Multicultural Award for Swim and Survive Access and Equity program

15 March 2022

The 2022 WA Multicultural Awards were held on Monday 14th March and presented honours across 10 categories celebrating multiculturalism in our state. The awards are hosted by the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI), a division of the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

winners at the 2022 WA Multicultural AwardsThe WA Multicultural Awards acknowledge and celebrate individuals and organisations who have made a positive contribution to advancing multiculturalism, inclusion and equity in Western Australia. WA is one of the most diverse states in Australia with close to one third of our population born overseas, more than half with at least one parent born overseas, and three quarters identifying as having a non-Australian ancestry. 

The OMI works to achieve the full potential of multiculturalism in Western Australia by developing strategies that include everyone from culturally diverse communities, business and industry groups, government agencies and the community at large. These strategies aim to help develop a society that values and maximises the benefits of cultural diversity as one of our state’s greatest strengths. 

Royal Life Saving WA is honoured to have been the recipient of this year’s Community Organisation Award (General) for our Swim and Survive Access and Equity program. The program aims to address the fact that multicultural communities are drastically overrepresented in drowning statistics. Tragically, 40% of drownings recorded in Western Australia involve people who were born overseas.

Thanks to funding from a Lotterywest grant, Royal Life Saving is able to provide programs to at-risk communities, including emerging multicultural communities in the Perth metropolitan area.

“Many new arrivals to Western Australia have poor or non-existent swimming and water safety skills,” says Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager Education Trent Hotchkin. “Our research shows a lack of access and participation in swimming and water safety education programs among multicultural communities.” Barriers to participation can include cost, access and availability, and, for many migrant women, issues of cultural modesty.

Royal Life Saving WA has worked directly with multicultural communities in recent years to address these alarming drowning statistics. Since 2009, Royal Life Saving has delivered women’s only swimming lessons at various locations across the Perth metro area, providing a safe and culturally appropriate space for women to learn these vital skills. Over 1000 women took part in the program last year.

Similarly, we now also provide men’s only swimming lessons for those facing the same barriers to participation. Specialised after school programs targeting children from multicultural communities are also provided in several metro and regional locations, helping these children to catch up to their Australian-born peers.

Royal Life Saving WA recently worked with its Multicultural Steering Committee to develop a Swimwear Guide, advising multicultural communities about the culturally appropriate swimwear options available to them. Our Multicultural Steering Committee brings together leaders and ambassadors from a range of multicultural communities in WA and ensures our swimming and water safety programs meet the needs and cultural requirements of these communities. The Swimwear Guide was a first of its kind and has laid the foundation for major sports in WA to follow suit.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients at the 2022 WA Multicultural Awards, we were honoured to be named among such esteemed peers. View the full list of winners here.

To learn more about our Swim and Survive Access and Equity program, visit the link below.

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