Life Saving Victoria’s programs to improve water safety outcomes among Victoria’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities are having a powerful and measurable impact, according to a recent study by La Trobe University’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact.
LSV’s diversity and inclusion programs, like its beach days for kids from English language schools, return an incredible $14.85 in social value for every $1 invested in the programs.
The study, supported by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), found that programs delivered by LSV to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, are unique and effective in addressing both CALD water safety education and aquatic skill development, as well as having wider social and settlement benefits.
LSV general manager diversity and inclusion David Holland said as well as saving lives, LSV’s diversity and inclusion programs deliver many other benefits to CALD communities and the wider Victorian community.
“Victorians from CALD communities are more than twice as likely to drown than other Victorians,” Mr Holland said.
“With 36 per cent of drownings during the past decade involving people who were born overseas, LSV identified the need a long time ago for a dedicated team to engage with CALD communities.
“We have created an effective and popular activity pathway that involves a vast network of stakeholders from more than 450 community groups, schools and agencies. These allow us to develop an ever-growing group of influential CALD aquatic role models.
“This study highlights and quantifies what we have known for a long time, that our programs, in addition to saving lives and educating people about water safety, deliver many additional outcomes that have significant social and economic benefits for the wider community.
“These include improved physical and mental health, training and employment opportunities, greater social connections for participants, a platform for applied English language proficiency, greater social cohesion and reduced racism, and more diversity within the aquatic and recreation industry and emergency services,” he said.
Someone who has benefitted from LSV’s CALD programs is Karen refugee Nai Pho, who learned to swim through an LSV program almost four years ago, after he relocated to Victoria from Myanmar.
Nai Pho could not swim when he first moved to Australia and was unable to find employment because of language barriers.
In 2021, he was employed as a pool lifeguard for the City of Melbourne, thanks to assistance from LSV and is also now an instructor of LSV’s beach programs statewide, ensuring the next generation has access to the same opportunities he did.
“Thanks to LSV, I obtained my first aid and pool lifeguard qualifications and also gained further work as a multicultural staff member with LSV,” Nai Pho said.
“I am grateful to LSV for teaching me to swim, which has helped me to get a job as a lifeguard to help others in CALD communities.
“With my new skills, I hope to someday work in community welfare, coaching and mentoring to other refugees, so they too can learn valuable water safety and lifesaving skills.”
Nai is one of five instructors aged between 18 – 24, from Afghanistan, Somalia and Myanmar who are now passing on their valuable skills learned through LSV’s programs to young people from diverse backgrounds, at LSV’s beach programs.
“I love having the chance to teach young people about water safety, and hopefully give them the confidence to enjoy the water, make new connections and become involved in sport,” Nai Pho said.
“It’s so important for kids to see people from their own community having a go, it helps them to see that they too can become involved in swimming and then take their own knowledge and share it with even more people who might be at risk.”
The La Trobe University and VicHealth study is the first of its kind in LSV’s diversity and inclusion department’s 14-year history.
Mr Holland said LSV’s CALD programs will continue to be crucial as migration to Victoria from overseas increases.
“Greater CALD community participation in aquatic activities is essential,” he said.
“As migration increases, so does the need for improving water safety knowledge and addressing the numerous social issues through this program.”
For more information on LSV’s diversity and inclusion programs visit www.lsv.com.au