At risk children learn to be Water Smart

26 May 2016
Water safety awareness and the ability to swim are central to the WA lifestyle, with our climate and diversity of waterways promoting a range of social, recreational and sporting activities in, on and around water.

A key objective of Royal Life Saving Society WA is to introduce the Swim and Survive program to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) groups in our state, with research showing that within these groups, awareness of the importance of swimming and lifesaving skills is significantly less than the rest of the population.

A review of drowning data indicates limited water safety awareness, combined with alarmingly low participation levels in swimming and water safety programs, are contributing factors in the over-representation of CaLD community members in drowning statistics.

Alarmingly, in the last 5 years there have been 50 drowning deaths in WA involving members of the CaLD community, which represents 37% of all drowning deaths. Action is needed to develop a response to the range of factors influencing CaLD communities’ lack of participation in swimming & water safety education.

Over the winter period Royal Life Saving Society WA is teaching school children the newly developed Water Smart Award, a fun, interactive classroom course teaching:
  • Water safety (looking at different aquatic environments, dangers & key safety actions) 
  • Safe rescue techniques (talk, reach and throw rescue) 
  • Resuscitation and basic first aid skills

The Australian Islamic College in Kewdale and Thornlie are the first to participate in the newly developed Water Smart Award in WA, with numbers exceeding Royal Life Saving expectations. 137 female students have registered to learn these vital lifesaving skills after school over 6 week period this term. 40 of these are from the Thornlie Campus, and 87 are from the Kewdale Campus.

Royal Life Saving has partnered with the Communicare Get Active Project to make this possible for these Muslim girls.

Water Smart is a national award aimed at equipping all Australian children to actively and safely participate in aquatic activities. Royal Life Saving Society WA has enhanced this program by making it more suitable to our cultural groups and interactive for all children. We are hoping to roll this course out within all our key partner community groups, while also encouraging all schools to get involved in teaching water safety and becoming a Water Smart school.

Water Smart is delivered as part of the Royal Life Saving Swim and Survive Access and Equity program, which is designed to address limited water safety awareness and low participation levels in at-risk communities. The Swim and Survive Access and Equity program is proudly supported by Principal Community Partner BHP Billiton, the Department of Sport and Recreation and the Office of Multicultural Interests.

3 Muslim girls wearing lifejackets