So far, this financial year, Life Saving Victoria’s multicultural department has helped nearly 13,000 Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) participants with water safety education programs, swimming lessons, pool and surf lifeguard qualifications, as well as first aid courses.
The department runs three types of water safety education programs: Meet a Lifeguard, a classroom/lecture theatre water safety incursion; a practical beach excursion program; and Resuscitate a Mate, a classroom CPR information session.
“Last month, a number of LSV’s CALD Pool Lifeguard graduates began work at City of Greater Dandenong (CGD) aquatic centres, where almost 20 graduates have been employed over the past two summers,” says David Holland, LSV’s Multicultural Projects Manager. “It’s rewarding to see the end-result of the hard work put in by both LSV and the YMCA.”
YMCA Open Doors and LSV funded the CALD Aquatics Pathway Program to train newly arrived community members as pool lifeguards, as a way to learn water safety and how to save a life, while also being a way into satisfying employment options.
One graduate of the first program, Rabia (Emma) Qumbri, is a twenty-year old Afghan woman who came to Australia with her family in 2010. Her two sisters began working as surf lifesavers and she followed in their footsteps, even though work in the aquatics and recreation industry aren’t easily accessible for newly-arrived Australians.
“I joined the program, completed the training and now work at Dandenong Oasis and have also done shifts at Noble Park (Aquatic Centre) and Casey ARC,” says Emma, who is Muslim and wears a hijab.
With the Dandenong community being one of the most diverse in Australia, she has become someone that Muslim women and others feel comfortable to approach.
“It’s really good. Other women and Muslims sometimes feel more comfortable talking to me than they would someone else and they often ask me questions. I am able to help and that is very satisfying,” says Emma, adding that her family and community were very proud and that the position was one where she felt equal and was treated that way by everyone.
On the surf lifesaving side, Bonbeach LSC’s second intake in December saw eleven CALD Lifesavers graduate with vital lifesaving skills, as well as future employment prospects.
“We like our lifesaving clubs to reflect the diversity of Victoria and to be places where everyone, from whatever background, can build friendships while learning skills,” says David. “We’re incredibly proud of each of our CALD graduates and our hope is that we’re also helping their families and friends to learn how to stay safe, as our graduates share their newfound knowledge and skills with their communities.”
From now until the end of the financial year, a further 2,000 participants are booked in for LSV CALD-focused programs.
Do you need more information? Learn more about our multicultural educational programs and become a part of the LSV community.
Listen to more about the extraordinary community of CALD lifesavers on the ABC here.