Access and Equity expands to Newman

8 April 2016

Aboriginal children in Newman have been enjoying swimming lessons throughout term one as part of our Swim and Survive Access and Equity program.

Drowning remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in children, and reducing childhood drowning remains a worldwide challenge. Recent data from the Royal Life Saving Society WA shows 18 children aged 5-14 years drowned in our state over the past 10 years. Over the same period there’s been a 30% increase in the number of non-fatal drowning incidents with 85 children hospitalised. 28% of these children were from an Aboriginal background.

The data also reveals that children were five times more likely to drown in regional and remote areas of Western Australia than in the Perth metropolitan area, they were also more likely to drown while swimming at inland waterway locations such as rivers, creeks and dams. 

Trent Hotchkin, Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education at Royal Life Saving WA says “drowning affects all communities and all regions in Western Australia and we need to ensure that all children have access to ongoing swimming and water safety programs. In order to prevent these tragedies, every Australian child must have basic swimming, water safety skills and knowledge of how to be safe when they are in, on, or around the water.”

The reality is in many communities, a swimming and water safety education is simply not accessible.

During term one 2016 10 Newman children, aged 5 and 6, who have never had the opportunity to participate in swimming lessons, were involved in 8 weeks of Swim and Survive classes at the Newman Aquatic Centre. The YMCA Early Learning Centre in Newman brought the children to the pool every Saturday, and they took part in structured swimming and water safety classes with qualified instructors.

The Swim and Survive Access and Equity program is proudly supported by Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Principal Community Partner BHP Billiton, and the Department of Sport and Recreation, and is designed to address limited water safety awareness and low participation levels in low socio-economic areas, Indigenous communities and those who live in regional or remote locations.

Over the next five years we want to see 1600 children complete Swim and Survive lessons through the program, and a further 3500 children and parents attend water safety talks and first aid training.

Mr Hotchkin says “The Swim and Survive Access & Equity Program not only helps children to have fun while being active and making new friends, but participating in this program helps to build their confidence in the water, while learning vital swimming and water safety skills that may one day save their life.”