Swim and Survive skills for Muslim children

13 September 2017

Western Australian drowning data highlights the fact that people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds are drastically over-represented in drowning deaths. On average over the last 5 years 36% of people who drowned in our state were born overseas, and 58% of these were from a non-English speaking background. Of these drowning deaths 21% were new arrivals in Western Australia who had limited water safety knowledge and swimming skills.

Peter Leaversuch, CEO of Royal Life Saving WA says “Many people from CaLD communities have never had the opportunity to participate in swimming and water safety programs that many Western Australians take for granted which places them at a greater risk of drowning.”

Royal Life Saving WA’s Swim and Survive Access and Equity program was developed to ensure that people from CaLD backgrounds have access to swimming and water safety programs. Mr Leaversuch says “Our concern is that too many people from CaLD communities are not participating in these programs and therefore not gaining the swimming and survival skills to participate safely, and that needs to change. This program aims to break down barriers to participation amongst CaLD communities such as cost and access to culturally appropriate venues and programs. It has been very successful with over 1,000 people participating in the program each year.”

Over an 8 week period this term Royal Life Saving Society WA has worked with the Australian Islamic Colleges in Thornlie and Kewdale to provide subsidised Swim and Survive lessons for around 500 children through our Swim and Survive Fund. The children also received water safety talks to learn about the fundamental concepts of staying safe around water.

Children from Pre-Primary to Year 6 have attended swimming lessons at Leisure World Gosnells, while female students from Years 4 to 10 had their lessons at St Brigids College, with each child receiving 8 lessons over the 8 weeks. The St Brigid's venue allowed the girls to have the privacy required to meet the cultural regulations in place for young Muslim women.

Royal Life Saving WA is committed to taking a leadership role and working with these high-risk communities to develop their water skills and knowledge and ensure that every Western Australian has the opportunity to learn to Swim and Survive, regardless of their cultural background or where they were born. Our hope is that by assisting children from the Islamic community to have access to this vital education we can enable them to more easily and safety adjust to Australian life and feel welcomed into our community.

Find out more about our swimming programs available for school children at the link below.

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 Learn more about our water safety education in schools below.

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