Hedland women build Swim and Survive skills

12 February 2020

A group of Port Hedland women completed another successful 8-day Women’s Only Swim and Survive program over the recent school holidays. The program, aimed at multicultural women, enabled new beginners to be introduced to the water and progressed past program participants up to achieve a higher level.

Multicultural women swimming with their instructor in the pool at South Hedland, pushing another woman who is laying on a matThe program continued a long-running partnership between Royal Life Saving WA, the Port Hedland Well Women’s Centre and the Pilbara Migrants Centre, which has produced some fantastic results.

Pilbara Migrant Centre coordinator Victoria Maylek plays a key role in the initial promotion of the program and providing enrolment support. Her relationship with community members has been a key to the program’s success and is now leading to referrals from past program participants recommending the lessons to their family and friends.

The Well Women’s Centre supports the program with its very own Program Coordinator Justine Esmonde also taking on the role as qualified Swim Instructor to teach the women who take part. During the recent program support was also provided by Justine’s daughter Ruby, who took on an observational & assistance role as she works toward completing her AUSTSWIM Swim Instructor qualification.

The results from the recent program were outstanding with all the women confident to work in deep water. The most advanced group will now further their swimming skills by joining an adult lesson group with the Town of Port Hedland Swim School.A woman wearing a head scarf receiving her swimming certificate from her swim instructor

Justine says the key for her is to empower the women! “I want to see them face their fears, laugh, cry, have fun and make new friends. This recipe has been working in Hedland for the past two years and at the end of the swim program the women and their families are invited to the Well Women’s Centre for a shared meal and special certificate award ceremony which they really enjoy, and the smile on their face as they receive their Swim and Survive certificate is priceless!”

Royal Life Saving WA Pilbara Development Officer Jacqui Forbes supports the program from the sidelines, cheering the women on and making sure all runs smoothly. “I am always amazed on the first night when the group arrives at the pool looking very tentative and unsure of themselves. On the last session I make a point of arriving and get such a buzz out of seeing the progression – jumping into the deep, learning to reach rescue, wearing a personal flotation device (PDF) and showing off their general water safety knowledge. Coming from a swimming background I will never be able to experience the fear these ladies have overcome, but myself and the local pool staff are all inspired by their progress.”

Based on the success of the recent women’s program a men’s only Swim and Survive program for beginners is being run on Sunday afternoons throughout Term One.

You can find out more about our Access and Equity Swim and Survive programs for multicultural communities at the link below.

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