Lifeline for schoolkids who can’t swim

 

THE push for improved swimming education in primary schools has won support from the Federal Government, which has stepped in to help address a deadly decline in water safety skills.

The government has unveiled Sport 2030, a blueprint to "reshape the face of Australian sport and build a healthier, more physically active nation''.

The document supports changes championed by News Queensland's Save Our Schoolkids (SOS) campaign that is striving for compulsory swim and water safety lessons in Queensland primary schools.

The campaign sparked a series of successful roundtable meetings arranged by Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace.

These saw the creation of a Queensland-first collaboration between key water safety bodies, including Surf Life Saving, Royal Lifesaving and teaching group AUSTSWIM.

This partnership is formulating programs expected to be put to government at the end of the month before being rolled out in the near future.

Sisters Ryne, 9, and Kyra Spence, 6, having some fun at Miami Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast. Picture: Adam Head
Sisters Ryne, 9, and Kyra Spence, 6, having some fun at Miami Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast. Picture: Adam Head

The Sport 2030 document, unveiled by federal Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie, demands every Australian child have access to basic swimming and water safety education and knowledge.

"State and territory governments have reduced mandatory learn to swim programs in schools, and cost of living pressures mean families are not prioritising learning to swim,'' it says.

"As a result, many children will leave primary school this year without the swimming and water safety skills and knowledge they will need to be safe around water for the rest of their lives.''

The document does not discuss funding but promises "the Australian Government will work with state and territory Education Ministers to ensure that all children have access to a learn to swim program in primary school''.

Madeleine Paget, 6, from Miami is learning the skills to survive around water at Miami Aquatic Centre. Picture: Adam Head
Madeleine Paget, 6, from Miami is learning the skills to survive around water at Miami Aquatic Centre. Picture: Adam Head

Surf Life Saving Queensland's chief executive officer John Brennan said SLSQ welcomed any support for a greater focus on teaching swimming to school-age children as it provided skills for life for kids around beaches, waterways and dams.

Swimming Australia President John Bertrand AO also welcomed the commitment.

"The announcement from the Australian Government is a game changer and we are delighted they will work with states and territories to make swimming accessible to all primary school children,'' he said.

"Swimming in Australia is a way of life and a fundamental life skill, so it is vitally important that our children learn to swim for their safety, enjoyment and health.''

The SOS campaign is a finalist in the prestigious News Media Awards to be decided in September.


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