Hedland CaLD adults gain confidence in the water

18 January 2021
A 10-week Swim and Survive program for multicultural adults kicked off in Port Hedland in December and is providing vital swimming and water safety skills to the area’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) community.

Alarmingly, more than one third of drowning deaths in WA over the past ten years have involved a person born overseas. Royal Life Saving is working to turn these figures around by partnering with various community groups to encourage participation in swimming and water safety activities amongst our CaLD communities.

27 participants are enrolled in the Hedland program with cultural backgrounds including Sudanese, Malaysian, Indian, African and Indonesian, among others. Royal Life Saving WA’s Pilbara Development Officer Lauren Thompson is running the program together with the help of another instructor.

“I am teaching some of the classes myself, as the participant numbers and skill level requires a more hands-on teaching style,” Lauren says. “Many of the participants come from backgrounds that do not understand the value of swimming lessons or have other priorities – such as family and work commitments – that take precedence over learning to swim.” 

“Most participants started the lessons with limited to no swimming ability. Many are shy, confused as to what is involved in the lessons and are new to inclusive learning environments. Being able to provide gender-appropriate lessons, at a time that is accommodating to the cohort of the class is very important.”

Multicultural women attending a swimming lesson at a poolProgram feedback has so far been very positive with the participants expressing their gratitude to Lauren and her fellow instructor for their “patience and consistent encouragement” and for providing a learning environment where they feel safe.

“The lessons are going very well,” says Lauren. “I can already see a great improvement in the participants’ confidence and skill levels. I feel privileged to be able to teach participants the skills to be safe around water. Too often, Australians take this knowledge for granted and I find it humbling to watch the participants’ confidence grow, and the smiles on their faces grow when the individual is genuinely proud of their achievements.”

This program was made possible thanks to the support of the Town of Port Hedland and Principal Community Partner BHP. Special thanks also go to Pilbara Community Legal Services’ Community Migrant Service Officer Victoria Malyk for her networking and support of the program’s participants, ensuring that their needs have been accommodated and included.

Learn more about Royal Life Saving WA’s work with CaLD communities at the link below:
Explore more button