Welcome to the first edition of the Life Saving Victoria (LSV) ‘Education from Anywhere’ newsletter for the 2019 school year.
I trust you have enjoyed the summer holiday break. However, unfortunately it has been a tragic summer period to date in Victoria for many families, with 23 reported fatal drowning incidents from 1 December 2018 to 4 February 2019. This is 10 more than the 5-year average from 1 December 2013 to 4 February 2018. Victoria has so many fantastic options for swimming and aquatic recreating. To ensure everyone comes home safely from a day at the beach, river or by the pool, we strongly urge teachers, parents and carers to actively supervise children around water.
LSV has been working closely with the Department of Education and Training (DET) on the rollout of the Public Water Safety initiative. This initiative was funded through the 2018/19 State Budget. It complements the DET Swimming in Schools funding and will see the development of an online toolkit of resources and the delivery of professional development and training in aquatic qualifications for teachers, parents, VCE/VET students and pre-service teachers.
It was pleasing to note in the release of the Sport Australia 2030 Plan, that the Australian Government will work with state and territory Education Ministers to ensure that all children have access to a learn to swim program in primary school. Further to this report, we also welcomed the announcement of the Federal Labor Party Swim Smart Policy that would provide additional funding for water safety education for all Australian school children.
The achievement of National Swimming and Water Safety Framework benchmarks (the Victorian Water Safety Certificate in Victoria), is important and Royal Life Saving studies estimate that 20% to 60% of children leave primary school not achieving the basic Year Four benchmark; being able to swim 50m, float for several minutes and awareness of vital water safety knowledge. The challenge to address this gap is complex and requires a multifaceted response with collaboration across Local, State and Federal Governments, the swimming and water safety sector, community groups and parents. We look forward to your input.
On behalf of LSV, I wish you all the very best for the school year ahead.
Dr Nigel Taylor
CEO, Life Saving Victoria