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6 Apr 2022

Royal Life Saving NSW launches new multicultural Learn to Swim campaign to reduce drownings

Drowning Prevention
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Royal Life Saving NSW, with support from the NSW Government’s Office of Sport, has today launched a new Learn to Swim campaign for multicultural communities, to increase swimming lesson participation across NSW.

The new Everyone can learn how to swim campaign focuses on six people from diverse backgrounds and personal stories of how they overcame barriers to enjoy the many health and social benefits swimming can deliver.

According to Royal Life Saving Australia, in the 10 years between 2009 and 2019, there were 572 drowning deaths among people born overseas, accounting for 29% of total drowning deaths in Australia. 98% of the drowning deaths were adults over the age of 18, who drowned because of a lack of swimming and survival skills.

Key findings include:

• 572 drowning deaths among people born overseas, equal to 29% of total drowning deaths in Australia (284 in NSW)

• Adults account for 98% of drowning deaths in multicultural communities

• 80% of all the drowning deaths are male

• 69 of all drownings occurred when lack of swimming and survival skills were a key factor

Craig Roberts, General Manager, Drowning Prevention and Education with Royal Life Saving NSW, said the campaign promotes positive engagement in swimming and water safety lessons.

“In sharing stories about swimming experiences, we hope that families from multicultural backgrounds feel seen, represented, and have an increased awareness of the value of swimming lessons and the numerous benefits that arise from it,” he said.

“Families and community members from multicultural backgrounds have told us there are certain barriers regarding swimming lessons, including a lack of knowledge on lesson procedures, costs, and cultural and religious considerations. We want to develop the community bond between Aquatic facilities and our diverse communities, encouraging families to feel comfortable, ask questions and approach their local swimming pool for lessons.”

Minister for Tourism and Sport, Stuart Ayres, has urged multicultural communities to make water safety a priority.

“Swimming is a key part of the Australian lifestyle and is one of the best activities you can do for your mind and body,” Mr Ayres said.

“But too many people from multicultural backgrounds continue to lose their lives to drowning. I urge multicultural families to make learning to swim and being safe in the water a priority.”

The campaign provides resources for local communities to understand and navigate the barriers to swimming. This support will assist the Aquatic industry to provide consistent and easy-to-understand information to their diverse local community. Translated guides are available in key language groups including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi & Nepali.

Royal Life Saving Community Educator, Noora Jasim, shared her inspiring story.

“Being on the campaign was meaningful for me. I had the opportunity to increase people's awareness around water safety. I was able to encourage people from a multicultural background to approach swimming lessons and spend their time in the activities that support their well-being,” Ms Jasim said.

The NSW Government's First Lap program provides an annual $100 voucher to every child aged three to six. The Active Kids program’s $100 voucher can also be used at swim schools that are registered Active Kids providers.

Whitlam Leisure Centre Liverpool Aquatic Services Manager, Tammy Weatherby, said she looks forward to sharing the important messages behind the campaign.

“Learning to swim is a life skill for all communities and cultures. Through training and education, we can all do our part in saving lives and creating employment opportunities within our local community,” said Ms Weatherby.

Visit our new multicultural community hub for more information and resources.

Total Drownings by Residential Suburb 2011/12 to2020/21 (8 of top 12 in Western Sydney)

Source: Royal Life Saving Western Sydney Drowning Report.

Media Contact:

Craig Roberts

General Manager, Drowning Prevention and Education

Royal Life Saving NSW


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