Children will have the chance to be safer swimmers, with access to swimming and water safety lessons in primary school under a Shorten Labor Government.
Labor’s Swim Smart program will deliver more swimming and water safety lessons for students during the school term.
From the 2020 school year, a Labor Government will fund additional swimming lessons for schools that need it, catch-up lessons for kids needing extra support, and more support for the cost of transport and pool entry fees.
Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, said access to school-based swimming lessons under the current system in NSW was inconsistent, with access depending on location, type of school and whether parents can afford private lessons.
“This summer has reminded us yet again that knowing to swim is a life-saving skills for kids in pools, rivers, waterholes and dams,” Ms Templeman said.
“Access to swimming lessons should not depend on a family’s bank balance. It’s unfair and unsafe, and we don’t want children to miss out.
“Currently, about one in five kids leave primary school unable to swim 50 metres.
“Weekly lessons at a local pool can cost close to $200 (up front) for an 11 week term. Some families just can’t afford to give their children this vital, life-saving skill.
“Swimming lessons aren’t just something parents should have to organise on weekends or during the holidays. It’s a critical part of growing up safe in Australia, so it should be part of the school term.”
“In the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, we have many places to enjoy the water including our beautiful natural waterholes, lakes, river and lagoons, and council run pools.
“We need to make sure our children are strong swimmers in different situations and are safe in the water,” she said.
Nearly 250 people drowned in 2017/18 in Australian waterways. One in five drownings were people under the age of 25. This summer has seen 65 drownings in waterways across Australia.
The new national program will be based on the Royal Life Saving Australia’s Year Four National Water Safety Standards. This includes the goal that children can swim 50 metres, tread water and know how to respond if they fall into water unexpectedly.
Labor will work with states and territories, Catholic and Independent schools to deliver the program to schools who require extra support. We will also work with local government, swim schools and lifesaving clubs to help ensure students have access. The program will also provide additional support to children with disability, to ensure they can participate in water safety and learn to swim programs just like their class mates. The policy has been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office to have a budget impact of $46 million over the forward estimates, and will be in addition to existing state and territory programs. Labor can fund extra swimming lessons for kids because we’ve made tough budget decisions to make multinationals pay their fair share of tax, close tax loopholes used by the top end of town, and we won’t give a tax cut to the big banks.