Kalgoorlie kids learn to Swim and Survive

16 May 2017

Children in regional WA are five times more likely to drown than those in the Perth metro area, so ensuring these children have access to swimming lessons is vital! Royal Life Saving Society WA recently held a special program in Kalgoorlie to provide Swim and Survive lessons for children at greatest risk of missing out.

The program, held at the Kalgoorlie Oasis Aquatic Centre last month, was run by Kristy Bettridge, a Swim Instructor from Perth who previously lived in Kalgoorlie and ran her own swim school there. Kristy’s understanding of the distinct needs of children in regional communities was a great asset to the program.

Four children wearing goggles and swim caps laying on a foam mat and kicking around the pool30 children from Aboriginal or newly arrived migrant backgrounds took part the 5 day program, learning skills to be safe in and around water. Research shows that the drowning rate amongst Aboriginal children is three times higher than other Australian children aged 0–14 years, with drowning the second most common cause of injury or death in the Aboriginal community. Similarly children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse migrant backgrounds are at high risk of drowning, with members of WA’s CaLD community accounting for 37% of all drowning deaths in the past 5 years.

A review of drowning data indicates limited water safety awareness, combined with alarmingly low participation levels in swimming and water safety programs are key factors in these statistics.

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Swim and Survive Access and Equity program is designed to turn these statistics around by introducing swimming and water safety programs to at-risk community groups across WA. The program provided vital Swim and Survive lessons for more than 700 WA children last financial year, and we’ve already well and truly surpassed those figures for the current year.

Children participating in the recent program at Kalgoorlie thoroughly enjoyed their Swim and Survive lessons, learning skills that may one day save their life!

The program was funded by the Royal Life Saving Society WA Swim and Survive Fund, which utilises donations from individuals, community organisations, corporate supporters and partner facilities to increases access to safe aquatic facilities, qualified instructors and to provide structured swimming and water safety education programs for those at-risk of missing out on learning these vital skills.