Royal Life Saving NSW has engaged to the NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon. Stephen Kamper MP on behalf of the Aquatic Industry expressing our deepest concern and disappointment regarding the recent announcement of the potential discontinuation of the Active Kids and First Lap Voucher program by the New South Wales Government. This initiative has been instrumental in promoting physical activity and sports participation among children, particularly those from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds. The discontinuation of this program will have severe consequences for the health, well-being, and social development of thousands of children across the state, and critically expose our children to elevated risk of drowning.
By discontinuing the Voucher program, the New South Wales Government is effectively denying many children from low-income families the opportunity to participate in sports and physical activities, which are essential for their overall development. The negative impact of this decision on the physical, emotional, and social well-being of these children cannot be overstated. Furthermore, the reduction in participation in sports and physical activities among children is likely to contribute to the growing issue of childhood obesity, which is already a significant concern in Australia and reduce the swimming and water safety proficiency of children leading to reduced confidence and capacity to experience diverse aquatic experiences. The Active Kids and First Lap Voucher program has played a crucial role in promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging children to remain physically active, and its discontinuation will only exacerbate this problem.
Royal Life Saving NSW is urging the NSW Government to reconsider its decision to discontinue the Active Kids and First Lap Voucher program and will keep the industry updated.
Some important statistics to note:
More than 3 million learn to swim lessons were lost in NSW during the COVID-19 closures.
40% of children leave NSW Primary School unable to swim 50 metres or float for 2 minutes.
The aquatic industry has been devastated by the pandemic with significant job losses (particularly swim teachers and pool lifeguards) and crippling financial stress.
Last year NSW experienced the highest drowning toll in more than 25 years.