Royal Life Saving helps 1500 students learn to swim in remote Kimberley and Pilbara

The Kimberley Echo
Picture: Servarniah Mosquito, 9, and Lolana Pinday, 9, at Warmun’s pool.
Camera IconPicture: Servarniah Mosquito, 9, and Lolana Pinday, 9, at Warmun’s pool. Credit: Supplied: Royal Life Saving Society WA/Supplied: Royal Life Saving Society WA

More than 1500 students across 17 remote communities in the Kimberley and Pilbara have taken part in in-term swimming lessons over the past three years, according to new data from Royal Life Saving WA.

The lessons were made possible due to a service agreement between RLSWA and the Department of Education to give children in regional communities access to swimming and water safety programs by addressing the lack of instructors and suitable locations for lessons, timetabling issues and cultural barriers to participation.

East Kimberley communities involved included Warmun, Balgo and Kalumburu, with 72 students from the region participating in swimming lessons for the first time.

Jigalong, Yandeyarra, Bidyadanga, Burringurrah and 10 schools from the Fitzroy Valley also participated.

Royal Life Saving WA’s Kimberley development officer Glenn Taylor said the programs were vital to addressing the North West’s swimming lesson participation rate, which was 5.8 percent lower than the rest of the State.

“Given that people in regional areas are 2.3 times more likely to drowning than those in the metro area, and that the drowning rate amongst Aboriginal Australians is twice that of non-Aboriginal Australians, the work being done through our partnership with the Department of Education is vital in addressing these statistics,” he said.

Mr Taylor said instructors had created flexible lessons, tailored to the needs of each local community, including river-based lessons.

“Programs are also now held year-round in communities where pools are open, rather than just in Term One and Four as was previously the case,” he said.

Several pools will re-open for the wet season next month.

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