Lynwood children Swim and Survive

12 April 2016

From the 30th March to the 8th of April Royal Life Saving Society WA ran a Swim and Survive Access and Equity program at Lynwood Senior High School.

The program saw 100 high school students from the Lynwood Intensive English Centre participate. Many of these students, who came from 15 different nationalities, had never had the opportunity to take part in swimming and water safety lessons before.

Drowning remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in children, and reducing childhood drowning remains a worldwide challenge. Recent Royal Life Saving Society WA data shows 18 children aged 5-14 years drowned in our state over the past 10 years. Over the same period there’s been a 30% increase in the number of non-fatal drowning incidents with 85 children hospitalised. 22% of these children were from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds.

A key objective of Royal Life Saving is to introduce the Swim and Survive swimming and water safety program to all cultural groups across WA. Research has found that within these groups, there are alarmingly low participation levels in swimming and water safety programs, while their awareness of the importance of swimming and water safety and lifesaving skills is significantly lower than the rest of the population. This contributes to their over-representation in drowning statistics.

Lynwood Senior High School’s Intensive English Centre Program Coordinator, Ania Duszenko, says “The Centre provides educational opportunities for students new to the country, language and Australian schooling. Introduction to the Australian lifestyle is an integral part of our program. Swimming is regarded as an essential skill in our society and may be taken for granted by many Australian children, however most IEC students arriving from different countries, often from refugee camps, have had very little or no exposure to water safety.”

The program, which has been run annually for the past four years, provides Swim and Survive lessons conducted by professional swim instructors, and is always well received and enjoyed by the students. Ms Duszenco says “This year we are particularly happy to see many Muslim girls participating as we wouldn’t wish them to miss this great learning opportunity due to the cultural reasons. It is pleasing to see that appropriate swimming outfits are now available for them, as previously this was an issue some families found difficult to deal with."

The Royal Life Saving Swim and Survive Access & Equity Program, supported by our Principal Community Partner BHP Billiton, aims to reduce barriers to participation, by providing quality swimming and water safety lessons for children experiencing social or economic disadvantage.

Multicultural children at Lynwood Senior High School showing off their Swim and Survive certificates