least 8 different cultural backgrounds, including Syrian, Ethiopian, New Zealand, Sudanese, Afghan, Chinese, Iranian and Indian. 

To celebrate Harmony Week today we held a celebration at the Dianella Secondary College Swimming Pool, to showcase this Swim and Survive program, with children enjoying a BBQ, the Swim and Survive ‘Slip and Slide’ set up for children taking part in the classes, and an opportunity for the community members to come together.

This program has received additional support through SWIMS 4 ALL, a Royal Life Saving and UNCLE TOBYS initiative to get more Aussies active, having fun and growing their confidence in the water. The campaign supports a variety of swimming-based activities across Australia.