Welcome to the first edition of the Life Saving Victoria (LSV) ‘Education from Anywhere’ newsletter for the 2017 school year.
With a reported 20 persons drowning in NSW over the Christmas period, it has been a tragic start to the year for many families and communities. There have also been 23 reported drowning deaths in Victoria from 1 July 2016 to 10 January 2017; this is 4 more than the 5 year average for the same time period. These incidents are a timely reminder of the importance of water safety; always swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags and parents need to actively supervise their children around water at all times. Additionally, stay up to date with community warnings and incident notifications about floods, fires, beach closures, shark sightings and more, by downloading the new VicEmergency App. It is available from the App Store and Google Play.
The 2015/16 Victorian Drowning Report was officially launched by the Emergency Services and Education Minister James Merlino during Water Safety Week at the end of the 2016 school year. The Report revealed 43 people lost their lives to drowning on Victorian waterways in 2015/16. During the launch, Minister Merlino also confirmed that Victorian children will have to be able to swim 50 metres by the end of primary school as part of changes to the Victorian Curriculum from 2017.
LSV welcomes the inclusion of swimming and water safety in the Victorian Curriculum. The minimum competencies described in the Victorian Water Safety Certificate are designed to ensure children have a basic level of swimming and water safety skill and knowledge prior to leaving primary school. The Certificate describes specific competencies that focus on water safety knowledge, rescue skills, a survival sequence and the ability to swim a continuous distance of 50 meters. The acquisition of the associated life skills is a key to providing more resilient students. To assist as you begin the school year, LSV have developed a series of Frequently Asked Questions that may be useful as you plan your school’s swimming and water safety program.
Finally, with the horror spate of drownings across the country so far this summer, the move by the Victorian Government is a positive one and ensures the work completed to date by LSV, the aquatics industry and education sector to address the lack of children’s swimming competency, is well positioned. We at LSV commit to working closely with schools, the aquatics industry and government, to seek opportunities to support schools to meet their reporting requirements and ultimately lower the Victorian drowning toll.
On behalf of LSV, I wish you all the very best for the school year ahead.
CEO, Life Saving Victoria