Healthy swimming fun for Martu children in Newman

16 April 2020

Note: This story includes information and images taken earlier in term one before social distancing measures were put in place and public swimming pools closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martu children practising 'rocket arms' with their instructor in the pool at NewmanIn partnership with BHP and the Shire of East Pilbara, Royal Life Saving WA facilitated a Swim and Survive program for Martu Education Centre in Newman. The children enjoyed eight weeks of Swim and Survive lessons at the Newman Aquatic Centre early in Term One 2020.

Martu Education Centre provides literacy and numeracy support to Martu students from primary schools in Newman, and has partnered with Royal Life Saving WA for a number of years to give these children an opportunity to learn vital swimming and water safety skills.

The Swim & Survive Program is of huge importance in remote and regional communities, as research has found that the drowning rate amongst Australian Aboriginals is three times higher than other Australian children aged 0–14 years, and is ranked the second-most common cause of injury death. A review of drowning data indicates limited water safety awareness combined with alarmingly low participation levels in swimming and water safety programs as key factors in these statistics.Two Martu boys with arms around each others shoulders sitting on the edge of the pool at Newman

After their swimming lessons each week the children also engaged in the Go For 2&5 Swim for Fruit program, which provides the children with an opportunity to practise their swimming skills, while also encouraging healthy eating. Children who complete swimming sessions are rewarded with an afternoon tea of fresh fruits. The program also provided all students with a towel, goggles and a swim bag.

Ginny Masters from the Martu Education Centre says the program makes a real impact in the Newman community. “We appreciate the support that the Newman team give our students so they get regular swimming lessons. This term we witnessed increased confidence in our non-swimmers and strengthened swimming skills in all students. Swimming is a great way for our students to celebrate school attendance, cool down, relax and enjoy water skills. They loved their Tuesday and Thursday swimming lessons with Miss Kandi, Brian and Miss Britany.”

We look forward to being able to again engage with the children and staff from the Martu Education Centre again once WA’s aquatic centres can re-open following the COVID-19 lockdown. This program is Newman is part of the Royal Life Saving WA Access and Equity initiative, which is supported by Principal Community Partner BHP. You can learn more about this program at the link below.

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Newman, like many towns in regional and remote WA, struggles to attract swim instructors to teach Swim and Survive programs in their town. If you’re looking for an opportunity to have a job that really makes a difference Royal Life Saving WA encourages you to consider completing an AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety course so that you can join our team. We will be teaching these courses again as soon as we are able to reactivate. You can find out more at the link below.

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