Australian Water Safety Strategy
The Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030 identifies swimming and water safety skills as a key priority area. Swimming and water safety skills are widely recognised as a major key to preventing drowning, with a lack of swimming skills and water safety knowledge considered to be a major risk factor for drowning.
The significant rates of drowning in open water environments reinforce the importance of learning a full range of swimming, water safety and survival skills, and a knowledge of hazards and risks in different locations and situations.
The development of swimming and water safety skills in children continues to be a concern, Royal Life Saving research shows that around 40% of children leave primary school without being able to swim 50m freestyle/ backstroke, 25m of survival stroke and treading water for two minutes. Further research found that 25% of children enrolled in lessons were aged between two and four years old, indicating that parents are investing in swimming lessons from a young age.
This research found that children are dropping out of lessons at around 8 years old, well before many children have developed a comprehensive set of swimming and water skills. Access to swimming and water safety education is not evenly spread across all populations. Research shows inequalities in rural and remote communities, those from lower socioeconomic areas, multicultural communities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who are all less likely to be attending swimming and water safety education programs.
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