Royal Life Saving Society - Australia welcomes the new National Sport Plan, which recognises the importance of swimming and water safety skills for all Australians.
The National Sport Plan ‘Sport 2030’, launched by Minister for Sport, Senator The Hon Bridget McKenzie acknowledges that swimming is a skill for life.
The Australian Government has announced that they will work with state and territory Education Ministers to ensure that all children have access to a learn to swim program in primary school, and have the skills to swim at least 50m before leaving primary school.
Royal Life Saving is strongly committed to this objective and to supporting parents, communities, the Federal Government, along with State and Territory Governments.
“Swimming is an essential part of everyday life for many Australians. We swim for fun, for fitness, for good health or just to relax with friends. Sadly, Royal Life Saving research shows declining rates of children learning to swim, particularly in disadvantaged communities, migrants, Indigenous Australians, and among those who live in the regions where access to pools and teachers can be a major barrier,” said Justin Scarr, CEO, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.
In 2017, Royal Life Saving convened the National Swimming and Water Safety Symposium, bringing together stakeholders from all State and Territory Governments, major swimming and water safety bodies, academics and swimming school operators, to develop a national approach to increasing swimming and water safety education for all Australian children.
The National Swimming and Water Safety Symposium produced a six point action plan:
Strengthen school and vacation based programs
Revise the national swimming and water safety framework
Set and research benchmarks
Devise and implement strategies to increase access for at-risk communities
Improve availability and accessibility to aquatic facilities
Increasing swimming and lifesaving skills in secondary school students
A second Symposium was held in April 2018 which recognised the progress in each of the action points and reconfirmed this commitment to collaboration.
Justin Scarr reinforces that collaboration is key.
“No single sector, no single organisation can solve this complex issue. Stakeholders who have participated in these Symposiums committed to a plan, and are passionate about protecting the long standing school and vacation based programs.”
The National Sport Plan also proposes an investment into sporting infrastructure to ensure all Australians, regardless of age, gender and ability should be able to access infrastructure, play and participate. The development will be led by the rebranded Sports Australia.
Royal Life Saving continues to work with Government(s) and industry stakeholders on swimming, water safety, and drowning prevention initiatives. Key areas of focus include revising the national swimming and water safety framework and working with communities to secure funds for swimming pool redevelopments and upgrades, extending our work to bring swim and survive to communities who would otherwise miss out, especially newly arrived Australians, indigenous Australians and those who simply need a helpful start.
Here are some communities who have benefited from this work so far: