Junior Lifeguard Talent Pool program makes a big splash in Hedland

15 October 2021

Two children swimming on thier back with orange lifesaving manikinsDozens of Indigenous students are learning vital swimming and rescue skills through the ever-expanding Community Rescue Club, an initiative that has been developed over recent months as a partnership between the Polly Farmer Foundation and Royal Life Saving WA’s Talent Pool program. This important collaboration has seen the establishment of a Junior Lifeguard Club for 9 to 11-year-olds, with students learning rescue techniques and building their swim fitness.

Royal Life Saving WA data shows that Aboriginal children aged 5-14 are 8.6 times more likely to fatally drown than non-Aboriginal children in WA. Contributing factors to this overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in drowning statistics include the fact that they have lower levels of swimming and water safety skills due to various barriers including cost, access, medical conditions and cultural barriers.Two children practising rescue swimming in the pool

We’re excited that this term new participants have joined the Community Rescue Club program, as we work to break down these barriers. Children from the Port Hedland School of the Air are now joining in, with 70 indigenous students now taking part weekly throughout Term Four, across five Hedland schools. Royal Life Saving WA Pilbara Development Officer, Lauren Thompson, says the program is breaking boundaries! “The level of participation is remarkable and Royal Life Saving is not aware of any similar program with such high rates of Indigenous participation in structured swimming across WA or even Australia.”

The schools involved in the program include Cassia Primary School, South Hedland Primary School, Baler Primary School and Hedland Senior High School along with the School of the Air. The program consists of a weekly two-hour session of structured learnig, held at the South Hedland Aquatice Centre, that specifically relates to water safety knowledge, swimming strokes and rescue skills.

Students range in age between 9 and 11 years and the program gives them confidence and courage to try new things. But Lauren says it doesn’t end there, “Additionally students are encouraged to engage in conversation about future jobs in the aquatics industry and we’re hoping to empower them to be leaders both within the classroom and the future workplace.”

The Community Rescue Club program is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Principal Community Partner BHP.

You can find out more about Royal Life Saving WA's Talent Pool program here.

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