Pilbara Aquatic Festival 2018

15 November 2018

140 children have today enjoy the fourth annual Spirit Swimming and Lifesaving Carnival at the South Hedland Aquatic Centre, as part of the Pilbara Aquatic Festival.

Five aboriginal young women in the pool with red Spirit Carnival t-shirts onRoyal Life Saving Society data shows that in the ten years between 2007 and 2017 there were 111 drowning incidents involving Aboriginal Australians across our state. 23 of these incidents were fatal drownings, while a further 57 resulted in the person involved being admitted to hospital. Overall Aboriginal Australians are 1.4 times more likely to be involved in a drowning incident than other Australians. Aboriginal children aged 0-4 are at a significantly greater risk of drowning, followed by children aged 5-14 years.

The Royal Life Saving Society WA is working hard to address these statistics, by focusing attention on swimming and lifesaving programs for children in regional and remote areas, with a special focus on remote aboriginal communities.

Today's Pilbara Spirit Swimming and Lifesaving Carnival was this year part of a two-day Pilbara Aquatic Festival, thanks to funding provided by Principal Community partner BHP, which has also seen children and adults take part in a variety of activities including a community BBQ and cultural awareness training.A lifeguard by the pool with a microphone with kids on the edge of the pool ready to race

The Pilbara Spirit Swimming and Lifesaving Carnival has grown significantly year on year, with 140 children from nine different schools attending this year. Through the carnival Royal Life Saving Society WA is making significant inroads into drowning prevention amongst Aboriginal children in regional WA. It gives the children an opportunity to get together and showcase the swimming and lifesaving skills they have learnt throughout the year via the Swim and Survive and Swim for Fruit programs, which are supported by Principal Community Partner BHP, Healthway, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

Aboriginal children sitting along the edge of a pool splashing the water with thier legsThe schools involved this year include Strelley / Warralong Community School, Strelley Campus, Marble Bar Remote Community School, Yandeyarra Remote Community School, Roebourne Primary School, St Cecilia’s Catholic Primary School, Port Hedland Primary School, Cassia Primary School and South Hedland Primary School, with the children collectively making round trip of more than 1400 kilometres to attend the event!

The day enables them to come together in a fun environment , participating in an interactive carnival that encourages physical activity and learning valuable lifesaving skills. Royal Life Saving WA Pilbara Development Officer Jacqui Forbes says the event is more than just your average school swimming carnival.

“The children have had the opportunity to take part in the usual swimming races, but also traditional boat races and lifesaving activities, along with being able to try water polo and synchronised swimming. To round out the experience they were all treated to a special BBQ lunch. The wide range of activities involved has made the carnival extremely popular with schools across the region!”Aboriginal boys standing on grass with a Swim and Survive sign in the background

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education, Trent Hotchkin says the hope is that the children involved in this carnival will make a real difference in the future of their communities.

“Our desire is to see these children lead a generational change, learning skills to become the future lifesavers in remote and regional WA. We want to give these children the opportunity to not only learn skills to keep themselves safe while in, on and around water, but also to equip them to encourage all community members to develop lifesaving swimming skills.”

You can read more about our work across the Pilbara region at the link below.

Explore more button