CaLD program receives IPAA Innovation Award

30 June 2017

The Institute of Public Administration Australia Awards are the only awards ceremony in WA to recognise organisational achievements across all 3 tiers of government, the not for profit and academic sectors. Royal Life Saving Society WA is pleased to have been selected as a winner at the awards this year, for Innovation in the Not-For-Profit sector, focusing on the work the organization is involved with in WA’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) community.

RLSSWA's IPAA Award for InnovationCaLD communities are over-represented in drowning statistics, and many new arrivals to Western Australia have poor or nonexistent swimming and water safety skills. Last year 24.3% of drowning deaths were born overseas. Of these two thirds were from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Royal Life Saving Society WA has taken a collaborative approach to address this issue, working with government agencies including the Office of Multicultural Interests, Department of Sport and Recreation and local government, along with settlement agencies, Dianella Secondary College and BHP Billiton in the private sector, to develop programs that service a range of at-risk communities across WA.

These communities have included newly arrived migrants to Australia, who have been offered specialized swimming and water safety education programs through schools with large migrant intakes, and local aquatic centres in areas where there is a large migrant population. These programs have not only achieved outcomes around water safety, but also broader social outcomes in terms of inclusion, education, health and fitness.

In working closely with multicultural and local community group leaders Royal Life Saving is assisting these communities to begin to actively understand the importance of water safety education, and prioritise the needs that exist within their own communities, and what activities are most relevant for them. We’ve established a Multicultural Steering Committee, which brings together leaders from local agencies including Chung Wah, the Indian Society, settlement agencies, ISHAR, Communicare and the Office of Multicultural Interests, to enable us to better understand the barriers, cultural understandings and adaptations needed for successful change.

This collective knowledge has led us to the development of culturally appropriate programming, including women’s only and men’s only swimming lessons, a CaLD Swimwear Guide which assist CaLD communities and lifeguards working at aquatic centres to understand the issue of culturally appropriate swimwear and what is suitable for particular types of aquatic activity, and innovations to make local aquatic centres hubs where all members of the local community are welcome and catered for.

Royal Life Saving Society WA is proud of its work in WA’s CaLD community, and the partnerships it has developed to ensure this work is effective and culturally relevant. We’re pleased that the Institute of Public Administration has recognized this work, and we’d like to thank all of the organizations who’ve partnered with us to make these swimming and water safety education programs so successful for culturally and linguistically diverse West Australians.