Strelley kids take a long drive for vital skills

20 December 2021

Two Aboriginal children in the pool with pool toysMore than dozen school students from the Strelley Remote Community School took part in in-term swimming and water safety lessons during Term Four, thanks to an important service agreement between Royal Life Saving WA and the Department of Education. The students made the long haul to Port Hedland Gratwick Aquatic Centre from their remote community - a four-hour round trip – daily for a week!

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, but also a lack of access to suitable locations for lessons, and cultural barriers to participation. Royal Life Saving WA and the Department of Education have worked collaboratively to address workforce challenges in regional areas through a number of arrangements from fully outsourcing the delivery of programs, through the supply of contract staff from Perth and other regions, to supporting Department of Education staff to deliver programs where supplementary instructors are needed.
Aboriginal children in the pool with their instructor, swimming under a pool noodle arch

The recent program at Port Hedland saw Royal Life Saving WA Swim Instructor Clancy Jones work alongside a Department of Education Swim Instructor to make the lessons possible. The children taking part ranged in age from four years to teenagers, with Clancy taking the older students through their paces with vital survival skills and refining their stroke technique. Water safety education was introduced and reinforced with the younger students enjoying the Royal Life Saving WA story book "The Adventures of Dippy Duck” along with generalised water safety education relevant to inland waterways, which was held in an informal format on the pool deck.

Royal Life Saving Pilbara Development Officer Lauren Thompson says it certainly was a busy week for the kids! “It sure did wear out the students, with many of them sleeping the bus ride home each day. They had to pack in a lot of content daily to get through the required components for their levels in the week.”

Royal Life Saving WA’s work in the Pilbara is supported by Principal Community Partner BHP, and this program also received additional funding from Child Australia, who provided each of the students with goggles and a towel to ensure they had all the required gear they needed to get involved in this vital education.

You can find out more about our work in the Pilbara region at the link below.

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