Program Benefits

The Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools project (RASP) has delivered significant positive outcomes for the communities involved, including health and social benefits and education and training opportunities.


Health Benefits

RASP is premised on the basis that providing well-maintained, well-supervised aquatic facilities and swimming programs can potentially improve the overall health status of Aboriginal communities, particularly Aboriginal children.
Research shows that the children appear healthier since the pools have opened, and the incidence of skin sores and ear infections has decreased. At Burringurrah, ear problems have decreased from 90% to 54% and severe skin sores have decreased from 28% to 3%. Similar results were recorded in Jigalong.
Swimming proficiency has reduced mortality rates from drowning; a key issue in these communities which are located close to rivers that flood during the wet season.


Social Benefits

Each community has embraced the No School, No Pool policy and school principals have reported a marked increase in school attendance and an overall improvement in the children’s behaviour. For example the Jigalong community school has increased school retention rates from approximately 20% to 80%.
"The school attendance has definitely improved. In fact, at Jigalong we were told that they had to increase the number of teachers because so many kids were going to school …"
[Mary Tennant, Research Assistant, Telethon Kids Institute]
Further benefits include an increase in physical activity levels in the host communities, enhanced community cohesion and reported decrease in vandalism.
"It is quite interesting that the policeman said that in the summer months the crime rate among adolescent children went to zero. In the winter months when the pool was closed, it went up … it is definitely helping with crime."
[Mary Tennant, Research Assistant, Telethon Kids Institute]
The children participate in a number of activities at the pool including swimming lessons, work experience and holiday programs. They have painted brightly coloured murals on the buildings, displaying their creative and artistic talents.
Social programs at the aquatic facility are popular, with birthday parties, pool-fishing events, barbeques and movie nights proving to be regular features on the community calendar. Swimming and lifesaving carnivals are also a social highlight.

Training & Employment Benefits

Mentoring and training is being provided for community members with a view to management responsibility and ownership passing back to the community in the longer term.
In association with the management training, the Royal Life Saving Society also runs a pool lifeguard training course and approximately 45 Aboriginal trainees have progressed to pool lifeguard standard. Part of the training is completed at the community pool, with the remainder undertaken at the nearest regional centre. The partnership covers all accommodation and travel costs incurred by the trainees.
"Swimming pool management training courses are an ideal employment pathway allowing an individual within a remote community to obtain portable work skills and qualifications that can be used in mainstream society."
[Education and Health Standing Committee, Swimming Pool Program in Remote Communities, Report No. 2 in the 37th Parliament, 2006]
The course is a modified version, designed to be more accessible for the Indigenous learner.
"We have found that a more hands-on training approach works well and as a result of the changes most Indigenous students who commence training achieve a successful outcome and meet the standards required by industry for employment."
[Greg Tate, Manager Community Relations, Royal Life Saving Society WA]
Royal Life Saving is continuing to work closely with the remote communities to develop new and innovative programs to ensure we are adequately servicing the community’s needs.

Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools Research Report

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