Wirrpanda Foundation Deadly Sista Girlz learn to swim and survive

15 February 2018

Royal Life Saving WA has partnered with the Wirrpanda Foundation, to help engage more young Aboriginal People in swimming lessons. The program aims to target statistics that show the drowning rate amongst Australian Aboriginals is three times higher than other Australian children aged 0–14 years, and is ranked the second most common cause of injury death.

There is an alarmingly low rate of participation in swimming and water safety programs by Aboriginal children and this is seen as a key factor in these drowning statistics. The current partnership with the Wirrpanda Foundation will target Aboriginal youths across key metropolitan schools, with students from the Wirrpanda Foundation’s ‘Deadly Sista Girlz’ program at Gilmore College the first targeted group to take part.

Delivered by strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander role models, the Deadly Sista Girlz program aims to build self-esteem and confidence amongst school-aged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and enable them to make informed decisions about their personal health and wellbeing to lead a positive and healthy lifestyle.

Through the support of the Department of Local Government, Sport & Cultural Industries, BHP and Kwinana Recquatic the girls are learning important water safety skills through the Swim and Survive Program over a six week period from February through to mid-March.

Royal Life Saving WA Inclusion Coordinator Emily Balcombe says “Royal Life Saving’s Swim & Survive program will teach these girls vital swimming & water safety skills in a safe environment at their local aquatic centre, Kwinana Recquatic, which is a Royal Life Saving Endorsed Swim School.

“This program will also enable us to identify those who are ready to complete their Bronze Star or Bronze Medallion qualification which will assist them in furthering their employment opportunities when they leave school. This is the first program Royal Life Saving is running with the Wirrpanda Foundation, and we aim to target more schools throughout 2018.”

Deadly Sista Girlz Program Coordinator Shannon McGuire says the program provides a great opportunity for the students involved. “Many Indigenous students, because of financial difficulty or just being “ashamed” to swim with other students, may not finish a high level of water education and safety if it were not for organizations like Royal Life Saving and Wirrpanda Foundation working together to provide this service. Our DSG participants at Gilmore are very excited to be given this opportunity!”

Royal Life Saving WA looks forward to hearing from more Aboriginal schools across Perth who would like to take part in the program throughout 2018. If you’d like to know more please contact us at the link below.

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