South Sudanese Communities Learn Valuable Water Safety Skills at Frankston Beach

Over 50 local, South Sudanese young people made a splash at Frankston Beach last month as they and their families participated in an active beach education day run by Life Saving Victoria (LSV).

The program, developed and delivered by LSV’s Multicultural team, was one of 100 similar half-day excursions scheduled to take place this summer, providing both water safety education and a fun day out to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities around Victoria.

One of the key aims of LSV’s multicultural beach programs is to increase the level of water safety education among newly arrived communities, a group that is over-represented in the drowning statistics. Over the past decade, 19 per cent of drowning deaths in Victoria involved people who were born overseas.

Member for Frankston Paul Edbrooke visited the beach to meet and chat with participants and their families, gaining first-hand experience of the water safety programs LSV is delivering at beaches in his local electorate.

“I congratulate Life Saving Victoria and its partner organisations on delivering the Multicultural Beach Program, which is doing a wonderful job teaching vital water-safety skills to multicultural communities,” said Mr Edbrooke.

Also in attendance on the day was Andrew Jang, 17, a volunteer with the Frankston Multicultural Centre, and a former LSV Beach Education Day participant. After one year of swimming lessons, Andrew is now working as a pool lifeguard at Peninsula Aquatic and Recreation Centre (PARC), Frankston with his older sister Nyajema, 25.

Providing both employment and volunteer opportunities to CALD youth is an area of emphasis for LSV, with Multicultural Projects Manager David Holland saying that these opportunities improve both inclusion and diversity locally within the aquatics industry and surf lifesaving movement.

“Role models like Andrew and his sister Nyajema inspire others to also do great things for the wider community – pursuits that they might not have previously considered before fun days like today at the beach. Improved settlement, water safety knowledge and diversity in aquatics are the big winners,” said Mr Holland.

South Sudanese youths Chotnyang Puok, 17, and Yauda Rock, 18, also took part in the program and are now following in the siblings’ footsteps by currently training to become local pool lifeguards themselves.

11-year-old Nyalieth Deng (in orange) with fellow participants

One of the program’s participants, Nyalieth Deng, 11, has seen for herself the potential pathways that LSV’s water safety programs can take. “I do swimming lessons on Wednesdays at PARC and I always see Andrew working there,” she said.

Nyalieth gave the beach program two thumbs up, going on to say she has two favourite things from the day: “I loved going on the nipper boards in the water and playing soccer on the beach. I’ve had a good day so far.”

“The advice I’d give to my friends or family after today would be to tell them to stay with someone when they’re going into the water. I’d tell them that they shouldn’t swim alone.”

The group of 50 South Sudanese participants were just some of the over 14,000 CALD community members engaged each year in a variety of LSV programs. “They’re designed to give migrants and new arrivals an introduction to Victoria’s beaches and waterways,” said Mr Holland, “but in addition, these programs are helping to increase diversity within the lifesaving and aquatics communities and are ultimately working to reduce the drowning toll within our CALD communities.”

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