Spirit Carnival creating lifesavers in regional WA

8 November 2016

The recent drowning death of a 6 year old Aboriginal girl at Kununurra highlights the important message that all children across our state need to learn vital Swim and Survive skills.4 aboriginal children with Royal Life Saving Society WA's Jen Mickle by the pool in Port Hedland

In the past 5 years 5 children aged 5-14 have drowned in Western Australia. While there were no drowning deaths in this age group last financial year, already since July this year two children aged 5-14 have lost their lives to drowning in our state, both in regional WA.

Royal Life Saving Society National Drowning Report figures show people in WA’s regional areas continue to be over-represented in drowning deaths, with a drowning rate 3.5 times higher than the Perth.

The Royal Life Saving Society WA is working hard to address these statistics, by focusing attention on swimming and lifesaving programs for children in regional and remote areas, with a special focus on remote aboriginal communities.

3 aboriginal boys showing off their place ribbons at the Spirit CarnivalToday the Royal Life Saving Society WA, in partnership with Swimming WA and the YMCA, is holding the Spirit Carnival at the Gratwick Aquatic Centre in Port Hedland.

The carnival is an opportunity for 50 children from Marble Bar, Yandeyarra and South Hedland and Port Hedland to get together and showcase their swimming and lifesaving skills, with the children from Marble Bar taking a more than 400 kilometre round trip to attend the event.

The children are today enjoying fun and interactive activities, including swimming races, traditional boat races and lifesaving activities, along with a special BBQ lunch and overnight accommodation.

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education, Trent Hotchkin says the children involved in this carnival will make a real difference in the future of their communities.

“Our desire is to see these children lead a generational change in their communities, learning skills to become the future lifesavers in remote and regional WA. We want to give these children the opportunity to not only learn skills to keep themselves safe while in, on and around water, but also to equip them to encourage all community members to develop lifesaving swimming skills.”

Swimming WA Chief Executive Officer Darren Beazley says community programmes like the Spirit Carnival are integral in providing every Western Australian with the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of swimming.

"Swimming is an activity that brings communities together - and can be enjoyed at all stages of life. It's genuinely thrilling to see the enjoyment that events like this bring to kids in the most remote areas of our state. We want to ensure accessible events are available to children, catering to a range of skills, no matter where they live," Mr Beazley said.

For more information about the work Royal Life Saving is doing to teach regional and remote children Swim and Survive skills click the link below.

A group of aboriginal children in front of the red Swim and Survive banner at the Spirit Carnival