Jigalong kids enjoy swimming success

9 March 2021

Aboriginal children stepping into the pool36 children from the remote Aboriginal community of Jigalong recently enjoyed two weeks of Department of Education in-term swimming lessons, thanks to a service agreement between the Department and Royal Life Saving WA. The program enabled these kids to learn vital swimming and water safety skills.

Children in regional communities often miss out on the benefit of school swimming lessons, mainly due to a lack of swim instructors to run these programs in regional areas. Royal Life Saving WA and the Department of Education have worked together to find a solution to this problem, sending instructors from Perth or ensuring there are local instructors to conduct the lessons.

Royal Life Saving WA Senior Manager Education, Trent Hotchkin, says it’s a very important step. “We’re pleased to partner with the Department of Education and provide our support to ensure kids in regional WA have access to vital swimming and water safety lessons. No children should miss out on learning these skills due to their location, and ensuring all Western Australian children learn to Swim and Survive is one of the most important investments we can make to prevent drowning.”Aboriginal children in the pool during their swimming lessons

The latest National Drowning report highlighted the fact that 57% of WA's drowning deaths happened outside the metro area in 2019-20, with people 3.8 times more likely to drown in regional and remote areas of WA. The provision of swimming and water safety programming in these areas is therefore crucial as we work to turn these figures around.

The recent program in Jigalong, funded by Principal Community Partner BHP, was taught by Deb Gill, our Jigalong Remote Pool Programs Coordinator who said she kept the lessons very practical for the environment the children experience locally. "We covered a lot in the 2 weeks - water polo, a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) session, flipper session as well as swimming techniques and non-contact tows. With the rivers flowing in the region right now we concentrated on safety in and around the rivers.”

The children involved were aged between 6 and 12 years and completed levels 3 to 6 in the swimming and water safety program. It’s exciting to see these children learn vital skills and be prepared to safely participate in water recreation around their local community.

Royal Life Saving WA is pleased to collaborate with government and non-government organisations like the Department of Education and BHP in our efforts to ensure no child misses out on learning swimming and water safety skills. You can find out more about our work in regional and remote areas of WA at the link below.

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