Multicultural Kalgoorlie families dive into Swim and Survive

20 March 2021

A girl holding up a red kickboard in the poolAustralia is a diverse nation, with almost half of Australians either born overseas themselves or with a parent who was, while more than 7.5 million people have migrated to Australia since 1945. Sadly, many of those coming to Australia from overseas lack the vital swimming and water safety skills required to fully enjoy our water-loving lifestyle, and this can have tragic consequences.

Western Australian statistics show that over the past ten years 39% of drowning deaths in WA involved a person born overseas. – that’s 134 multicultural West Australians who’ve lost their lives to drowning. Of these, 61% were from a non-English speaking country.

A key objective of Royal Life Saving WA 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.Multicultural women in the pool with their instructor

Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager Education, Trent Hotchkin says, “We continue to work hard right across Western Australia, partnering with relevant community groups to ensure those from all cultural and social backgrounds acquire vital swimming and water safety skills. We are committed to teaching every child to Swim & Survive, and we recognise that this task is even more important given WA’s climate and lifestyle that encourages so much activity in and on the water. We’re determined to ensure each new generation acquires these skills, and no-one misses out, no matter who they are or where they live.”

As part of this commitment Royal Life Saving WA’s Swim and Survive Access & Equity Program, supported by Principal Community Partner BHP, has this week brought specialised multicultural swimming and water safety classes to Kalgoorlie for the first time, during Harmony Week. The program aims to reduce barriers to participation, by providing culturally appropriate, quality swimming and water safety lessons for children and adults who may otherwise miss out.

A swim instructor in the water with their student

The Kalgoorlie program began last Saturday 13th March, with a water safety talk, followed by one hour of adult swimming lessons. Then throughout this week, and continuing next week, qualified instructors are running multicultural children’s Swim and Survive classes for stages one through to six, while adults are enjoying a series of three intensive one hour Swim and Survive lessons to learn new skills or build on existing ones.Two multicultural children with their Swim Instructor at the edge of the pool

The Kalgoorlie program has been attended by dozens of women and children at the Goldfields Oasis. It's been strongly supported by local school teacher and founder of Black and CUTE, Moira Mudzimwa. Moira, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe before emigrating to Australia in 2007, understands the need for Kalgoorlie’s multicultural community to learn these vital skills as they take pride in their African identity while also enjoying all that the Australian culture has to offer.

You can read more about our work in WA's multicultural communities at the link below.

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